FAQNational Occupational ClassificationNOC

How to Choose Your NOC Code for Canadian Immigration

Published on: March 7th, 2017
Last updated: December 13th, 2021

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) system assigns a four digit code and job description for every occupation is the Canadian labour market. It’s a nationally recognized and standardized system that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses to evaluate your work experience.

Free Assessment


A NOC code is a unique four digit code assigned to each occupation in the Canadian labour market.

When You Need It:

You need to claim a NOC code before you can submit any economic immigration application.

How to Choose a NOC Code

Choosing the right National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is one of the most important parts of your immigration application. Whether you’re applying through the federal Express Entry system, or to one of many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), choosing the right NOC code can make or break your application.

If you claim a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your work experience, your application will be refused or returned to you. You can’t expect the visa officer that’s reviewing your application to ask you for clarification, or to choose the right NOC code. It’s up to you to make sure that your NOC code matches your work experience, and that you have documentation to prove it.

Every NOC code has an associated job title, lead statement, and list of major duties and responsibilities. When you’re choosing your NOC code for immigration purposes, your actual job title and education are not important. Your work experience has to match the lead statement, and you should have performed most of the duties and responsibilities listed. Because of that, your work experience might fall under a couple of different NOC codes, or your official job title might be associated with a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your experience.

If you have experience working in a couple of different industries or positions, each of your past work experiences has its own NOC code. For immigration purposes, you generally have to claim a primary NOC code as well as NOC codes for each of your past positions. Depending on the program you’re applying to, the NOC code that you should claim as your primary one might change.

This can make choosing the right NOC code complicated. An immigration attorney can help you find the right NOC code: one that matches your work experience and optimizes your chances of successfully applying to immigrate to Canada.

How Can I Prove This is My NOC Code?

To prove that you’ve claimed the right NOC code, you have to provide some supporting documentation in your application. The most important piece of documentation is your employment reference letter.

An employment reference letter for immigration is very different from a reference letter that you would use job hunting. It might be more helpful to think of it as an employment verification letter. It has to be provided by your employer and ideally includes:

  • your job title,
  • your salary,
  • the average hours you work per week,
  • the dates of your employment, and
  • a detailed list of your employment duties.


The detailed list of your employment duties is the most important part. It’s how the visa officer reviewing your case will tell if the NOC code you claimed matches your actual work experience. Since you need to get the reference letter from your employer, you should get started on this process as soon as possible.

You can also include other supporting documentation to help prove you’ve claimed the right NOC code. For example, you can include any certification that your position requires, or paystubs or tax returns that prove your dates of employment and salary.

If you can’t get a reference letter from your employer, you might still be able to convince the visa officer that you’ve chosen the right NOC code. Provide as much supporting documentation as possible, and include a letter that explains why you can’t provide a reference letter. That said, not having a reference letter really weakens your application so you should do everything in your power to get one.

In the end, the decision is always up to the visa officer. Even if you provide a perfect reference letter and a lot of supporting documents, there’s still no guarantee that the visa officer will be convinced that your experience falls under the NOC you claimed. That’s why it’s so important to gather as much supporting documentation as possible.

Sometimes, immigration programs will require experience in a ‘high-skilled’ occupation, or an occupation classified as NOC 0, A, or B. The easiest way to tell whether your occupation is classified as NOC 0, A, or B is to check the NOC Matrix on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website.


However, NOC codes mostly follow a formula:


The first digit in a NOC code identifies the Skill Type. There are ten Skill Types (0 to 9) that refer to broad areas of work. For example, Skill Type 2 includes all ‘Natural and applied sciences and related occupations’.


The second digit in a NOC code identifies the Skill Level. There are four Skill Levels, and each one is associated with two digits: A (0 and 1), B (2 and 3), C (4 and 5), and D (6 and 7). The Skill Level refers to what kind of education and training is generally necessary for an occupation. For example, Skill Level A occupations usually require a university education.


The major exception to this formula is Skill Type 0 – Management occupations, because there are management occupations in every area of work. The first digit of every management occupation is 0, and the second digit refers to the Skill Type. For example, a NOC code starting with 03 refers to a management occupation in health.


When an immigration program requires experience in an occupation classified as Skill Level 0, A, or B, it means that either:

  1. The first digit must be 0, or
  2. The second digit must be between 0 and 3.

NOC Skill Levels

Unless the NOC code begins with 0, the second digit refers to the Skill Level of the occupation:



A 0 and 1 Occupations usually require university education
B 2 and 3 Occupations usually require college education or apprenticeship training
C 4 and 5 Occupations usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training
D 6 and 7 On-the-job training is usually provided for occupations


At Canadim, we are with you every step of the way. We don’t just prepare our client’s immigration file; we prepare our clients for their new life in Canada too!  Our free online assessment can help you discover all of your options to move to Canada permanently.

Free Assessment


The Canadim Team!

Recent articles


5 Ways to Stay in Canada After Your PGWP Expires

With FHS Express Entry draws paused indefinitely, many international graduates feel limited in their options to remain in Canada after their PGWP expires.

Study Permit

Do I Need a Study Permit to Study Online in Canada?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education across the globe; with online learning becoming the new norm, there has been some confusion surrounding whether a permit is required to study online in Canada.


Crimes That Will Make You Inadmissible to Canada

If you have a criminal record and are planning to come to Canada, it is important to understand the types of crimes that will make […]

Canada Permanent Residence

Easiest Ways to Immigrate to Canada in 2022

The easiest way to immigrate to Canada will depend on your own unique profile or connections to the country. With Canadian immigration targets higher than ever, now is […]

Canada Permanent Residence

Top Four Best Provinces in Canada for New Immigrants

A question we are often asked is, “What is the best province in Canada for immigrants?” With Canada being the second-largest country in the world, […]

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

4 Easiest Provinces to Get PR in Canada in 2022

As Federal Skilled Worker draws remain paused, provinces’ nominee programs have become the easiest way to secure PR in Canada. So which provinces make it […]

Study Permit

Can a Study Permit be Changed to a Work Permit in Canada?

Looking to change from a study permit to a work permit? The process will depend on where you are at in your program.

Canada Permanent Residence

Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR to PR) Pathway

As of May 6, 2021, essential workers and international graduates currently working in Canada can apply for Canadian permanent residency under favourable new Immigration programs.

Canada Work Permit

Canada Launches New Open Work Permit for Hong Kong Residents

Starting February 8th 2021, eligible Hong Kong residents can apply for a 3 year Canadian open work permit, designed to give highly educated Hong Kong residents the opportunity to gain valuable Canadian work experience.

Canada Permanent Residence

2021 Canadian Immigration Forecast

As 2020 draws to a close, we can confidently say that it’s been an impressive year in immigration, and things don’t look to be slowing […]

Canada Permanent Residence

Landing in Canada During COVID-19

In order to finish your application process for Canadian permanent residency, you need to land in Canada. As of June 21, 2021, applicants who have […]

Canada Permanent Residence

How to Immigrate to Canada From Nigeria

The number of Nigerians immigrating to Canada has tripled in the last five years. Nigeria is now one of the main source countries of Canada’s […]

Canada Permanent Residence

How to Immigrate to Canada From Lebanon

The Lebanese population in Canada is one of the fastest growing demographics. In 2001, there were nearly 144,000 Lebanese in Canada. According to the 2016 […]

Work in Canada

The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Job in Canada in 2022

Many foreign nationals look to Canada as a land of opportunity, hoping to secure a comfortable life for themselves and their families. One of the […]

International Students

COVID-19: A Guide for International Students in Canada

There’s no denying that right now is a difficult time to be an international student. With the interruption of classes, student residencies shutting down, an […]

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP): How to find a job offer

Canada’s Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) has been growing in strides since its introduction in 2017, and has quickly become a promising option for those […]

International Students

PNP Immigration Options for International Students in 2022

If you want to come study in Canada as an international student, you might be wondering which province you should study in. Are there benefits to […]

Living in Canada

Best Places to Relocate in Canada From the US

Considering making the move across the border from the U.S. to Canada? You’re not alone. In 2019, more than 10,000 U.S. residents made the move […]

International Students

Studying in Canada vs the USA: Six Big Reasons to Choose Canada

Speedy processing times for study permits, top-quality educational institutions, and an open and welcoming society are just some of the factors that influence international students […]

International Students | Study Permit

5 Reasons Canadian Study Permit Applications Get Refused

Studying in Canada is a dream come true for many international students. When you receive a letter of acceptance from a Canadian school, it might […]

Family Sponsorship | International Students

How to Bring Your Family With You While Studying in Canada

There are a lot of great benefits to being an international student in Canada, including the ability to bring family with you while you study.  […]

Free assessment

Discover your Canadian immigration options. Get your free assessment now!