Frequently asked questions

About the National Occupational Classification

Who uses the National Occupational Classification?

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a system for describing the occupations of Canadians. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a standardized way of describing and understanding the nature of work. Each group uses the NOC for various reasons:

  • Economists and statisticians, to guide the collection and compilation of data.
  • Labour market researchers, to understand the underpinnings of the statistics they use.
  • Government analysts, to guide policy decisions, to develop systems for training, for recruiting and job matching, to allocate spending for labour market programs, and for immigration selection procedures.
  • Educational counsellors and students, for career planning and exploration purposes.
  • Job seekers, employment counsellors, and employers, to make effective use of labour market information services.

Who manages the National Occupational Classification?

The NOC 2021 is published through a partnership between Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada. The collaborative partnership between ESDC and Statistics Canada has ensured that quantitative and qualitative information on occupations continues to be reliable, timely, and relevant for a wide range of audiences.

How can I learn more about the National Occupational Classification?

A National Occupational Classification tutorial is available online for individuals who wish to develop an understanding of the classification system. This tutorial is self-directed and allows individuals to study specific parts of the NOC.

You can access the tutorial by navigating to the tutorial home page.

About the National Occupational Classification’s unit group

How can I find my National Occupational Classification code?

If you are unsure of which National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is associated with your job, you can first try to search by job title.

To conduct a search by job title, go to the NOC home page; select the “Search by job title” tab in the search box and type in your job title. The results will return a list of NOC unit groups associated with the job title you have entered. If there are no results, please try again using other related job titles.

Once you have one or more NOC code(s) in your search results, you can click on any of them to look at its occupational description. Review the main duties and employment requirements within the occupational description to determine if these correspond to those associated with your occupation. Other information found in the occupational description, such as examples of job titles, additional information, and exclusions may also help. If the occupational description does not correspond to your job, consult a different one.

If you cannot find the NOC unit group associated with your occupation using the title job search, you access the NOC matrix via the Hierarchy and structure section to narrow down your research.

To do so, you will need to know which sector of activity your occupation is associated to (health, natural sciences, trades, or transportation for instance). That will allow you to limit your search to NOC unit groups found under one broad occupational category, which is represented by the first digit of the NOC code and displayed as rows in the NOC matrix. Then, further reduce the scope of your search based on the education level usually required to be employed in your job. Do people usually require a university degree, apprenticeship training, or on-the-job training? The Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) category corresponds to the second digit of the NOC code. Please note that this may differ from your personal levels of formal training and education.

Once you have identified both the broad occupational category and the TEER category associated with your job, you will be able to identify a short list of relevant NOC sub-major groups (represented by the first three digits of the NOC code).

Keeping those sub-major groups in mind, go to the Hierarchy and structure section and drilldown the structure to list all minor groups and unit groups found under the relevant sub-major groups. You can then access the occupational description of each unit group to find where your occupation has been classified.

Why can’t I find my job title in the National Occupational Classification?

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) contains about 40,000 job titles in each of Canada’s official languages. While the listing in the Index is not meant to be exhaustive, it does provide extensive coverage of commonly used and understood titles in the economy and of more specific titles found in many occupational areas.

The list is updated on an ongoing basis to add emerging job titles and remove obsolete ones. Still, many job titles used everyday in the labour market are not included in the list of job titles found in the NOC. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The job title is very specific and not used often enough to be added to the list. Instead, a more generic job title, which encompasses these very specific job titles, is used.

    For instance, in unit group 41200 – University professors and lecturers, there are currently over 100 different job titles. Yet, many existing job titles are not included because they are too specific and they can be linked to a more generic one. This is the case for the job title “biology professor – university” which is used in the NOC to capture all job titles associated with distinct biology teachers such as all microbiology teachers and their subspecialties (molecular virology, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, etc.).

  • The job title is fairly recent and more analysis is required before including it in the list of job titles.

Why is my occupation combined with other occupations?

One of the objectives of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) is to provide a system to describe and organize occupations in Canada for data collection and data analysis purposes. As such, when the NOC was first developed and during each revision since then, several factors were taken into account to define each unit group found within the NOC. A given unit group may represent one or more occupations according to the following criteria:

  • Broad occupational category, or sector of activity;
  • TEER category; and
  • Main duties

Basically, occupations in the same broad occupational category and TEER category that have very similar duties and employment requirements will tend to be combined together. This is notably the case for all university professors and lecturers (associated with NOC code 41200) and general practitioners and family physicians (associated with NOC code 31102).

In some instances however, even after combining several occupations together, the number of workers in a unit group is still too low. As a result, occupations found under the same broad occupational category and TEER category but with different duties and/or different employment requirements, such as air pilots, flight engineers, and flying instructors (associated with NOC code 72600) can be combined together into one unit group.

About concepts associated with the National Occupational Classification

What is the difference between an occupation and a unit group?

An occupation is defined as a set of jobs that are sufficiently similar in work performed. A job corresponds to all the tasks carried out by a particular worker to complete his or her duties. For instance, dentist is an occupation which encompasses different job titles which carry out very similar tasks such as dental surgeon, dentist, general practice dentist, and orthodontist.

A unit group, as defined in the National Occupational Classification, can represent a given occupation (such as dentist – NOC code 31110) or a set of different occupations falling in the same broad occupational category and TEER category and with very similar duties and employment requirements. For instance, unit group 21399 – Other professional engineers regroups several occupations such as agricultural engineer, marine engineer, and textile engineer under the same unit group.

Finally, in very few cases, a NOC unit group can combine occupations presenting somewhat different duties and/or employment requirements, such as for unit group 72600 – Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors.

What are broad occupational categories and TEER categories?

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) classifies occupations using two main criteria: broad occupational category and TEER category.

The first digit of the NOC code identifies the broad occupational category of an occupation. This corresponds to the type of work performed, or the educational area of study required. For example, the NOC code of occupations associated with the health sector begin with a three (3).

TEER categories are used to represent the kind and/or amount of training, education, experience and responsibility required for entering an occupation and is represented by the second digit of the NOC code as can be seen in the NOC matrix. TEER categories take the values zero (0) to five (5).

Please see the first step of the NOC tutorial for more information about the broad occupational categories and/or TEER categories.

How are employment requirements defined?

Employment requirements represent prerequisites generally requested by employers and/or professional associations to enter a given occupation. Several types of requirements are listed:

  • type and level of education including specific subject matter if relevant, starting with the lowest possible requirement for entry into the occupation;
  • specific training required, including apprenticeship, on-the-job, or internal training;
  • experience in a related occupation, especially for supervisory or managerial occupations, or experience in a related occupation from a different TEER category;
  • responsibilities associated with certain functions of the occupation; and/or
  • licences, certificates, or affiliations.

While some occupations have very specific employment requirements, others have a wide range of acceptable requirements. The following terminology is used to indicate the level of the requirement:

  • "Is required" indicates a definite requirement.
  • "Is usually required" means that the qualification is generally expressed as required by a majority of employers, but is not always mandatory.
  • "May be required" describes requirements that some employers may impose, but are not universal.

Qualities related to personal suitability that may have an impact on employability are not described in the classification. These factors are subjective and determined by employers and are assessed during the hiring process.

Why are some of my main duties not listed in the National Occupational Classification?

The main duties section describes the most significant duties of the occupations in the group. They do not intend to be comprehensive of all the tasks performed in the occupation. They represent key duties that are related to the occupation(s) associated with the unit group and can be listed using:

  • a series of statements that can be applied to all occupations in the group;
  • two or more sub-sets of occupations with statements that apply to each sub-set or component; and/or
  • a series of brief statements that are linked to specific occupations, that, while similar enough to be in the same group, can be described separately.

About updates to the National Occupational Classification

How can I propose changes to the National Occupational Classification?

Every now and then, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), in partnership with Statistics Canada, launches an online consultation process to gather comments on the structure, composition, and content of the National Occupational Classification.

Changes to the content of the NOC (addition of job titles or main duties, for instance) take place on an annual basis. Changes which may affect the structure of the NOC take place every ten years with the next one planned for 2031. You can consult the information associated with the consultation process to learn more.

What changes were introduced with the 2016 version of the National Occupational Classification?

The 2016 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) updated the content of the occupational descriptions and added over 200 job titles while maintaining the structure of the 2011 edition. No major groups, minor groups, or unit groups have been added, deleted, or combined, though some groups have modified labels and/or updated content. Many new job titles have been added to NOC 2016, which arise as the division of labour in Canadian society evolves, creating new jobs and new specializations and as technological change brings with it new terminology. To clarify the boundaries between occupations, a few titles have been re-assigned to (a) different unit group(s) in the 2016 version of the NOC. The impact of these on the comparability of data between 2011 and 2016 are negligible.

More details about the 2016 version of the NOC are available in the NOC versions section of the website.

What changes were introduced with the 2021 version of the National Occupational Classification?

The 2021 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) introduced substantial modifications to the structure of the classification. The NOC moved from a 4-digit codification system to a 5-digit system. There is now a sub-major group between the major group and the minor group. The 2021 version of the NOC is structured across ten vertical broad occupational categories and six horizontal TEER categories. Similarly to previous major modifications, many new job titles and unit groups were added to the classification, and contents were updated in the majority of unit groups.

See the About the NOC section for more information about the NOC 2021 version and its new concepts and conventions.

What are the different hierarchical levels in the NOC 2021?

The NOC 2021 contains five hierarchical levels, which create the following categories and groups.

Broad occupational categories

The broad occupational category (first digit) of the classification represents the occupational categorization, which is defined by the type of work performed, the field of study, or the industry of employment. There are 10 broad occupational categories in NOC 2021 Version 1.0.

TEER categories

The TEER category (second digit) of the classification represents the necessary training, education, experience, and responsibilities of the occupation. There are 6 TEER categories in NOC 2021 Version 1.0.

Major groups

The major group (first and second digits) of the classification is represented by the broad occupational categories (first digit) and TEER categories (second digit) together. A major group also encompasses several sub-major groups and thus represents the two-digit code used by the NOC. There are 45 major groups in NOC 2021 Version 1.0.

Sub-major groups

The sub-major group (3-digit) of the classification represents the aggregation of several minor groups and thus represents the three-digit code used by the NOC. There are 89 sub-major groups in NOC 2021 Version 1.0.

Minor groups

The minor group (4-digit) of the classification represents the domain in which an occupation is carried out (occupational domain). It is an aggregation of several unit groups and thus represents the four-digit code used by the NOC. There are 162 minor groups in NOC 2021 Version 1.0.

Unit groups

The unit group (5-digit) of the classification is the most detailed level of the classification and represents one or several occupations combined together within the NOC. There are 516 units groups in NOC 2021 Version 1.0.

Overall, the net changes in the NOC 2021 version 1.0 relative to the NOC 2016 Version 1.3 can be summarized as follows:

Level NOC 2021 V1.0 NOC 2016 V1.3 Net changes
Broad occupational category 10 10 0
Major group 45 40 +5
Sub-major group 89* N/A +89
Minor group 162 140 +22
Unit group 516 500 +16
* New to the NOC structure in 2021.

Where can I find information associated with previous versions of the National Occupational Classification?

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is updated on a regular basis. Information regarding the changes associated with the current and previous versions of the NOC as well as concordance tables between those different versions can be found in the NOC versions section of the website.

If you wish to access the NOC structure or matrix of a previous version of the NOC, you can access it from the Hierarchy and structure section. Once on this page, you can select the relevant NOC version.

You can also search for job titles found in a previous version of the NOC by selecting the NOC version prior to conducting your search on the NOC home page

Other frequently asked questions

How can I integrate information from the National Occupational Classification into applications or programs?

Individuals or organizations interested in integrating National Occupational Classification (NOC) information directly into their Internet-enabled applications can ask for the creation of a NOC API account. Via this service, they will be able to download the NOC program’s codes directly into their applications.

The NOC API enables individuals and organizations to:

  • Improve timely access to relevant occupational and skill information;
  • Ensure accuracy and consistency of information in their products and services;
  • Seamlessly integrate occupational information into websites under their own look and feel; and
  • Save money on costs related to application development, database uploading, and maintenance.

To request a NOC API account, please contact us and enter: “API account creation” in the subject line.

How can I find jobs related to my National Occupational Classification code?

Job Bank’s website provides a lot of information to help job seekers find a job related to their occupation as identified in the National Occupational Classification. Job seekers can notably:

  • Browse through thousands of job postings using the Job Bank website or mobile application and;
  • Get job alerts as new jobs matching their interests are posted.

Access the Job Bank website to find jobs related to your NOC code.

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