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Canada's immigration programs, like Express Entry, use the NOC system to evaluate work experience, job offers, and employment criteria.

This article explains everything about NOC codes and how they are relevant to Canadian immigration.

  • As of November 16, 2022, Canada uses the NOC 2021 occupation classification system.

Overview: The National Occupational Classification System

The National Occupational Classification system is a database developed by the Canadian government. NOC codes categorise every possible occupation a person could have in Canada.

The NOC system categorises jobs and provides information about each job. This includes the job title, duties, responsibilities, and required training.

The NOC system categorizes an occupation and assigns it a five-digit code called the NOC code. Examples of NOC codes include 21231 for software engineers, or 41220 for secondary teachers.

Many different Canadian industries and organisations use NOC codes. Some of the use cases include developing recruitment strategies, conducting research and analysis, and—of course—Canadian immigration. For example, when you create an Express Entry profile, your work experience will only count for points if it is categorised as a skilled occupation.

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NOC codes and TEER categories

Certain Canadian immigration programs target prospective immigrants with work experience in certain Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) categories. For example, all three Express Entry-aligned programs—Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades (FST), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC)—only accept candidates with “skilled work experience”. But what qualifies as skilled work experience?

There are a total of six TEER categories:

TEER 0 (zero):

  • Management positions across all industries and sectors.
  • Examples include: Advertising, marketing and public relations managers, Financial managers.

TEER 1:

  • Occupations that usually require a university degree.
  • Examples include: Financial advisors, Software engineers.

TEER 2:

  • Occupations that usually require a college diploma, apprenticeship training of two or more years, or supervisory occupations.
  • Examples include: Computer network and web technicians, Medical laboratory technologists.

TEER 3:

  • Jobs that need a college degree, short apprenticeship, or long on-the-job training.
  • Examples include: Bakers, Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants.

TEER 4:

  • Occupations that usually require a high school diploma, or several weeks of on-the-job training.
  • Examples include: Home child care providers, Retail salespersons and visual merchandisers

TEER 5:

  • Occupations that usually need short-term work demonstration and no formal education.
  • Examples include: Landscaping and grounds maintenance labourers, Delivery service drivers and door-to-door distributors.

In Canadian immigration, skilled work experience is work experience obtained in TEER categories 0, 1, 2, and 3. Meanwhile, Canada considers work experience obtained in TEER categories 4 and 5 as intermediate- or low-skilled work experience.

How do you find your NOC code and skill level?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has designed a tool that makes finding your NOC code quick and easy. Just head over to IRCC’s find your NOC code search tool.

You can use the IRCC tool to search for a job match by using words from your job title and related duties. When choosing an NOC code, make sure that the duties and responsibilities listed on the NOC database match the duties and responsibilities that you performed when you held the position.

If you apply for Canadian permanent residence through a skilled worker program (i.e. Express Entry-aligned programs) you will need to submit letters of reference from your current and previous employers. IRCC officers will check the letters to ensure that the duties and responsibilities match those of the NOC code you’ve claimed. Officers will also consider your job title, related education, and salary, to check if your NOC code selection is valid.

If you are worried about choosing the right NOC codes for your current and previous jobs, we recommend talking to an immigration expert. Book a consultation with one of our recommended registered Canadian immigration consultants to get all of your questions answered.