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.
Overview: The National Occupational Classification System
The National Occupational Classification system is a database developed by the Canadian government to categorize every possible occupation a person could have in Canada.
In addition to categorizing 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 categorized within the NOC system, it is given a four-digit code. This is called the National Occupational Classification system code, or NOC code.
Many different Canadian industries and organizations use NOC codes. These codes are used in developing recruitment strategies, in conducting research and analysis, and in Canadian immigration.
NOC Skill Levels
Certain Canadian immigration programs are targeted towards prospective immigrants with work experience at certain NOC Skill Levels. 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?
The National Occupational Classification system divides occupations into five broad Skill Levels:
NOC Skill Level 0 (zero):
- Skilled work.
- Management positions across all industries and sectors.
- Examples include: Restaurant managers, Engineering Managers, Chief Executive Officers.
NOC Skill Level A:
- Skilled work.
- Professional occupations that usually require a university degree.
- Examples include: Dentists, Teachers, Lawyers.
NOC Skill Level B:
- Skilled work.
- Technical occupations that usually require a college diploma or technical training.
- Examples include: Chefs, Plumbers, Electricians.
NOC Skill Level C:
- Intermediate-skilled work (not eligible for skilled worker immigration).
- Intermediate jobs that usually require high-school education and on-the-job training.
- Examples include: Butchers, Restaurant servers, Truck drivers.
NOC Skill Level D:
- Low-skilled work (not eligible for skilled worker immigration).
- Labour occupations, usually providing on-the-job training.
- Examples include: Fruit pickers, cleaning staff.
In Canadian immigration, skilled work experience is work experience obtained at NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B. Meanwhile, work experience obtained at NOC Skill Levels C and D 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, 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 do apply for Canadian permanent residence through a skilled worker program, including all Express Entry-aligned programs, you will have 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 code for your experience, 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.