Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code – Definition

Cite this article as:"Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated April 26, 2019, last accessed October 19, 2020,


Standard Industrial Classification – SIC Code Definition

The Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) refer to a set of symbols or codes that are used in the United States to classify industry areas and business activities companies engage in. SIC codes are tools that help the U.S government identify the nature of business a company does and areas of specialization of an industry.

The U.S government created the SIC codes in 1937 to have an effective analysis and evaluation of businesses, government agencies and industries. By 1997, the SIC codes were replaced by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) which serves as a new system of six-digit codes. That were adopted by Canada, United States and Mexico.

A Little More on What is a Standard Industrial Classification – SIC Code

The major purpose of the SIC codes was the identification of business activities that a company engage in. These codes were also helpful in the analysis of economic activity of a company or business. SIC codes also improved economic communication between companies and industries and the states that adopted the codes.

SIC codes enable the government to access a listing of company activities which are accessed through the Electronic data gathering, analysis and retrieval system (EDGAR). Tehe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) an agency owned by the United States still uses SIC codes. The codes aid the easy identification of the industry to which a company belongs and its business activities.

References for Standard Industrial Classification

Academic Research on Standard Industrial Classification

Standard industrial classification, Norman, G. (2014). In Dictionary of Industrial Organization. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Revisiting the USPTO concordance between the US patent classification and the Standard Industrial Classification systems, Hirabayashi, J. (2003, September). In WIPO-OECD Workshop on Statistics in the Patent Field, Geneva, Switzerland.

A ‘Standard Industrial Classification‘Coded Strategic Planning Model of Industrial and Commercial Water Demand for UK Regions, Mitchell, G., McDonald, A. T., Wattage, P., & Williamson, P. (2000). Water and Environment Journal, 14(3), 226-232.

The Use of Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes to Classify Activities of Nonprofit Tax-Exempt Organizations, Smith, B. (1992).

A Standard Occupational and Industrial Classification of Workers, Whelpton, P. K., & Hollander, E. (1940). Social Forces, 488-494.


Implementation of Standard Industrial Classification 2007: December 2009 update, Hughes, J. C., James, G., Evans, A., & Prestwood, D. (2009). Economic & Labour Market Review, 3(12), 51-55.

Treatment of Outsourcing in the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), Rev. 4, Becker, R., & Havinga, I. (2007, May). In Note prepared for the OECD Structural Business Statistics Expert Meeting–Paris (pp. 10-11).

Comparative Analysis of Chinese Industrial Classification and International Standard Industrial Classification, Zhuo, W. (2013). Statistical Research, 4, 004.

Evolution of Classification and Enlightenment of Administrative and Support Service Activities in International Standard Industrial Classification, Zhao, Y., & Yuan, Q. J. (2010). Statistical Research, 27, 101-106.

The standard industrial classification of establishments, 1957-1977, Hastings, S. E. (1980). Delaware. Agricultural Experiment Station. Bulletin (USA).

Inside the standard industrial classification codes: How many paper mills are there in Washington?, Ackerman, F., & Morris, J. (1993). Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 4(2), 385-392.


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