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Before You Start
Understanding what Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and North American Industry Classification Codes (NAICS) are and how they work is very useful for company searches. This guide will show you how to look up codes for different industries and how to use those codes to find companies that may be potential employers.
Finding SIC or NAICS Codes
Many business directories have a look-up feature or cheat sheet that lets you find a code that will represent the type of business you're looking for. Here are some other places to search by key words to find an appropriate code:
Look Up NAICS Codes
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS, pronounced Nakes) was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the standard for use by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy. Use of the standard provides uniformity and comparability in the presentation of these statistical data. NAICS is based on a production-oriented concept, meaning that it groups establishments into industries according to similarity in the processes used to produce goods or services. NAICS replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system in 1997. From NAICS FAQ at https://www.census.gov/eos/
Look Up SIC Codes
What Is a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC Code)?
The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) are four-digit codes that categorize the industries that companies belong to while organizing the industries by their business activities. The SIC codes were created by the U.S. government in 1937 to help analyze economic activity across various industries and government agencies. From www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sic_code.asp
SIC/NAICS Code Tutorial
In this Guide, you will be using business directories. These directories use a system of number codes, in systems called SIC and NAICS, to arrange businesses by type, so the user can find, for example, all the manufacturers of communications equipment.
These numbers are explained in this short video:
You can test what you've learned with this very short quiz: Test yourself.
What Kind of Company Is It?
The kind of company may be a factor in whether you find it in a given directory.
- A public company is one that sells stock on the open market
- It is relatively easy to find detailed information about U.S. public companies, because they are required to register with and report to the Securities and Exchange Commission; their stock prices are reported daily
- Small, local companies are usually private
- A large company may be either private or public
- Some large companies are private, e.g., Levi Strauss & Co.
- Private companies are not required to disclose financials and other information
If you do not find a large company in a directory, it may be private; many directories include only public companies. Another possibility is that the company you are looking for is a subsidiary, or smaller branch, of a larger company.
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