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Most of Canada’s economic immigration programs, including the Express Entry-aligned programs, use the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system to assess work experience, job offers, and employment requirements.

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about NOC codes, as they relate 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.

In addition to categorising occupations, the NOC system provides information about each occupation, including job titles, descriptions of duties, and responsibilities related to the occupation, and training requirements a person usually has to complete before they can work in that occupation.

When an occupation is categorised within the NOC system, it is given a five-digit code. This is called the National Occupational Classification system code, or 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. These codes are used in developing recruitment strategies, in conducting research and analysis, and in Canadian immigration.


NOC codes and skill levels

Certain Canadian immigration programs are targeted towards 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, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Class) 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.


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


  • 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.


  • Occupations that usually require a college diploma, apprenticeship training of less than 2 years, or more than 6 months of on-the-job training.
  • Examples include: Bakers, Dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants.


  • 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


  • 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, work experience obtained in TEER categories 4 and 5 is considered 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.

With the IRCC tool linked above, you search by using words in your job title and related to your main duties until you find a strong match. When choosing an NOC code, the most important detail is to 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, including all Express Entry-aligned programs, you will need to submit letters of reference from your current and previous employers. Immigration 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.