National Occupational Classification (NOC) and Immigration or Work Permit to Canada

Aboubakar is a citizen of the Central African Republic. He is a professional accountant who intends to immigrate to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker program. Of course, he knows he has to apply via the Express Entry system. Regardless, Aboubakar has heard, his work needs to be a NOC Type 0, A, or B to be able to apply for immigration. He has no idea what NOC is and what those types are.

About half of the newcomers immigrate to Canada under the economic programs. Of course, most of these programs rely on the skills and job experiences of the applicants. Canada welcomes most job experiences. However, your level of expertise limits your options. NOC defines your level of expertise.

What is NOC Canada?

The organization that oversees human resources in Canada is ESDC. Of course, ESDC stands for Employment and Social Development Canada. They classify jobs in Canada into more than 500 categories. Nonetheless, each category has a four-digit code. For example, code 7611 refers to “Construction trades helpers and labourers.” Of course, this code covers a large group of job titles, such as demolition workers, drywall sanders, concrete mixer helpers, and bricklayer helpers, among others.

This code and other ESDC four-digit codes fall under a system called National Occupational Classification or NOC. Consequently, the NOC system is a method to define and understand the nature, duties, and requirements of every single job done in Canada.

Skill types under NOC Canada

Skill types refer to the nature of the job and include ten categories, including.

  • 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

Of course, skill type 0 is a bit tricky. For example, all the following people are working under this skill type:

  • The CEO of a large cargo company
  • A small restaurant manager
  • The dean of a university

Skill levels under NOC Canada

NOC divides jobs into five significant skill Levels. Of course, the skill levels reflect the level of education and skills a person needs to get the job. Consequently, they include the following:

  • 0 – refers to managerial positions, such as chief executive officers, senior government managers, college presidents, club managers, and store managers.
  •  A – covers jobs that generally call for a university degree, such as financial auditors, civil engineers, human resource professionals, and physicists.
  • B – refers to jobs that usually require a college diploma, such as admin assistants, event planners, insurance underwriters, plumbers, welders, and customs brokers.
  • C – usually calls for a combination of a high-school diploma and job-specific training, such as transformer winders, court clerks, collectors, payroll administrators, and postal workers.
  • D – refers to labour jobs that usually need on-the-job training, such as fish weighers, meat packagers, cloth carriers, and shipfitter helpers.

As you can see, managerial jobs could fit into both skill types and skill levels. However, it is more common to include them in skill types only.

NOC matrix Canada

NOC matrix shows classifications in a single table.  Of course, you may see the matrix by visiting the ESDC website.

Locating and understanding a NOC code

There are many ways to determine NOC codes. However, the easiest one is probably to visit the “Find Your NOC” page.  Of course, you may enter a job title, a classification, or a code in the search box to see a picture similar to the following.

Here I searched the job title, “dentist” and three NOC codes appeared. Of course, this means you may locate the term “dentist” under each of these classifications. Nonetheless, the first column shows the NOC code, the second column shows the classification title and the last one shows the skill level.

How to find out the details of each NOC code?

If you wish to know more about each NOC code, you need to visit the ESDC website. Consequently, you may search the classifications by job titles or their code. Let’s say you search for NOC code 3113. Thus, you will see something similar to the following picture.

Download the full PDF version of this image.

Understanding the elements of NOC

Some key elements of a NOC code are,

  • the lead statement,
  • main duties,
  • example titles,
  • employment requirements, and
  • exclusions.

The NOC lead statement

Your job must match the lead statement for the NOC or you are looking at the wrong code. Of course, you may find the lead statement underneath the code and title of the NOC. However, keep in mind that some lead statements could cover multiple options and are more flexible. Consult with a professional if you are not sure about the NOC you have picked.

Main duties

Your job must match most of the items you see under the main duties. Of course, the rule of thumb is that if you see less than 60% match, maybe you are looking at the wrong NOC.

Example titles

Use the example titles as guidelines only. Of course, they may help you double-check your findings, but they are not as important as the lead statement and the main duties sections. Consequently, if you do not see your job title, don’t panic!

Employment requirements

If you are applying for a work permit, then study this section carefully. However, if you are applying for immigration to Canada, then this section is not important. Of course, some provinces take this section seriously. Thus, ask a professional or visit the province’s website for clarification.

Exclusions and other sections of NOC

The exclusions section or other sections of NOC could help you make sure if you are on the right page. Luckily, there are plenty of links under those sections to guide you to the correct page.

NOC and immigration to Canada

When you immigrate to Canada, you need to make sure your job experience and skills fall under the expectations for your stream of application. For example, each category of Express Entry demands certain NOC requirements. Of course, you may consult with the IRCC website or a professional to make sure you meet the NOC requirements.

NOC and Work Permit to Canada

If you want to stay and work in Canada on a temporary basis, you may need a work permit. Of course, as mentioned earlier, knowing the NOC code and its employment requirements, could prevent potential mistakes in your work permit application.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting

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This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for official immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.


Updated: May 9, 2020

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches immigration courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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