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Choosing the Right SOC Code for UK Work Visa

SOC codes allow the Home Office to determine the kind of work a migrant worker will be doing in the UK. Choosing the right SOC code is essential to avoid a delay or refusal of a visa application.

For more information about SOC codes and how we can help you determine the correct code for a job role, reach out to us on  0333 305 9375 or contact us online today.


What are SOC Codes?

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, also called occupation codes, are four-digit numbers used to classify different job types.

The codes are taken from a system designed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), and they cover all types of paid jobs in the UK economy. The occupation codes indicate the applicable going rate or salary for each role and also provides the related job titles associated with each role.

An occupation code helps the Home Office to determine if a migrant worker’s role meets certain visa requirements, such as the skills level and going rate threshold, to qualify for a UK work visa.

For foreign nationals to qualify for a UK work visa, their role must be at a specific skill level, and the job must be eligible for sponsorship as featured on the list of SOC codes.

As such, sponsoring organisations must ensure that when hiring migrant workers, they have the right skills, qualifications, and experience for the offered job and that the role pays the relevant salary.

How the Sponsorship Process Work

All migrant workers must be assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) by their sponsors before applying for a visa. The CoS usually contains the worker’s personal details, the job details, and the occupation code for the role.

Before assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship, the sponsor must select the correct SOC code for the job role from the list of eligible occupations. The applicant must then provide the corresponding occupation code during the visa application.

How to Choose the Appropriate Occupation Code

When choosing SOC codes, employers will need to go through the list of eligible occupations and find the code that closely matches the role they’re hiring for.

Employers can use the occupation coding tool on the ONS website to search by job title. The ONS tool will identify possible occupation codes for the corresponding job title.

The sponsor will need to read through the job descriptions for each result to determine the correct SOC code for the role. As such, when considering the right code, it’s best to focus on the duties and responsibilities or requirements of the role rather than the title.

Changes in SOC Codes

It’s important to note that the SOC code list is subject to change by the UK government. This change can affect code classifications, job types, job titles, and going rates and can occur anytime.

As such, sponsors should always check the latest version of the eligible occupation codes each time they assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to avoid using an invalid code.

If you have any questions about Choosing the Right SOC Code, our team is happy to assist.

The SOC Codes

Here is a list of some common SOC codes with their corresponding job types and job titles. A detailed list of SOC codes can be found on the UK government website.

Occupation CodeJob TypeRelated Job Titles
1115Chief executives and senior officialsChief executive, Chief medical officer, Civil servant (grade 5 and above), Vice president
1121Production managers and directors in manufacturingEngineering manager, Managing director (engineering), Operations manager (manufacturing), Production manager
1122Production managers and directors in constructionBuilding Services manager, Construction manager, Director (building construction), Owner (electrical contracting)
1132Marketing and sales directorsMarketing director, Sales director
1134Advertising and public relations directorsAccount director (advertising), Head of public relations
1136Information technology and telecommunications directorsIT Director, Technical director (computer services), Telecommunications director
1139Functional managers and directors not elsewhere classifiedManager (charitable organisation), Research director
1172Senior police officersChief superintendent (police service), Detective inspector, Police inspector
1173Senior officers in fire, ambulance, prison and related servicesFire service officer (government), Prison governor, Station officer (ambulance service)
1181Health services and public health managers and directorsDirector of nursing, Health Service manager, Information manager (health authority: hospital service)
1184Social services managers and directorsCare manager (local government: social services), Service manager (welfare services)
1190Managers and directors in retail and wholesaleManaging director (retail trade), Retail manager, Shop manager (charitable organisation), Wholesale manager
1221Hotel and accommodation managers and proprietorsCaravan park owner, Hotel manager, Landlady (boarding, guest, lodging house)
1223Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietorsCafé owner, Fish & chip shopkeeper, Operations manager (catering), Restaurant manager, Shop manager (take-away food shop)
1251Property, housing and estate managersEstate manager, Facilities manager, Landlord (property management), Property manager
1253Hairdressing and beauty salon managers and proprietorsHairdressing salon owner, Health and fitness manager, Manager (beauty salon)
1255Waste disposal and environmental services managersEnvironmental manager (refuse disposal), Manager (local government: cleansing dept.), Recycling plant manager, Scrap metal dealer
1259Managers and proprietors in other services not elsewhere classifiedBetting shop manager, Graphic design classified manager, Library manager, Plant hire manager, Production manager (entertainment)
2119Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified For Skilled Worker purposes, occupation code 2119 includes researchers in research organisations other than universities.Operational research scientist, Research associate (medical), Research fellow, Researcher, Scientific officer, Scientist, Sports scientist, University researcher
2121Civil engineersBuilding engineer, Civil engineer (professional), Highways engineer, Petroleum engineer, Public health engineer, Site engineer, Structural engineer
2122Mechanical engineersAeronautical engineer (professional), Aerospace engineer, Automotive engineer (professional), Marine engineer (professional), Mechanical engineer (professional)
2123IT specialist managersData centre manager, IT manager, IT support manager, Network operations manager (computer services), Service delivery manager
2134IT project and programme managersImplementation manager (computing), IT project manager, Programme manager (computing), Project leader (software design)
2135IT business analysts, architects and systems designersBusiness analyst (computing), Data communications analyst, Systems analyst, Systems consultant, Technical analyst (computing), Technical architect
2136Programmers and software development professionalsAnalyst-programmer, Database developer, Games programmer, Programmer, Software engineer
2139Information technology and telecommunications professionals not elsewhere classifiedIT consultant, Quality analyst (computing), Software tester, Systems tester (computing), Telecommunications planner
2142Environment professionalsEnergy manager, Environmental consultant, Environmental engineer, Environmental protection officer, Environmental scientist, Landfill engineer
2211Medical practitionersAnaesthetist, Consultant (Hospital Service), Doctor, General practitioner, Medical practitioner, Paediatrician, Psychiatrist, Radiologist, Surgeon
2213PharmacistsChemist (pharmaceutical), Dispensary manager, Pharmaceutical chemist, Pharmacist, Pharmacy manager
2222Occupational therapistsOccupational therapist
2229Therapy professionals not elsewhere classifiedArt therapist, Chiropractor, Cognitive behavioural therapist, Dance movement therapist, Family therapist, Nutritionist, Osteopath, Psychotherapist
2311Higher education teaching professionalsFellow (university), Lecturer (higher education, university), Professor (higher education, university), Tutor (higher education, university), University lecturer
2312Further education teaching professionalsFE College lecturer, Lecturer (further education), Teacher (further education), Tutor (further education)
2314Secondary education teaching professionalsDeputy head teacher (secondary school), Secondary school teacher, Sixth form teacher, Teacher (secondary school)
2315Primary and nursery education teaching professionalsDeputy head teacher (primary school), Infant teacher, Nursery school teacher, Primary school teacher
2316Special needs education teaching professionalsDeputy head teacher (special school), Learning support teacher, Special needs coordinator, Special needs teacher
2319Teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classifiedAdult education tutor, Education consultant, Music teacher, Nursery manager (day nursery), Owner (nursery: children’s), Private tutor, TEFL
2412Barristers and judgesAdvocate, Barrister, Chairman (appeals tribunal, inquiry), Coroner, Crown prosecutor, District judge
2413SolicitorsManaging clerk (qualified solicitor), Solicitor, Solicitor-partner, Solicitor to the council
2419Legal professionals not elsewhere classifiedAttorney, Justice’s clerk, Lawyer, Legal adviser, Legal consultant, Legal counsel, Solicitor’s clerk (articled)
2423Management consultants and business analystsBusiness adviser, Business consultant, Business continuity manager, Financial risk analyst, Management consultant
2424Business and financial project management professionalsChief knowledge officer, Contracts manager (security services), Project manager, Research support officer
2426Business and related research professionalsCrime analyst (police force), Fellow (research), Games researcher (broadcasting), Inventor
2429Business, research and administrative professionals not elsewhere classifiedCivil servant (grade 6, 7), Company secretary (qualified), Policy adviser (government), Registrar (government)
2431ArchitectsArchitect, Architectural consultant, Chartered architect, Landscape architect
2432Town planning officersPlanning officer (local government: building and contracting), Town planner, Town planning consultant
2433Quantity surveyorsQuantity surveyor, Surveyor (quantity surveying)
2434Chartered surveyorsBuilding surveyor, Chartered surveyor, Hydrographic surveyor, Land surveyor
2436Construction project managers and related professionalsContract manager (building construction), Project manager (building construction), Transport planner
2443Probation officersInspector (National Probation Service), Probation officer, Youth justice officer
2449Welfare professionals not elsewhere classifiedChildren’s guardian, Rehabilitation officer, Social services officer, Youth worker (professional)
2463Environmental health professionalsAir pollution inspector, Environmental health officer, Food inspector, Public health inspector, Technical officer (environmental health)
2472Public relations professionalsAccount manager (public relations), Information officer (public relations), PR consultant, Press officer, Public relations officer
2473Advertising accounts managers and creative directorsAccount manager (advertising), Advertising Manager, Campaign Manager, Creative Director, Projects Manager (advertising)
3113Engineering techniciansAircraft technician, Commissioning engineer, Engineering technician, Manufacturing engineer, Mechanical technician
3114Building and civil engineering techniciansBuilding services consultant, Civil engineering technician, Survey technician, Technical assistant (civil engineering)
3119Science, engineering and production technicians not elsewhere classifiedSchool technician, Technical assistant, Technician, Textile consultant, Workshop technician
3131IT operations techniciansComputer games tester, Database administrator, IT technician, Network administrator, Systems administrator
3132IT user support techniciansCustomer support analyst, Help desk operator, IT support technician, Systems support officer
3213ParamedicsAmbulance paramedic, Emergency care practitioner, Paramedic, Paramedic-ECP
3239Welfare and housing associate professionals not elsewhere classifiedDay centre officer, Health coordinator, Key worker (welfare services), Outreach worker (welfare services), Probation services officer, Project worker (welfare services)
3312Police officers (sergeant and below)Detective (police service), Police constable, Police officer, Sergeant, Transport police officer
3313Fire service officers (watch manager and below)Fire engineer, Fire safety officer, Firefighter, Watch manager (fire service)
3319Protective service associate professionals not elsewhere classifiedCustoms officer, Immigration officer, Operations manager (security services), Scenes of crime officer, Security manager
3533Insurance underwritersAccount handler (insurance), Commercial underwriter, Insurance inspector, Mortgage underwriter, Underwriter
3534Finance and investment analysts and advisersFinancial adviser, Financial analyst, Financial consultant, Mortgage adviser, Pensions consultant
3535Taxation expertsTax adviser, Tax consultant, Tax inspector, Taxation specialist
3537Financial and accounting techniciansAccounting technician, Business associate (banking), Financial controller, Insolvency administrator, Managing clerk (accountancy)
3538Financial accounts managersAccounts manager, Audit manager, Credit manager, Fund manager, Relationship manager (bank)
3539Business and related associate professionals not elsewhere classifiedBusiness systems analyst, Data analyst, Marine consultant, Planning assistant, Project administrator, Project coordinator
3541Buyers and procurement officersBuyer, Procurement officer, Purchasing consultant
3542Business sales executivesCorporate account executive, Sales agent, Sales consultant, Sales executive, Technical representative
3543Marketing associate professionalsBusiness development executive, Fundraiser, Market research analyst, Marketing consultant, Marketing executive
3545Sales accounts and business development managersAccount manager (sales), Area sales manager, Business development manager, Product development manager, Sales manager
3546Conference and exhibition managers and organisersConference coordinator, Event organiser, Events manager, Exhibition organiser, Hospitality manager
3550Conservation and environmental associate professionalsConservation worker, Countryside ranger, National park warden, Park ranger
3561Public services associate professionalsHigher executive officer (government), Principle revenue officer (local government), Senior executive officer (government)
3562Human resources and industrial relations officersEmployment adviser, Human resources officer, Personnel officer, Recruitment consultant
3567Health and safety officersFire protection engineer (professional), Health and safety officer, Occupational hygienist, Safety consultant, Safety officer
4112National government administrative occupationsAdministrative assistant (courts of justice), Administrative officer (government), Civil servant (EO), Clerk (government), Revenue officer (government)
4114Officers of nongovernmental organisationsAdministrator (charitable organisation), Organiser (trade union), Secretary (research association), Trade union official
4151Sales administratorsMarketing administrator, Sales administrator, Sales clerk, Sales coordinator
5119Agricultural and fishing trades not elsewhere classifiedArboricultural consultant, Bee farmer, Gamekeeper, Share fisherman, Trawler skipper, Tree surgeon
5242Telecommunications engineersCable jointer, Customer service engineer (telecommunications), Installation engineer (telecommunications), Network officer (telecommunications), Telecommunications engineer, Telephone engineer
5244TV, video and audio engineersInstallation engineer (radio, television and video), Satellite engineer, Service engineer (radio, television and video), Technician (radio, television and video), Television engineer
5245IT engineersComputer repairer, Computer service engineer, Hardware engineer (computer), Maintenance engineer (computer servicing)
5319Construction and building trades not elsewhere classifiedAcoustician, Builder, Building contractor, Fencer, Maintenance manager (buildings and other structures), Property developer (building construction)
5419Textiles, garments and related trades not elsewhere classifiedClothing manufacturer, Embroiderer, Hand sewer, Sail maker, Upholstery cutter
5434ChefsChef, Chef-manager, Head chef, Pastry chef
5436Catering and bar managersBar manager, Catering manager, Floor manager (restaurant), Kitchen manager, Steward (club)
5449Other skilled trades not elsewhere classifiedDiamond mounter, Engraver, Goldsmith, Paint sprayer, Piano tuner, Sign maker, Silversmith, Wig maker
6121Nursery nurses and assistantsCrèche assistant, Crèche worker, Nursery assistant, Nursery nurse
6125Teaching assistantsClassroom assistant, School assistant, Teaching assistant
6126Educational support assistantsEducation support assistant, Learning support assistant, Non-teaching assistant (schools), Special needs assistant (educational establishments), Support assistant (educational establishments)
6146Senior care workersSenior care assistant, Senior carer, Senior support worker (Local government: welfare services), Team leader (nursing home)
7130Sales supervisorsSales supervisor (retail trade: delivery round), Section manager (retail trade), Shop supervisor (retail trade), Supervisor (retail, wholesale trade), Team leader (retail trade)
7220Customer service managers and supervisorsAfter sales manager, Call centre supervisor, Customer service manager, Customer service supervisor, Team leader (customer care)
8232Marine and waterways transport operativesEngine room attendant (shipping), Engineer, nos (boat, barge), Ferryman, Merchant seaman, Seaman (shipping)
9119Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classifiedVent chick sexer, Deckhand on large fishing vessel (9 metres and above).
For both job titles, the job must require 3 or more years’ full-time experience.
This experience must not have been gained through illegal working.Other jobs in this occupation are not eligible.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on Choosing the Right SOC Code.

What Happens if you Don’t Choose the Correct SOC Code?


If the wrong occupation code is selected and it is found to be a result of a genuine error, it may be possible to rectify it. However, there will be consequences if a wrong code is chosen for the following reasons:

  • The most appropriate occupation code for the job is not on the list of eligible occupations for the work visa route.
  • The going rate for the most relevant occupation code is higher than the salary being proposed for the employee.
  • The employee is claiming points for a job in a shortage occupation, but the appropriate occupation code is not on the shortage occupation list.
  • The employee is claiming points for a PhD qualification, but the most appropriate code is not eligible for PhD points.

When assessing if the wrong code was used, the Home Office’s action will depend on the following factors:

  • Whether the employer has a genuine vacancy for the job described
  • Whether the applicant or employee has the appropriate skills, qualifications, and experience for the role on the CoS.
  • The sponsor’s history of compliance with UK immigration rules.

Consequences For an Applicant

Choosing the wrong occupation code can delay the employee’s visa processing. The Home Office may also refuse the application for failure to meet the visa requirement.

As such, the applicant may need to make a new application with the correct occupation code and will have to pay all the associated visa application fees again.

Consequences For a Sponsor

Using the wrong SOC code can also lead to severe consequences for the employer. The Home Office can take compliance action against the organisation by suspending, revoking, or downgrading its sponsor licence.

As such, affected employees will not be able to sponsor new workers, and their names may be removed from the public entry of the register of sponsors. Depending on the severity of the situation, permissions for already existing sponsored workers might be cancelled.

Therefore, sponsors should take care not to provide the wrong information to the Home office.

If you have any questions about Choosing the Right SOC Code, our team is happy to assist.

How Does the Home Office Investigate SOC Codes?

When assessing an application, the Home Office caseworker will check the SOC code, job title, job description, and going rate against the role and salary offered to the migrant worker to ensure that the correct code has been selected.

The caseworker will investigate if the appropriate CoS for the job was assigned. They can access the Sponsor Management System (SMS) to check if the information on the application form is the same as the assigned CoS.

They can request and review the worker’s employment contract and job duties and interview the employee to verify the actual responsibilities of the job. They will also investigate if the worker has the appropriate skills for the role.

If they believe that the code chosen is not the most appropriate for the role, they can request an explanation as to why it was selected when another code might be more suitable before making a decision.

How can IAS Help

Choosing the right SOC code can be challenging, as it is not always obvious which code matches the right job. Here is where we come in.

At IAS, our expert and professional legal advisers are well-versed in UK immigration laws and requirements.

We can help you determine the right occupation code for a job and ensure that you meet the Home Office requirement whether you’re applying or recruiting under a  sponsored worker route.

For more information on how we can help you, reach out to us on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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