Canada's NOC Skill Type Explained in 3 Simple Steps

If you’ve just started researching Canadian immigration, you would’ve come across the term ‘NOC’ quite a bit. The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s standardized form of grouping and categorizing occupations based on several criteria such as:

  • Job title;
  • Lead statement;
  • The type of work that is performed;
  • Duties and responsibilities; and
  • The qualifications needed to perform the work.

NOC codes are a key component in your Canadian immigration process. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses this code to evaluate your ability to immigrate. It also assists you in getting a work permit in Canada.

One of the amazing things about Canada’s NOC system is that every occupation has a code, and you can tell a lot about the job just by analyzing its four-digit code. However, it may seem that there is an overload of information out there. There’s an easier way to decipher the meaning behind each unit of your specific occupation code.

Before applying for permanent residency in Canada, you need to understand the National Occupational Classification (NOC), what the numbers mean, and how they impact the ways in which you can live and work in the country.

Here is Canada's NOC Skill Type Explained in 3 Simple Steps

Step 1: Find Your Occupation’s NOC Code


The first thing you need to do is find your own NOC code based on your occupation. This information will help the Canadian government determine if you're eligible to work in or immigrate to Canada.

Every job in Canada is assigned a code. An easy way to find your code is by looking on the Canadian government website. Remember that the same position might have different names across countries. Make sure you’re aware of what the term for your profession is in Canada. When you click on an NOC four-digit code, you’ll find a more complete description of the obligations.

Finding the correct NOC is very important. If you apply for a visa with the incorrect NOC, or a code that doesn’t correlate with your skills and experience, then you’re in danger of having your application denied.

The two most important components of the NOC system are Skill Types and Skill Levels. According to the classification systems, occupations and subgroups take factors like the following into consideration:

  • the materials processed or used at each level
  • the degree of responsibility and complexity of work performed at each level
  • as well as the products made or services provided at each level
  • what kind of work is being done at that level

NOC organizes occupations by assigning them both a Skill Type and a Skill Level.

Step 2: Determine The Skill Type


Here is Canada's NOC skill type explained in a basic form: there are 10 broad occupation groups numbered from 0 to 9. The wide occupational group is designated by the first digit of the NOC code. Manufacturing and utility jobs, for example, begin with the number 9. Management vocations, which are included in all broad occupational groups, begin with the number 0.

Broad Occupation groups are based on:

  • The sort of work performed
  • The sector of activity
  • Field of training
  • Experience necessary
  • Educational fields
  • Industry of work

Skill Type Classification

  • 0 – Management occupations
  • 1 – Business, finance and administration occupations
  • 2 – Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
  • 3 – Health occupations
  • 4 – Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
  • 5 – Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport
  • 6 – Sales and service occupations
  • 7 – Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations
  • 8 – Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations
  • 9 – Occupations in manufacturing and utility

  Step 3: Determine The Skill Level


The skill level is represented by the second digit of an NOC code and illustrates a wide aggregate of education, training, and work experience, as well as the complexity of the job's duties and responsibilities. There are five skill levels: 0, A, B, C and D. Every skill level has two digits from 0 to 7.

The table below illustrates that the second digit of an NOC code is a 2 or a 3, the skill level associated with the code is B.

Skill Level
Alphabetical CodeNumerical digitEducation and Training
A0 or 1University Degree
B2 or 32-3 years of post-secondary education at a College or Technicon
2-5 years of training or apprenticeship
C4 or 5Secondary school and two years occupational training
specific work experience
D6 or 7No formal educational requirements
On-the-job training

Managerial Occupations

The exception in the formula designed by NOC to classify occupations is management jobs. For Skill Type 0, which is management occupations, the second digit indicates the industry as all industries have management positions.

Occupations according to skill type

Here are some examples of occupations according to the skill type: For example, Skill 0 encompasses management jobs

Occupations According to Skill Type
Skill TypeOccupations
0Restaurant Managers
Retail Managers
Financial Managers
BPolicemen, Chefs. Electricians
CTruck drivers
Industrial butchers
restaurant servers
DCleaning staff
Field workers
Fruit pickers

Hierarchical Structure

The NOC code has four levels:

  • Level 1: 10 Broad categories
  • Level 2: 40 Major Groups
  • Level 3: 140 Minor Groups
  • Level 4: 500 Unit groups

Understanding the terms

Perhaps you’ll see that we throw around a lot of terminologies specific to the NOC. So here’s a breakdown of what some of these important terms mean, like unit group, minor and major groups:

NOC Terms
Job titleThe name of the job or position. Typically classified based on the work that is performed in that position
OccupationA group of jobs that are similar in the activities performed.
Unit GroupA four-digit code used by the NOC that represents one or more occupations combined together
Minor GroupThree digits within the occupation code which represents the area in which an occupation is carried out. This encompasses several unit groups.
Major GroupTwo digits within the occupation code which represents the broad occupational category as well as the occupation skill level. This encompasses several minor groups.
Moving To Canada


The NOC is an important aspect of applying for permanent residency in Canada because your occupation, which is categorized by skill, your job, field, experience and education will determine how you can immigrate to Canada.

Skilled immigrants

You can use the Express Entry system if your skill type is 0, A or B. Under the three sub-programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Canadian Experience Class

Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

In order to qualify for the AIP, you’ll have to have skill type 0, A, B, or C.

Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs)

PNPs accept all skill types as long as you have a skill or belong to an occupation that is in demand in a particular province. The province may then nominate you for immigration. You can have skill types 0, A, B, C or D.

Temporary Work Permits

Getting a work permit in Canada may be a great option if your occupation has a lower skill type. You may be able to apply for temporary work for a period of two years or as a seasonal worker, for example, if you have a skill type C or D.


Why is the NOC important?

Because the system is standardized, everyone in Canada such as statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job searchers can use the codes. It not only classifies occupations but the database also sets out important labour market data needed to apply for a work permit or immigration.

Why can’t I find my job title?

Although the database has more than 30,000 jobs you may find that the job is very specific, and you’ll need to insert a broader job title. Or, it doesn't get used enough to warrant an addition to the list, as the list doesn't contain every single possible occupation out there. Using a generic job title will fix this issue.

What’s Next?

We hope that you understand the NOC's structure and components as well as the significance and applicability of the NOC a little better now. Having Canada's NOC skill type explained might alleviate some of the confusion created by the system. If you can identify jobs in accordance with the classification system then you’re well on your way to submitting the correct information for your visa.

This is just one component of understanding the immigration process. To get the bigger picture, contact us today and we’ll put you in touch with an immigration specialist: a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) who will break down your options for you and make your process of moving to Canada as simple as these three steps.