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Using the NOC to understand labour needs in Canada
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) tool can help you identify in-demand jobs

One important tool to immigrate to Canada is the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Code. This is the government’s system to describe occupations in Canada. It is basically a classification system for each job in the marketplace with a unique identification code. The NOC can help you to identify the most in-demand sectors, understand the job market, and fast-track your job prospects.

As well, when used strategically the NOC is a powerful tool to help you:

  • settle into paid employment soon after arriving in Canada
  • target the most in- demand jobs when job searching, and
  • enhance job security and stability in Canada in the long run.

For a tool this important, it is amazing how many people don’t use it effectively. In essence, what would immigrating to Canada be like if you could target the sectors where there are actual skill shortages? 

For many immigrants, Canada represents a dream. They don’t see it as just a country,  to them it is the picture of a better life, and the data backs it up. According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada welcomed 184,000 new immigrants in 2020 alone. That’s a significant number when you consider that the majority of travel was halted due to COVID-19.

Immigrants are drawn to Canada for many reasons, and if you’re seeking a higher quality of life and access to job opportunities, understanding the Canadian labour market is vital. Using the NOC is a helpful tool to help you along your immigration journey.

Understanding NOC Categories

The NOC is used to classify applicants under 10 different  Broad Occupational Categories (BOC) dependent on skill types. A four-digit code identifies each occupation, otherwise called a unit group.  The numbers 0 – 9 represent the first of four digits in the NOC code Canada. Using the outline below, you can identify your BOC and learn more here.

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

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Each skill type has a corresponding skill level to indicate the amount of training, or experience the individual has.

For example: NOC Code 00

The first digit represents the skill type: Management occupation

The second digit represents the management level: Senior Management.

Individuals can move from one skill level to another and possibly target available vacancies, either through additional training or further education. Click here to find your skill level.

Labour Needs in Canada
Photo Credit – NOC Website –

Applying for Permanent Residence through Express Entry?

If you’re applying for Express Entry, you must be ranked in the Skill Type 0, levels A or B. This applies to the following Express Entry programs:

Applicants looking at the Atlantic Immigration Pilot as a skilled immigrant will be under the Skill Type/level 0, A, B or C.

Applicants on Skill type C or D can target the Provincial Nominee Program, or other shorter-term immigration routes even though you might not become a permanent resident immediately, it provides a route for you to eventually be.

Each NOC has unique advantages. You do not have to be at the highest NOC level to successfully gain an advantage. For example, there are provinces that only target people in certain NOC code Canada classes. The province of Nova Scotia, for instance, targets applicants based on its occupation in demand list, in 2021, one requirement was for applicants with NOC 3143 (Nurses and Patient Service Associates) and NOC 7511 (Transport Truck Drivers).

How to Find Your NOC

Identifying your NOC is a simple process, You can click here to find your NOC and use your current job title in the filter items box.

Alternatively, you can find it by visiting the NOC page directly here. You can either search using a code or by using your job title in the search box. Please note that your job duties must match the ones that you currently do, especially in cases where your occupation is called something different in Canada. When you find your occupation, write down your NOC code

If you can’t find your NOC, you can use the NOC website to search for the closest options on the list with duties that match yours. Then note down the codes and the applicable skill level.

Applicants are allowed to change NOC codes in the application process although the IRCC warns that it may jeopardize the application in cases where the switch is from skilled to unskilled work. However, changing codes in related fields can help an individual fast track their application especially in cases where the new switch meets a skill demand gap in the Canadian job market.

The Canadian government wishes to accept 400,000 immigrants in 2021/2022, most of the opportunities will go to those applying to areas where there is a shortage. Some of the most in-demand jobs in Canada include:

Registered Nurses – NOC 3012

Business Analysts –  NOC 2171

Transport Truck Driver – NOC 7511

Software Engineers and Designers – NOC 2173

Retail Sales Supervisors – NOC 6211

What’s Next?

After you find your NOC, you can apply to the immigration program that you are eligible for. And, using the NOC can be your biggest asset. When used correctly it can help you to work in Canada faster.

For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our finding a job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!