How to Find Company SIC Codes

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Small businesses can use SIC codes to identify opportunities and search competitor profiles.
Small businesses can use SIC codes to identify opportunities and search competitor profiles. (Image: abluecup/iStock/Getty Images)

The Standard Industrial Classification, or SIC, organizes business establishments into specific segments and subcategories against which the businesses can be identified, analyzed or compared. Use of SIC codes makes it possible to locate companies using their unique numerical identities assigned according to industry types. For small businesses, SIC codes come in handy when seeking to use specified industry descriptions to identify contracts from government institutions.

Understanding SIC Codes

SIC codes ideally begin with divisions that branch out to major groups, designated with two digits. These split further into industry groups -- three digits -- before finally disaggregating to the industries level of four digits. Divisions represent the largest segments of company classifications, with the industries level representing the furthest points of the classifications. Finding SIC codes involves the use of keywords to search the web. Some useful links include the U.S. Census Bureau and Hoover’s Online Business Network.

Different From NAICS

The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, was unveiled in 1997 in response to concerns over the inability of SIC codes to keep pace with changing trends. Government agencies subsequently abandoned SIC codes in favor of NAICS. The preference for NAICS was prompted by the capability of its lengthier six-digit code to cover a higher number of sectors and sub-sectors. Nonetheless, SIC codes and NAICS continue to exist side by side as they serve the same purpose of differentiating and grouping businesses.

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