NOC Code in Canada – Explained

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Planning on immigrating to Canada but it feels like there’s so much to know before you even get there?

We know it can get complicated and that’s why we’re here to make it easier for you.

Here, we will talk about the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and what it means for you.

What is the NOC code?

The NOC code is used for various reasons in Canada, for example:

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada use it to pinpoint skill shortages in the Canadian labour market
  • Applicants use it when applying to immigrate to Canada, e.g. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs ), Express Entry, etc.

It’s very important to note that if you’re applying for Canada’s immigration programs, you should provide the correct code!

This article will provide you with all you need to know about the NOC code in Canada, such as:

What is express entry?

Let’s start at the beginning – immigration is important for Canada’s economy, so that’s why it has different immigration programs.

In this article, we’ll explain how the NOC code is used for one of the immigration systems – Express Entry.

This is one of the most popular ways through which Canada welcomes skilled immigrants.

You can apply for Express Entry if you want to enter through any of the following programs:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program.

The way Express Entry works is: skilled immigrants are prioritized by a point-based system known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) – so it can be quite competitive.

Therefore, the more points you have the higher chance you have of being selected from the pool of candidates!

Read on to see how the NOC code is linked to the Express Entry application.

Read Also:


How can I get higher points?

The CRS takes into account your:

  • Age – you’ll get the most points if you’re between 20-29
  • Education – you’ll rank higher the more education you have
  • Language competency – advanced language ability in English or French
  • Work experience

For ‘work experience’ you’ll need to have had certain occupations or work experiences.

That’s why Canada has the NOC code – to make it easier and more comprehensible to classify the jobs available on the labour market!

How does the NOC code work?

Before delving into all the aspects of the NOC code you must know that there are different versions of the NOC code and this is because it’s reviewed and updated every couple of years.

Previously, there was the 2016 version.

However, there have been updates since -the 2021 version.

The 2021 version is expected to come into effect in mid-2022, so until then you should use the 2016 version.

But don’t worry – we’ll explain both starting with the 2016 version!

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2016 NOC code

The NOC code is made up of four digits, each representing a different aspect:

  • First number – occupation
  • Second number – education/training
  • Third number – further divides occupations
  • Fourth number – further specifies occupations

Let’s delve deeper into each.

First digit – NOC code

The first number of the NOC code is known as ‘skill type’. It essentially outlines the level of education or training needed to do a job efficiently.

Occupations in Canada are divided into 10 skill types.

Skill Type Occupation
0 Management jobs
1 Business, finance and administration jobs
2 Natural and applied sciences and similar jobs
3 Health jobs
4 Occupations in community and government services, law and social and teaching
5 Jobs in art, culture recreation and sport
6 Sales and service jobs
7 Trades, transport and machine operators and similar occupations
8 Natural resources, agriculture and similar production jobs
9 Jobs in manufacturing and utilities


Second digit – NOC code

The second number refers to skill level – this is the amount and type of education or training needed for a job.

Skill levels range from A to D.

Skill Level Education Example
A University education Architects, dentists, doctors
B College diploma or apprenticeship training Chefs, plumbers, electricians
C Secondary school diploma or job-specific training Hospitality jobs, library assistant, long haul-truck drivers
D None required, on-job training is typically provided Cashier, fruit pickers, landscaping and grounds labourer


Third digit – NOC code

The first and the second digits are major groups.

The third digit divides these major groups further into minor groups, breaking down jobs into 140 categories.

Fourth digit – NOC code

Now to make jobs even more specific, the fourth digit presents 520 job groups, known as unit groups.

Here’s an example:
A receptionist’s NOC code is 1414.

  • 1 – business, finance and administration jobs
  • 14 – office support occupations
  • 141 – general office workers
  • 1414 – receptionist

The skill level required for this job is ‘C’, that being a secondary school diploma or job-specific training.

Now let’s move on to the 2021 version that will soon be in use.

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Changes from the 2016 to the 2021 version

  • ‘Skill Levels’ is now ‘Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER)’
  • There are six TEER categories instead four that were in Skill Levels
  • The NOC code is no longer a four digit code but a five digit code
  • From 500 occupations there are now 516 occupations or ‘unit groups’ in total

Here are the five digits in the NOC code for 2021 and what they represent:

  • First digit – occupations (broadly)
  • Second digit – TEER category
  • First two digits – major group
  • First three digits – sub-major group
  • All five digits – unit group/ the actual occupation

Let’s delve deeper into each.

Broad categories – first digit

The first number of the NOC code will still be known as ‘skill type’ which outlines the level of education or training needed to do a job efficiently.

The 2021 version still divides occupations in Canada into 10 broad skill types.

The only change is that skill type ‘0’ has changed from “management jobs” to “legislative and senior management occupations.”

TEER categories – second digit

The second number still refers to the amount and type of education or training needed for a job.

However, these are divided into six TEER categories ranging from 0 to 5.

This change aims to give you a clearer understanding of the differences between the education and training that’s required for the job:

TEER categories Education/Experience
0 Management jobs
1 University education – bachelor’s, masters or doctorate diploma OR Experience in a specific job from TEER category two for several years
2 Post-secondary education program diploma (two-three years at a CEGEP, community college or institute of technology) OR Two-five years of apprenticeship training OR Jobs which you supervise or are responsible for people’s safety – e.g. firefighters, police officers, etc. OR Experience in a specific job from TEER category three for several years
3 Post-secondary education program diploma (less than two years at a CEGEP, community college or institute of technology) OR Less than two years of apprenticeship training OR Partaking in on job-training, work experience or training courses for over six months (some high school education required) OR Experience in a specific job from TEER category four for several years
4 High school diploma OR On-job training for a couple of weeks (some high school education required) OR Experience in a specific job from TEER category five for several years
5 No education required; on-job training is typically provided


Major groups

Just like in the 2016 version of the NOC code, the first and second digits together are known as the major group.

There are 45 major groups in the 2021 version.

Sub-major groups

The first to the third digit are further grouped together – what is known as the sub-major groups.

There are 89 sub-major groups.

Minor groups

The fourth digit of the NOC code is known as the minor group.

This group refers to job sectors.

The minor group has 162 groups.

Unit groups

The five digits together represent the unit group or the actual job.

There are 516 unit groups.

Here’s an example:
A chef’s NOC code for 2021 is 62200:

  • 6 – sales and service jobs
  • 62 – retail sales and service supervisors and specialized occupations in sales and services
  • 622 – specialized services occupations
  • 6220 – specialized occupations in services
  • 62200 – chefs

Chefs require ‘TEER 2’ so post-secondary education (two-three years at a CEGEP, community college or institute of technology), two-five years of apprenticeship training or supervisory jobs.

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Finding your NOC code

To find your NOC code, you’ll need to visit Canada’s government website and search the NOC matrix.

Remember: you’ll need to select the 2016 version for now and after mid-2022 you can select the 2021 version.

If you already know your NOC code you can search by entering your code.

However, if you don’t know your code you can search by entering your job title.

Once you search for your job, either with the code or job title you can select the code that appears in the ‘unit group.’

This will bring you more information about the job, such as:

  • Job titles
  • Main duties
  • Employment requirements
  • Exclusions
  • And more!

By searching in the NOC matrix, you’ll not only be able to find your NOC code and information about your job but this is also a great way to check if your previous job matches the outlined main duties. It’s very important that they do!

My job matches more than one NOC code

In this instance, you’ll need to pick between the two codes based on which one describes your job the best.

It’s important to have an accurate NOC code as the officer that reviews your application is well informed on the NOC matrix and your application can be refused if they feel that your job matches another code better.

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Do I need to provide evidence for the NOC code?

Yes, you do! – You’ll need to provide reference letters from previous employers.

Here’s what it’ll need to include.

About you

  • Your name
  • Your job title
  • Your duties in the job (should match the ones outlined by the NOC)
  • Start and end dates of your employment
  • Average hours you worked per week
  • Your salary

About the company

  • Employer’s name
  • Signature by either your manager, head of the department, HR employee or someone on the management team
  • Also, the person who signed it needs to include their name and job title under the signature
  • If applicable, include the business card of the signatory
  • Company’s contact information

Do all the job duties outlined in the NOC code have to match the ones on my reference letter?

Fortunately, no. Not every single job duty outlined by your NOC code has to match the duties in your reference better.

More specifically, as long as 75% of the duties listed in the NOC description match the job duties on your reference letter then it’s the correct one for you!

What if I submit my application with the wrong NOC code?

Selecting the wrong NOC code for your application can happen. In this case, you can ask for a new NOC code to be considered.

It’s important that you try and make this change as soon as possible.

Now you can see the importance of knowing your NOC code and how it’s used!

We know that travelling to Canada can require you to know a lot of information, but hopefully, this article brought you one step closer to understanding their system!

Do you need more information before moving to Canada?

Working Holiday in Canada can help you out!

You can find a host of more information on our website.

Whether you’re looking for information on:

  • Taxes
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Banking in Canada
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We’ve got you covered!

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