Answered By: Elyse Wolf
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2021     Views: 25

NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. It was adopted in 1997 to replace the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system, though you may see both systems used in library databases to tag company, industry, and article resources.

While these codes can be useful, keep in mind that many companies operate across a range of industries, different resources may assign the codes in a variety of ways, niche or emerging industries are unlikely to have codes, the codes are North America-specific, and that databases may have their own systems for defining industries. 

NAICS codes are designed hierarchically to group related industries together. You can use the leading digits of a code to find:

  • 2-digit code: Sector (Example: Sector codes 31 to 33 are for Manufacturing)
  • 3-digit code: Subsector (Example: Subsector 336 is Transportation Equipment Manufacturing)
  • 4-digit code: Industry Group (Example: Industry Group 3361 is Motor Vehicle Manufacturing)
  • 5-digit code: NAICS Industry (Example: NAICS Industry 33611 is Automobile and Light Duty Motor Vehicle Manufacturing)
  • 6-digit code: National Industry (Example: National Industry 336111 is Automobile Manufacturing)

NAICS codes can be searched through the United States Census Bureau website here: This link opens in a new window

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