The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a nationally recognized and standardized system that assigns a four digit code and job description to every occupation in the Canadian labour market.
The NOC assigns a code, referred to as a NOC code, to every single occupation that exists in the Canadian labour market using the NOC matrix. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses NOC codes to evaluate every immigration applicant’s work experience. Whenever immigration applicants are asked to identify work experience, they must do so by indicating the NOC code that best fits their experience. Some economic immigration streams are even limited to applicants with experience in occupations identified by specific NOC codes. It’s therefore incredibly important that you, as an applicant, understand how NOC codes work.
Understanding NOC Codes
Choosing the right NOC code is one of the most important parts of your immigration application. If you claim a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your work experience, your application may be refused or returned to you. It’s up to you to make sure that you choose the appropriate NOC code and that you have the documentation to prove it. Every NOC code has an associated job title, lead statement, and list of major duties and responsibilities.
For Canadian immigration purposes, your actual job title is not important in determining your NOC code. Instead, your work experience has to match the lead statement, and you should have performed most of the duties and responsibilities listed. Your work experience might therefore fall under a couple of different NOC codes, or your official job title might be associated with a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your experience.
The NOC organizes occupations by assigning them both a Skill Type, and a Skill Level. Usually, the Skill Type is identified by the first digit of the NOC code and the Skill Level is identified by the second digit. Canadian immigration programs usually refer to occupations as being high-skilled or low-skilled. This refers to the Skill Level of the NOC code assigned to the occupation.
NOC Skill Types
The NOC Skill Type identifies the industry of the occupation. There are ten 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.
NOC Skill Levels
The NOC Skill Level identifies occupations by the amount and type of education and training that is generally required to perform the duties of an occupation. The complexity and responsibilities typical of an occupation are also considered in assigning a Skill Level. There are four Skill Levels in the NOC matrix:
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
Each of these Skill Levels is usually represented by the second digit in NOC codes:
A – 0 or 1 B – 2 or 3 C – 4 or 5 D – 6 or 7
The first digit of a NOC code indicates the Skill Type, while the second digit indicates Skill Level. The only exception to this formula is occupations in Skill Type 0: Management occupations. Since there are management occupations in each employment industry, the second digit of all management occupations indicates the industry of the occupation.
Example: An information systems manager would be classified as NOC 0213. The first digit, 0, indicates that this is a management position. The second digit, 2, identifies it as a position in the national and applied sciences industry.
High-skilled and low-skilled work
For immigration purposes, any occupation classified as Skill Level A or B, or in Skill Type 0 (management occupations) is considered high-skilled work. Any occupation classified as Skill Level C or D is considered low-skilled work. Some immigration programs may also refer to semi-skilled work, which includes all occupation classified as NOC Skill Level A, B, or C, or in Skill Type 0.
Major and Minor Groups
Sometimes, immigration program guides might refer to NOC Major or Minor Groups.
Major Groups refer to the first two digits of a NOC code together. For example, Major Group 31 refers to most occupations in the health industry (Skill Type 3) that generally require university education (Skill Level A). All of these occupations will be assigned a NOC code that begins with the numbers 31. This includes dentists (3113), pharmacists (3131), and nutritionists (3132), among others.
Minor Groups refer to the first three digits or a NOC code. They group together similar occupations within each major group. For example, judges (4111) and lawyers (4112) are both in Minor Group 411. Social workers (4152) and family counsellors (4153) are both in Minor Group 415. Notice that the first two digits of each minor group refer to the major group it belongs to. In this example, Major Group 41.
Finding Your NOC Code
You can find your NOC code by searching the NOC matrix either by your industry, or by keywords such as your job title. Be sure to check that the lead statement matches your job description, and that you perform the majority of the duties and responsibilities listed under the NOC code.
Pay close attention to the NOC exclusions also. If your occupation seems to match a certain NOC code, but also matches one of the NOC codes listed as an exclusion, you may not claim that occupation. Whichever NOC code you claim, you will need to prove that it is accurate by providing reference letters from your past employers. In the event that your occupations seems to match multiple NOC codes, you must determine which one best fits your experience. Keep in mind that the visa officer reviewing your application will have in-depth knowledge of the NOC matrix. If they determine that your occupations best fits a different NOC code, they may refuse your application. Search the NOC Matrix below