How to Get Your NOC Code

If you are trying to work in Canada, either temporarily or permanently, you have likely come accross the term National Occupation Classification (or NOC).

 

What is the National Occupation Classification maintained by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)?

The National Occupation Classification is the Canadian government's means of sorting different jobs throughout Canada, by what type of field they are in, what type of education they require, and what type of skills may be required to do the job. Canada's work-based immigration programs rely on the NOC list to help determine what jobs need filling by temporary or permanent immigrants. The National Occupation Classification system lets the government better judge where skill-shortages are, and which workers will succeed in Canada and best improve the Canadian economy.

The NOC was created to replace the Canadian Classification and Dictionary of Occupations (CCDO), an outdated list of occupations published in 1981. The NOC is updated after every census, with other research conducted in between censuses meaning that, unlike the CCDO which was intended as a permanent list of jobs in Canada, but which had stop reflecting the changing nature of Canada and the World, the NOC is always up-to-date with even the newest job titles.

The NOC is absolutely gigantic: there are 500 "occupational groups" with many job titles within each of these groups. One of the reasons you likely haven't heard much about the NOC is that it is extremely unfriendly to anyone who doesn't know what they are doing. Usually, immigration consultants and lawyers will not even mention the NOC, they will just discuss Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) with you.

The NOC is used by all sorts of professionals outside of immigration as well, but this article covers its importance for Canadian temporary and permanent residents and their employers.

 

Why Do I Need to Know About the NOC?

Workers

If you are coming to Canada to work, of if you are already in Canada working as a temporary resident, you or your employer will either need to know about the NOC or you will have to hire an immigration professional that knows about the NOC. The NOC is used by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to figure out which occupations are being worked in Canada, and they sort them by what skill levels these jobs need. HRSDC can then see what employee shortages there are. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the government department in charge of immigration, depends on HRSDC's opinion of the job situation in Canada to determine which jobs to choose for Canadian immigration programs' selection criteria. The NOC is used in part to help determine what a federal skilled worker is, or a federal skilled tradesperson, and even what should qualify as Canadian experience for the CEC. The NOC code gives the the government a job title and lets them figure out whether or not this job is needed in Canada, if it is then HRSDC will produce a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) and this used to apply for status in Canada.

Unfortunately, CIC often publicizes which jobs are still available for the annual quotas for its immigration streams by the NOC code itself, and not by the job title. (For example, on its twitter feed.) So if you are following CIC trying to keep track of the skilled trades quotas, you need to know the NOC code to know if you still have a chance to apply this year for any quota-based stream, such as Federal Skilled Worker or Federal Skilled Trades.

The provinces usually rely on NOC terms and codes in their descriptions about their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) as well. Knowing nothing about the NOC can make researching these programs confusing.

Learn more about the options for working in Canada.

 

Employers

If you have a position that nobody in Canada is able to fill - or you want to keep on a temporary foreign worker and help him or her become a permanent citizen - you will need the NOC Code and its accompanying job title in order to make the case to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and HRSDC that you need to hire a foreign worker. You will normally have to submit an LMO in support of your worker's application and the NOC job title is necessary for the LMO.

 

How Does the NOC Relate to an Application to Work in Canada?

NOC Codes are required for all work-related immigration streams in Canada which require Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) in support. The list of occupations that do not require LMOs is very short; most occupations do.

Federal Programs:

NOC codes are required for:

NOC codes are how CIC determines which jobs are available for federal skilled worker applications, i.e. applications from highly educated people outside of Canada who want to work and live permanently in this country. They are also used for the newly launched skilled trades stream, which has opened up Canadian permanent residence to those with experience in particular trades.

The NOC is also used for the Canadian Experience Class stream, which prioritizes those with work experience in Canada. The NOC codes are what CIC uses to judge whether or not they view your particular occupation as valuable enough to Canada to allow you to apply for permanent residence.

Work permits require Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) as CIC will issue temporary work permits only when there is a clear need for more people to work in that profession in Canada.

 

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs):

NOC codes are sometimes needed for LMOs to add additional support during Provincial Nomination for the following streams:

NOC codes and titles are used by the provinces and territories in communicating with CIC and HRSDC to get the immigrants they need. CIC has the final say on all immigration applications, including all PNP applications, and so the PNPs make use of NOC information from HRSDC to show CIC what types of occupations they need most. This use of the NOC for PNPs extends across most programs, as the PNPs exist so that the provinces can target certain groups of immigrants that the federal government may not view as as important to the Canadian economy as a whole. However, Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) are not normally a requirement for the actual application process. They are sometimes submitted in support of applications, or are applied for during the process of actually hiring the candidate in the first place.

Once you have a NOC code you or your employer or your representative can apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), if necessary, which is HRSDC's way of indicating that a job exists that you can fill. (Some occupations are exempt from the requirement of a LMO, but most are not.)

 

What is a NOC Code?

The codes published as part of the National Occupation Classification are four digit codes that indicate information about the nature of the job. Each code comes with a description of the occupation but the code indicates certain information about that occupation not included in the job description.

 

How Do I Read a NOC Code?

Skill Types

The first digit of the NOC Code indicates the skill level. HRSDC has divided all occupations in Canada into 10 different skill types:

NOC Digit

Skill Type

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

This information is taken from the NOC guide.

Management occupations are classified separately than all other 'skill types'. It doesn't matter what skill area a management occupation is in, it is still classified as "0" in the codes.

 

Skill Levels

The NOC is also divided into skill levels, represented by both a letter and a number. If you are trying to come to Canada, or you are already here working, you have no doubt come across something like "NOC A" or "NOC D"; this indicates the skill level of the required job. The letter codes are also translated into the second number of each NOC code:

NOC Skill Level

Explanation

Code

Type of Education or Training

Canadian Immigration Programs

A

Occupations which usually require a university education. 0 or 1 University degree at the Bachelor's, Master's or Doctorate level.

B

Occupations which usually require college or vocational education or apprenticeship training.

(Note: In Canada, college is distinct from university. College usually implies more technical and practical training whereas university implies more theoretical training. The line is blurring all the time, however.)

2 or 3 2-3 years of post-secondary education at a community college, institute of technology or CGEP OR
2-5 years of apprenticeship training OR

3-4 years of secondary school and more than 2 years of on-the-job training, specialized training courses or specific work experience.

(This includes occupations with 'supervisory responsibilities' and occupations with 'significant' health and safety responsibilities, such as firefighters, police officers and registered nursing assistants.)

C

Occupations which usually require secondary school (High School) and / or occupation-specific training. 4 or 5 Some secondary school education, with up to 2 years on-the-job training, training courses or specific work experience.

D

Occupations which require little-to-no previous education or training and training is provided on the job. 6 or 7 Short work demonstration or on-the-job training AND / OR
No formal education requirements.

This information is taken from the NOC guide.

 

Major Occupation Groups

The 3rd digit of the NOC code represents the "Major Group" of the occupation. HRSDC has divided all professions in Canada into 40 categories or 'major groups.' These groups include the skill type code from above an a second number which indicates the skill level.

Management Occupations

Canadian Immigration Programs

00 Senior management occupations Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
01-05 Specialized middle management occupations Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
06 Middle management occupations in retail and wholesale trade and customer services Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
07-09 Middle management occupations in trades, transportation, production and utilities Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker

Business, Finance and Administration Occupations

 
11 Professional occupations in business and finance Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
12 Administrative and financial supervisors and administrative occupations Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
13 Finance, insurance and related business administrative occupations Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
14 Office support occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
15 Distribution, tracking and scheduling co-ordination occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

Natural and Applied Science Related Occupations

 
21 Professional occupations in natural and applied sciences Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
22 Technical occupations related to natural and applied sciences Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
Health Occupations  
30 Professional occupations in nursing Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
31 Professional occupations in health (except Nursing) Worker Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
32 Technical occupations in health Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
34 Assisting occupations in support of health services Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

Occupations in Education, Law and Social, Community and Government Services

 
40 Professional occupations in education services Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
41 Professional occupations in law and social, community and government services Worker Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
42 Para-professional occupations in legal, social, community and education services Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
43 Occupations in front-line public protection services Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
44 Care providers and educational, legal and public protection support occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

Occupations in Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

 
51 Professional occupations in art and culture Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker
52 Technical occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC

Sales and Service Occupations

 
62 Retail sales supervisors and specialized sales occupations Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
63 Service supervisors and specialized service occupations Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
64 Sales representatives and salespersons – wholesale and retail trade Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
65 Service representatives and other customer and personal services occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
66 Sales and support occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
67 Service support and other service occupations not elsewhere classified Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

Trades, Transport and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations

 
72 Industrial, electrical and construction trades Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
73 Maintenance and equipment operation trades Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
74 Other installers, repairers and servicers and material handlers Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
75 Transport and heavy equipment operation and related maintenance occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
76 Trades helpers, construction labourers and related occupations Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

Natural Resources, Agriculture and Related Production Occupations

 
82 Supervisors and technical occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
84 Workers in natural resources, agriculture and related production Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
86 Harvesting, landscaping and natural resources labourers Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

Occupations in Manufacturing and Utilities

 
92 Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators Work Permit; Federal Skilled Worker; PNP Skilled Worker; Federal Skilled Trades; CEC
94 Processing and manufacturing machine operators and related production workers Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
95 Assemblers in manufacturing Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker
96 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities Work Permit; PNP Semi-Skilled Worker

This information is taken from the NOC Guide.

The rules for defining the second digit do not apply to the management occupations, which is why the second digit for those occupations goes up to 9, not 7. I know, it's confusing.

 

Minor and Unit Groups

Then, occupations are divided into 140 'minor groups', which we will not list here. This category is represented by the third digit.

The final division is called a "unit group", which is represented by the fourth digit. There are 500 unit groups which include numerous job titles. The NOC is indeed gigantic.

 

Example

Let's take the occupation 'Insurance Agents and Brokers', code 6231. The code breaks down as follows:

  • 6 is the skill type code for sales and service occupations;
  • 2 is a skill level code for some post-secondary education (below an actual university degree);
  • 3 is the code that indicates it is the third minor group within the profession, below sales supervisors and specialists in the field;
  • 1 is the code for the occupation's unit group, one of three inthe 623 minor group (the others are 6232 - Real estate agents and salespersons and 6233 - Financial sales representatives).

That's one of the hundreds of codes.

 

Get a NOC Code

If you are applying on your own for either a skilled worker, semi-skilled worker or skilled trades program, or a Canadian or provincial experience program, you or your employer will likely need your NOC code to get a labour market opinion.  You can discover your NOC code, or the NOC code of the person you intend to hire on HRSDC's website by going to http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/SearchIndex.aspx. Below is a guide to how you can find your NOC using the search page.

 

Choose how you want to search

Printscreen of NOC Search Tool

The NOC can be searched by 

The 'Index of Titles' is a list of job titles widely used within Canada with their matching codes.

Searching by structure lets you follow the way the codes are laid out, and browse that way.

Searching by description allows you to make use of keywords contained with the descriptions of each occupation.

'Complex Search' is basically an advanced search feature for users with a very specific idea of what they are looking for.

 

Using the Index of Titles

Printscreen for Searching the Index of Titles

You can

  • browse the Index of Titles alphabetically;
  • search by keyword, which is similar to searching by description but only searches job titles;
  • search by NOC Code, which is not useful if you don't know the NOC code in the first place;
  • search by Skill Type and Skill level, which is similar to searching by structure.

 

Browsing the Index of Titles alphabetically

Printscreen of the Index of Titles by letter

If you are pretty sure of the English language job title(s) appropriate to your experience this is a good place to start. You can browse by letter and, once on the page, you can search the page for your job and find the correponding NOC Code.

Index of Titles: A

You can do this by pressing CTRL and F at the same time and then typing into the field that appears the term you are searching for. If you can't find it, try using a synonym of the term you are looking for.

Printscreen of using find to locate airframe occupations in the Index of Titles

 

Searching the Index of Titles by keyword

If you don't want to browse alphabetically you can search the job titles by keyword.

Print Screen of Keyword Search Function of Index of Titles

Just type in the keyword and see the results.

Printscreen of finding manager keyword in search results for project in Index of Titles

This tool is useful if you are pretty sure you know what your title would be in Canada or if you are looking for variations on a job title. If you are not sure about the job title, it is less useful.

 

Searching the Index of Titles by NOC Code

This is a search function that is intended for people who have a NOC code but who want the description.

Print Screen of Searching the Index of Titles by NOC Code

It is likely only useful to you after you have your NOC code and if you need to verify the description of the occupation, or the exact wording of the job title. This search method is not normally used by the general public.

 

Searching the Index of Titles by Skill Type and Skill Level

Printscreen of searching Index of Titles by skill type and skill level

This is useful if you really aren't sure what your job title is called in Canada. You must pick the skill type based on the HRSDC's classification listed above.

Printscreen of selecting skill type

You must then do the same for the skill level:

Prinscreen of selecting skill level

This search produces very large results - much like the alphabetical search - so you should make use of CTRL-F to make your life easier.

Searching the results for project manager

Though this does let you search job titles when you do not know what job title you are looking for, it may be time-consuming to search for your title. For example, I am Canadian-born and on the first try I failed to pick the right skill type or skill level when looking for my own job title.

 

Searching by "Structure"

Much like searching the Index of Titles by skill level and skill type, searching by structure involves choosing a skill level and skill type, only the results are different. This method produces minor and unit groups:

Screenshot of searching the NOC by structure

By clicking on the Unit Group, you are given detailed information about that group and opportunity to see a full list of job titles.

Printscreen of Unit Group 1122

You will have to use CTRL-F to search the list of job titles:

Unit Group 1122 Job Titles

As with searcing the Index of Titles by this method, it involves a lot of guesswork. Again, my first guess proved wrong when looking for my own job title.

 

Searching by description

An easier method might be searching the NOC by the words located in job descriptions:

Printscreen of searching the NOC by description

The search returns unit groups and then you have to browse among them to see what fits your experience.

Printscreen of Project Manager search results in NOC

Unfortunately I seem to have not been able to find my job title here either. Clicking on the unit group gives you the same unit group description page as in the structure search. Again you have the option to browse job titles.

 

Complex Search

"Complex Search" is similar to using the description keyword only you are presented with more options:

Print screen of complex search of the NOC

 

Use My NOC Code

Your prospective or current Canadian employer needs the NOC code to complete an application for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). An LMO is a statement from HRSDC about the suitability of hiring a foreign worker to perform this particular job in Canada. If the company you will be working for is large enough, they may have an HR department that might even have experience in applying for LMOs, but if not, you will need to provide the job title associated with the NOC code to your employer so the employer can file the application and hopefully you can work in Canada or continue working in Canada.

Knowing about the NOC is also useful when researching coming to Canada or staying in Canada. Both CIC and the provinces use NOC codes and classifications to describe jobs and skill levels. They use the jargon of the NOC more often than they use common language, and it helps knowing about the NOC.

To learn more about LMOs, see our work permit page.

To learn more about immigration streams to Canada, use our free tool to see your options.

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