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What Are Industry Codes and How Do I Find Them?

What is an industry code?

An industry code is a number that represents an industry or type of business. These codes were developed by the U.S. government to make it easier to group businesses into categories called "industries," and to collect information about those industries.

Until 1997, the government used the Standard Industrial Classification system (often called "SIC"). SIC codes are four-digit numbers. The government now uses a system called North American Industrial Classification System ("NAICS"). NAICS codes are five- or six-digit numbers.

For example, the SIC code for the ice cream manufacturing industry is "2024." The NAICS code for the same industry is "311520."

Why do I need to know the SIC and NAICS codes for my industry?

Many business information sources are arranged by SIC or NAICS codes, so it's helpful to know your code(s) to find the information you need.

How can I find the codes for my industry?

To find the right codes, check the two books listed below. Look in the alphabetical indexes under all the words that could describe the business in which you're interested, or browse the pages within a major industry group. You may need more than one code to describe all the aspects of the business.

Standard Industrial Classification Manual 1987
LOCATION: Bailey/Howe Library, Reference Stacks (1st Floor), HF1042.A55
(A second copy of the manual is located downstairs in the Government Information Department.)

North American Industry Classification System
LOCATION: Bailey/Howe Library, Reference Stacks (1st Floor), HF1042.N67
Also available on the Web at http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html
In the online version, it's best to browse for codes rather than using the keyword search box.

© Trina Magi, University of Vermont Libraries, 2002
Page last updated April 14, 2015

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