Job Categories (NOC)

Working as a bank teller won’t help you get permanent resident status through most immigration programs, but working as a secretary will. Working as a waiter isn’t very useful for immigration, but working as a cook is.

Most international students become permanent residents through an immigration program connected to their work. Understanding how your job fits your immigration plans is important!

Employment counts for immigration programs in two ways:

  • Qualifying work experience
  • Qualifying job offer

Many immigration programs only count work that is managerial, professional or skilled. Others only count work done in specific industries. All of that is determined and defined by the National Occupational Classification system (NOC).

There are two aspects of NOC that are important: how it defines jobs and how it ranks jobs.

This is the NOC program page for secretaries and administrative assistants.

Job Definitions

Job titles are much less important than job duties.

Let’s use Anne as an example. She works as a receptionist in a doctor’s office. She greets patients they come in, answers the phone, books new appointments, registers payments, orders office supplies, organizes patient files and keeps the doctor’s appointment calendar. Anne’s job title is receptionist, but her job duties under NOC are actually that of a secretary. That’s a good thing for Anne, because she qualifies for many immigration programs if she has experience as a secretary, but very few if she has experience as a receptionist.

To identify a job correctly, look at the “main duties” and “employment requirements” sections of the job page in the NOC website. Most real jobs don’t fit neatly into one category. Find the category that fits best, then record the four-digit code for that job. For example, NOC classifies receptionists as 1414, but secretaries as 1214.

Once you have the code for a job, you can look up its rank.

Receptionist is NOC code 1414, NOC C

Job Rankings

NOC ranks jobs in two ways, by industry and by skill level.

There are nine industries. The first letter of each job code represents an industry, from business (1) to manufacturing (9).

NOC classifies jobs into five skill levels:

O managerial

A professional

B technical or skilled

C intermediate-level

D labour

The ranks are not intuitive. For example, many would expect the job of bank teller to be ranked as skilled work. However NOC classifies the job of bank teller as C, the same way it ranks a store clerk.

The letter designation (O,A,B,C,D) of a job is the most important thing you need to know. Unfortunately, the designation doesn’t appear on the job page in the NOC website! You have to look it up on the NOC matrix.

The NOC matrix lists industries in columns and skill levels (O,A,B,C,D) in rows. Each cell lists the first three letters of a job code. Every job with those three numbers is included in the ranking for that cell.

Looking at the matrix, you can see that the job of receptionist (1414) is included under 141 General office workers (NOC C0), while the job of secretary (1241) is included under 124 Office administrative assistants – general, legal and medical (NOC B)

Secretary is NOC 1241, NOC B.

The Canadian government offers a tool to look up NOC codes:

You can find the NOC matrix here:

Here is a small sample of jobs that fall into either NOC O, A, or B or NOC C and D.

Accountants Appliance installers
Administrative Assistants Bank teller
Artists Bartender
Athletes Call centre operators
Carpenters Cashier
Computer programmers Cleaners
Construction supervisors Customer service representative
Cook Dishwasher
Court reporters Drivers
Day care workers Fish plant worker
Dental hygienists Fishboat crew
Engineers Fruit picker
Fire fighters Heavy equipment operators
Inspectors Home care services
Lawyers Kitchen helpers
Librarians Laborers
Mechanics Landscaping labourer
Miner Loggers
Nurses Mail room sorter
Pharmacists Manufacturing assembly
Plumbers Printshop operators
Real estate agents Private security guard
Restaurant managers Receptionist
Scientists Sales person
Teachers Store clerk
Welders Waiter

Most of the major immigration programs in Canada, including all of the Express Entry programs, require managerial or skilled work experience or job offers (NOC O, A or B). However, a few provincial programs recruit workers for less skilled (NOC C and D) jobs. Here is a small sample of provincial programs open to applicants with NOC C and D work experience or job offers.

  • New Brunswick Skilled Worker with Employer Support
  • New Brunswick Skilled Worker Family Supported
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Skilled Worker
  • Newfoundland and Labrador International Graduate
  • Nova Scotia Skilled Worker (not NOC D)
  • Prince Edward Island Critical Worker
  • British Columbia Provincial Nominee Entry Level and Semi-Skilled
  • Alberta Skilled Worker International Graduate (not NOC D)
  • Alberta Semi-Skilled Worker Category
  • Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project Intermediate-Skilled (not NOC D)
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