NAICS stands for the North American Industry Classification System. It is the system we use to categorize businesses based on their industry.
It is a hierarchical system and there are five levels to it. You can view the full hierarchy from the search page by clicking the button below the industry filter labeled “NAICS Explorer”.
At the top of the hierarchy are the 2-digit sectors. These are the broadest categorizations and will result in a lot of businesses being returned. For example 23 is Construction and any NAICS code that starts with 23 is under this sector. There are a few very large sectors that are span multiple 2-digit codes such as Manufacturing, which is represented by “31-33”, that is any NAICS code that starts with 31, 32, or 33 is in the manufacturing sector.
The next level down and slightly more specific are the 3-digit sub-sectors. Each sector has multiple sub-sectors below it. An example is 236, or “Construction of Buildings” which is a sub-sector of Construction. Selecting this more specific NAICS code will result in a more targeted list and fewer businesses in your search.
Below sub-sectors are the 4-digit groups. For example 2362 is “Non-Residential Building Construction”.
At the bottom of the hierarchy are the 5- and 6-digit industries. Typically the 5-digit industry is the most granular level needed and this is the default level for our simple industry search. In many cases the 5-digit industry only has one 6-digit under it. Continuing our construction example the 5-digit code 23621 “Industrial Building Construction” only has one 6-digit code under it: 236210 with the same name.
There are however cases where the 6-digit NAICS code helps distinguish the type of business. For example the 5-digit code 53131 is for Real Estate Property Managers, however if we wanted to distinguish between Residential and Non-Residential we would need to use the 6-digit codes 531311 or 531312.