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What is an NOC Code?

Updated: November 14th, 2022

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is recognized in Canada as a standardized system that allocates a four-digit code and job description to every existing occupation in the Canadian labour market.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the NOC matrix, to evaluate an immigration applicant’s work experience. The system simplifies the process of finding qualified and skilled working professionals to fill jobs in Canada.

To immigrate to and find work in Canada, it is necessary to first find your NOC code, which must be included with your work experience on a work permit application or when you apply for a job. This step is essential before you apply for a job in Canada because there are economic immigration streams that are limited to applicants with experience in occupations identified by specific NOC codes.

Did you know that as part of our evaluation process, we curate a detailed CV for you, with NOC codes aligned to your past working experience? This gives our clients exactly what they need in order to find the ideal job for them. We also offer advice on the best places to move to in Canada based on the jobs needed in a particular province, and your skills to meet those job requirements.

Most of Canada’s economic immigration programs, including the Express Entry-linked programs use the NOC system. This is why it’s so important to understand NOC codes and how it works, as this will only help your success as an applicant.

Canada is about to alter its occupations classification, phasing in NOC 2021 from NOC 2016 (the system used until now). While there are a few major changes to finding your NOC, and what it means for immigration and working in Canada, you will ultimately need to understand the old system to find which category you fit into now. 

How Does Canada’s Current NOC system Work

Every NOC code has an associated job title, lead statement, and list of major duties and responsibilities. When it comes to Canadian immigration and determining your NOC code, your job title is not as important as your work experience, which needs to match the lead statement. You should have performed most of the duties and responsibilities listed.

This means that your work experience could fall under several different NOC codes and your job title may be under an NOC code that doesn’t actually match your experience. Knowing this is important to your application as choosing the incorrect code could have your application refused

The NOC occupations are arranged by skill type and skill level. Generally, the skill type is the first digit of the code and the skill level by the second digit. When an immigration program refers to occupations as high-skilled or low-skilled, they are referring to the second digit of the NOC code.

NOC Skill Types

The NOC Skill Type identifies the industry of the occupation. There are 10 Skill Types in the NOC matrix:

  • 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 utilities The first digit of most NOC codes identifies the Skill Type of the occupation.

Take a look at the best NOC jobs in Canada.

NOC Skill Levels

There are four skill levels in the NOC matrix, they identify occupations by the amount and type of education and training that would be needed to perform the duties of a certain occupation. The skill level assigned to an occupation also depends on how complicated the job duties are:

  • A: Occupations that usually require university education
  • B: Occupations that usually require college education or apprenticeship training
  • C: Occupations that usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training
  • D: Occupations that usually require on-the-job training

There is an exception to the above rule when it comes to management occupations. Since there are management positions in all industries, the second digit of all management jobs indicates the industry of the occupation.

High-skilled and low-skilled work

For the purpose of immigration:

  • Skill Level A or B, or Skill Type 0 is considered high-skilled work.
  • Skill Level C or D is considered low-skilled work.

There are a few immigration programs that may refer to semi-skilled work, which includes all occupations classified as NOC Skill Level A, B, or C, or in Skill Type 0.

Major and Minor Groups

There will be times where immigration programs will refer to NOC Major or Groups.

  • Major Groups: this refers to the first two digits of an NOC code together.
  • Minor Groups: this refers to the first three digits or an NOC code

Still not sure how it works, check out this quick video that explains NOC codes in 3 simple steps.

Finding Your NOC Code

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has created a tool that makes finding your NOC code faster and easier. You can search your NOC code on the tool by using words that are in your job title and related to your main duties to find a suitable match.

  • Step 1: Enter your job title on the NOC website in the ‘job title’ tab.
  • Step 2: Write down the numeric code (4-digit code in the Unit Group column)
  • Step 3: Write down the NOC title (Broad occupational column)
  • Step 4: Write down the NOC skill level or type (Skill level column)
  • Step 5: On the NOC website, click on the ‘Search by NOC code’ tab, and search for your NOC title or numeric code

You will now see the job title under the NOC code you chose, along with the job and work experience description. If this result does not match your job or work experience or align with the duties you have performed as a skilled worker, then you must find the correct NOC code

Given the importance of choosing the right NOC code, to ensure that you choose the right one and to prevent your application from being rejected, you can get in touch with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC)

Canada’s New NOC System

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 will be the new system used by the Canadian government starting on November 16, 2022.

The new NOC system will classify jobs according to training, education, experience, and responsibilities rather than skill levels.

The NOC 2021 replaces the existing four-category "skill level" framework with a six-category system, which is the most significant change. The new system specifies the amount of TEER (Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities) needed to enter each occupation. You can learn more about the TEER system here.

Here is a table that explains the conversions:

NOC 2016 v NOC 2021
NOC 2016NOC 2021
Skill Type 0TEER 0
Skill Level ATEER 1
Skill Level BTEER 2
Skill Level BTEER 3
Skill Level CTEER 4
Skill Level DTEER 5

And this table explains the different TEER descriptions:

TEER Descriptions
NOC 2016 NOC 2021
TEER 0 Managerial Positions
  • Univeristy degree or
  • Various years of experience in a TEER 2 field
  • Completed a post-secondary degree,
  • 2-3 years in a college or apprenticeship, or
  • Several years in a TEER 3 occupation
TEER 3 Completion of a post-secondary education program lasting less than two years at a:
  • Community college.
  • Institute of technology.
  • An apprenticeship training lasting less than two years;
  • more than six months of on-the-job training, training courses,
  • specialized work experience; or
  • several years of experience in a particular occupation from TEER category 4.
  • Secondary school graduation;
  • several weeks of on-the-job training combined with some secondary schooling; or
  • several years of experience in a particular TEER category 5 employment.
TEER 5 There are no formal schooling prerequisites and a brief work demonstration.

What it means for potential applicants

Express Entry profiles may only currently be submitted by applicants who have NOC skill classes A, B, or 0 of work experience. Jobs in TEERs 0, 1, and 3 will qualify for Express Entry programs under the new system.

Many professions that were previously eligible for the NOC system will still be eligible for Express Entry. However, due to their increased educational and experience criteria, 16 formerly ineligible jobs will now qualify for Express Entry.

The Skill Type/Level update table will be used to determine your points based on the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) selection criteria.

It follows that you will still earn the same number of points for work in TEER 0, 1, or 2 as you would have received 10 for employment in Skill Type/Level 0, A, or B.

New Occupations

According to a previously published internal briefing paper, three jobs will no longer qualify for Express Entry, and a total of 16 jobs will. Beginning November 16, the following professions will be qualified for Express Entry:

  • Payroll administrators
  • Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistant
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
  • Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants
  • Elementary and secondary school teacher assistants
  • Sheriffs and bailiffs
  • Correctional service officers
  • Bylaw enforcement and other regulatory officer
  • Estheticians, electrologists and related occupations
  • Residential and commercial installers and servicers
  • Pest controllers and fumigators
  • Other repairers and servicers
  • Transport truck drivers
  • Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators
  • Heavy equipment operators; and
  • Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors.

Find Your TEER

You will first need to know your NOC code under the new 2021 system in order to determine your TEER level.

If you are familiar with your NOC code from the previous system, you can utilize the Correspondence Table from Statistics Canada to determine your new code. Your TEER level may be identified by glancing at the second number of your five-digit NOC code once you have located it.

Giving the IRCC Your NOC Code

Once you have your NOC code, you must provide supporting documents in your application, with the most important being your reference letter

You can get your reference letter from your previous employers, which will support your immigration application. This is what you will use when you are looking for jobs in Canada. It is very important because it will act as an employment verification letter.

The reference letter must include:

  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Average working hours per week
  • Dates of your employment
  • List of employment duties

Your list of employment duties is the most important information on your reference letter from an employer because it is what your visa officer will mainly look at when reviewing your case. For this reason, it is in your best interest to ask for reference letters and prepare them as soon as possible, even before you start with your immigration application.

You can include supporting documents to prove that you claimed the correct NOC code. This can include a certification that the job you are applying for requires, tax returns or pay stubs that can prove the employment dates on your reference letter(s) and salary.


Who uses the NOC?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the NOC to evaluate an immigration applicant’s work experience as well as to identify skills shortages in the Canadian job market.Students, workers, employers, career and vocational counsellors, and educational and training organizations also use the NOC, almost every day.

You will need your NOC code to prove the work experience that you intend to claim CRS points.

How many NOC codes are there?

Altogether, there are about 35,000 job titles in 500 unit groups

Does my NOC code affect my CRS score?

No, there is no direct effect on your CRS score. Although your code will prove the type of work experience that you may be eligible to claim PR points for, what is most important when trying to boost your CRS score is to increase the amount of work experience under that specific NOC code.

After Finding Your NOC code

Now that you know how to find your own NOC Code you will not only be able to determine which immigration and visa programs you qualify for but will also be able to confidently apply for jobs in Canada. The NOC code doesn’t just help Immigration Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to evaluate your skill level and work experience, it also allows you to find out what is expected of you once you start working in Canada as well as whether you will need extra training depending on your occupation and qualifications.

Having this knowledge, however, will not guarantee success in your Canadian visa application. The application process is complex and intricate and just the slightest oversight could cause delays in processing times or even lead to a denied visa.

How can you improve your chances? The first step is having an evaluation done by professionals who deal with immigration and visa applications every day.

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