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Industry Information Research Guide

This guide provides you with a starting point for researching industries.

NAICS & SIC Codes: What Are They and How Will I Use Them?

What are NAICS and SIC Codes?

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes are numerical classification systems created by the United States government. These systems are used to group/classify similar companies into industries for the purposes of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.

What is the difference between NAICS and SIC?

The SIC system was originally developed in the 1930s and was last updated in 1987. The NAICS system was first released in 2002 and last updated in 2017. While NAICS has "officially" replaced SIC, many business directories and databases still use one or both of the systems. Therefore, it is important to know about both SIC and NAICS.

  • SIC codes consist of four digit numbers that apply to a company based on the type of products or services it produces.​ An example of an SIC Code is: 
    5812 = Eating Places
  • The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) employs six digits to allow for greater specificity for classifying an industry. ​An example of a NAICS Code is: 
    722110 = Full Service Restaurants

How NAICS and SIC codes used?

You can use these codes to find information about industries in business databases and directories. Use the codes to: 

  • Identify the lines of business of a company
  • Identify competitors in the industry
  • Locate industry ratios to compare with the company's ratios
  • Generate listings of companies within an industry
  • Find articles and current news about an industry

How Do I Find SIC and NAICS Codes?

Here are two ways to find SIC and NAICS Codes:

Option 1. Search the official government SIC and NAICS manuals online to locate codes and industry descriptions.

Option 2. Locate a company profile for a company that operates within the industry you are researching. Company profiles typically include the company's SIC and NAICS codes. Many companies operate across a variety of industries (e.g. have multiple lines of business) and may have more than one code. A company's primary SIC/NAICS code is usually the first in the listing. These library databases provide company profiles: