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An Overview of Canada's National Occupational Classification

The NOC is a system used by the Government of Canada to classify jobs (occupations).

Originally posted on May 30, 2015; updated July 2, 2016

An Overview of Canada's National Occupational Classification

Our firm receives at least 20 inquiries a day solely for Canada immigration, most centering around the concern "What is the first step to immigrate to Canada?"  And our answer has always been the same all these years: check your credentials first to determine your eligibility.

There are several pathways that you may qualify for but in the main, you may applying under any of the following:

  • As a Federal Skilled Worker;
  • Under the Federal Skilled Trades Program;
  • Under the Canadian Experience Class;
  • Provincial Nominee.

Have you had an initial assessment made on your credentials or want to seek a second opinion on an evaluation?  If either of these situations apply to you, try checking the classification of your profession and see how it ranks in Canada's National Occupational Classification or NOC.

The NOC is important because many immigration programs use the NOC to decide if a profession or type of work experience is valid for that program.  Jobs are grouped based on the type of work typical for a job or profession and the types of job duties.  So for immigration purposes, the groups are:

  • Skill Type 0 (zero) – management jobs.  Examples: restaurant managers, IT managers, finance managers
  • Skill Level A — professional jobs. People usually need a degree from a university for these jobs.   Examples: doctors, dentists, architects
  • Skill Level B — technical jobs and skilled trades. People usually need a college diploma or to train as an apprentice to do these jobs. Examples: chefs, electricians, plumbers
  • Skill Level C — intermediate jobs. These jobs usually need high school and/or job-specific training.  Examples of jobs with this skille level are long-haul truck drivers, butchers, food and beverage servers
  • Skill Level D — labour jobs. On-the-job training is usually given.  Examples: cleaning staff, oil field workers, fruit pickers

If your current and job or profession is listed as skill type O, or level A or B, you might qualify to apply for any of the following:

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

If your job is classified as skill level C or D in the NOC, you might qualify to apply as a provincial nominee as long as it is not in a program for skilled workers or you may be able to work in Canada for up to two years.

Other important information.

  • Work Experience is one of the selection factors considered if you want to qualify to submit an application to the Express Entry System.  You must have a minimum of one year of full-time work in your primary occupation. 
  • Even if you studied or worked in Canada, your job must be classified as skill type 0, or skill level A or B to be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class.
  • Full-time work for purposes of immigrating to Canada means at least 30 hours of paid work per week.  One year of full-time work is at least 1560 hours.
  • You must have at least 12 months of full-time, or an equal amount in part-time, skilled work experience to obtain points to apply for skilled immigration under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or Federal Skilled Trades Program.
  • Your primary occupation is the job or profession you have had experience in within the last five years.  It is also the profession you intend to nominate or base your immigration application on IF you will be invited to apply for immigration.
  • The more work experience you have, the higher your immigration points for that immigration factor.

Are you submitting an application anytime soon?  Remember, completing an Express Entry profile is only a first step and does not guarantee that you will receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residency. 

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