About the NOC 2016

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The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is the national reference on occupations in Canada providing a standard taxonomy for dialogue on the world of work and a Canadian framework for collecting, analyzing and disseminating occupational data for labour market information and employment-related program administration. It comprises more than 30,000 occupational titles gathered into 500 Unit Groups, organized according to 4 skill levels and 10 skill types. Unit Groups are based on similarity of skills, defined primarily by functions and employment requirements. Each Unit Group describes main duties and employment requirements as well as providing examples of occupational titles.

In addition to serving as the authoritative platform and structure for statistics and the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative data, it is used daily by students, workers, employers, career and vocational counsellors, educational and training organizations to support career and vocational decisions. It is also used to support policy development and program design and administration as well as service delivery.

The NOC is updated in partnership with Statistics Canada. The NOC 2016 focused on the contents of individual Unit Groups, without affecting the structure of the classification. Updates to the content of the NOC 2016 will continue on a regular basis. The next major structural revision is planned for the NOC 2021.

The NOC 2016 Revision


Research and analysis of occupations, skills and competencies for the NOC have been ongoing since its introduction in the early 1990s.

Sources of research include other classifications, employment services and job advertisements, job and career descriptions, educational and training material, regulations and professional associations’ material, government, business and labour organizations’ input, public and private sector feedback, employment program material and issues identified by Statistics Canada through coding surveys.

Some consultation inputs propose changes at a structural level. However, structural changes such as modifying the conceptual boundaries of occupational groups, moving occupations to different groups or changing the hierarchical classification structure, are considered only every ten years to allow users to compare data over broader time spans. The ability to make comparisons and identify trends would be hindered by more frequent changes to the classification structure.

Accordingly, updating the NOC 2016 was restricted to content changes such as adding new occupational titles to existing groups, validating and modifying content in Unit Group descriptions, and correcting and enhancing concordances between the English and French versions.

Research analysts were assigned occupational areas according to the 10 NOC broad occupational categories or skill types. They gathered information from sources such as the NOC Inbox, labour market analyses, sector councils, immigration specialists, workers, employers, counsellors, professional organizations and data from Internet research and interviews with key occupational specialists. Employment requirements of regulated professions and trades, Essential Skills research, the Census of Canada and the Labour Force Survey were also consulted.

For many occupations, evidence from the NOC research validation processes indicated overall a general satisfaction with the content of Unit Groups and their placement within the overall classification structure. For others, information in Main Duties and Employment Requirements sections were updated.

Approval Procedures

Once data and information have been collected, findings are analyzed and analysts prepare revision reports. These documents are then submitted to an internal ESDC review committee for discussion and approval.

The proposed revisions are then sent to Statistics Canada for review and assessment of concerns related to coding consistency and statistical considerations. The joint working committee of classification experts from the two departments then discusses and resolves any outstanding issues to reach consensus on changes for the NOC.

Learn More


The NOC organizes the world of work in a standardized and structured format. For a better understanding of the changes made to the NOC 2016 and to learn more about the organizational structure of the NOC 2016 and its classification principles and criteria, please refer to the Introduction.