Introduction to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 Version 1.0

Preface

The publication of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 is the thirtieth anniversary of the standard occupational classification system and it introduces a major structural change. The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 overhauls the "Skill Level" structure by introducing a new categorization representing the degree of Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) required for an occupation. The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 also introduces a new 5-digit hierarchical structure, compared to a 4-digit hierarchical structure in the previous versions of the classification. This revision is extensive; the last structural revision was NOC 2011.

Acknowledgements

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 is published, in partnership by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada (StatCan). The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 has been made possible through the significant contributions of a number of individuals and groups, including a team of occupational research analysts and assistants from both ESDC and StatCan. Their commitment to excellence is evident in this new version of the NOC’s foundational system used for structuring and describing occupations in the Canadian labour market and for managing the collection, analysis and reporting of occupational statistics. The partnership and collaboration between ESDC and StatCan has ensured that quantitative and qualitative information on occupations continues to be reliable, timely and relevant for a wide range of audiences.

Introduction

Purpose of the classification

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) Canada is a classification of occupations designed primarily for use in statistical programs. It is also used for employment-related program administration and to compile, analyze and communicate information about occupations, such as labour market information. Occupational information is of critical importance for the provision of labour market and career intelligence, occupational forecasting, labour supply and demand analysis, employment equity, job training and skills development, and numerous other programs and services. It provides a standardized framework for organizing the world of work, for pay or profit, in a manageable, understandable and coherent system.

Statistical classifications are comprehensive structured lists of mutually exclusive categories or classification itemsFootnote 1. In practice, this means that there is always a category in the classification for an object that falls within the scope of the classification, and that the object can be classified in only one category. The section titled "The underlying concepts" further discusses the object and scope of NOC.

The structure of the NOC is hierarchical. This type of classification system enables the collection, analysis and publication of data at different levels of detail, in a standardized way. The section titled "The classification structure and coding system" discusses the structure of the NOC in greater detail.

The purpose of standard classifications is to support the integration of data obtained from multiple sources by organizing the documentation, collection, processing, presentation and analysis of data in a systematic manner. Classifications are essential elements of a coherent and efficient statistical system.

The NOC has been developed to support the integration of occupational statistics. The next section provides a background on the NOC, the potential impact of the redesign and a sense of the different applications of the classification.

Background

The NOC was jointly developed by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Statistics Canada (StatCan), and has been maintained in partnership since the first edition published in 1991/1992. Prior to 2011, ESDC NOC and StatCan NOC-S differed in their major group structures and, consequently, in their coding systems. However, the revised NOC 2011 eliminated the differences between the two former systems.

As the Canadian economy and society changes, it is common practice for classifications to be updated and revised as new industries, products, occupations and educational programs are introduced. NOC structural revisions are planned every 10 years and content was updated every 5 years to respond to labour market changes. Starting in 2017, the NOC 2016 has undergone content updates approximately every year to ensure users have the most up-to-date information. This publication of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 represents a major structural revision of the NOC based on its 10-year revision cycle.

Revising the NOC

The NOC 2016 structure and format are based on a four-tiered hierarchical arrangement of occupational groups with successive levels of disaggregation. It contains broad occupational categories, major, minor and unit groups. It is categorized based on two major attributes of jobs, the "Broad Occupational Category" and the "Skill Level", as classification criteria. The former was defined as the type of work performed, with respect to the educational discipline or field of study for entry into an occupation and the industry of employment (e.g. health occupations or sales and service occupations). The "Skill Level" categorization is primarily defined by the amount and type of education and training usually required to enter and perform the duties of an occupation, but also considers experience, complexity and responsibilities. See NOC 2016 Structure below.

NOC 2016 StructureFootnote 2

Meaning embedded in the coding system - first digit
Broad Occupational Category or the skill type criteria is… when the first digit is…
Management occupations 0
Business, finance and administration occupations 1
Natural and applied sciences and related occupations 2
Health occupations 3
Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services 4
Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport 5
Sales and service occupations 6
Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations 7
Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations 8
Occupations in manufacturing and utilities 9
Meaning embedded in the coding system - second digit
Skill Level category or the skill level criteria is… when the second digit is…
Skill Level A 0 or 1
Skill Level B 2 or 3
Skill Level C 4 or 5
Skill Level D 6 or 7

The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 was developed through ongoing discussions between ESDC and StatCan as well as consultations with stakeholders. During consultations leading toward the NOC 2021 revision, it was suggested to add a new "Level" to the NOC 2016 Skill level categorization, to clarify the distinction in formal training or education required among unit groups, especially in the current "Skill Level B", which has a wide range of formal training or educational requirements. Over time due to the changing world of work, the NOC 2016 "Skill Level B" became a disproportionately large group and thereby limited the ability to analyze distinctions amongst a large percentage of occupations.

Another observation during the revision process was the use of the "Skill Level" categorization in the NOC as possibly being misleading because training and education, which are the main building blocks of the NOC's "Skill Level" categorization, are not considered as "skills" in the labour market. With regards to skills, many countries and organizations are currently developing their own skills taxonomy (which include concepts such as numeracy and literacy). Therefore, it was deemed appropriate for the NOC to move away from the "Skill Level" categorization.

The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 represents a major structural revision whereby the existing occupational groups are reviewed alongside input collected from many relevant stakeholders through consultation. The main accomplishment of the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 was the overhaul of the “skill level” categorization by introducing a new categorization representing the degree of Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) required for an occupation.

The redesign of the NOC for 2021 moves away from the previous version of NOC with four "Skill Level" categories to an innovative six-grouping "TEER" categorization. This change is necessary for several reasons. First, the focus of the NOC is occupations and not skills and the "Skill Level" terminology is often misleading for many stakeholders. This change will reduce confusion. Second, some NOC users artificially create or infer a low- versus high-skill categorization. This redesign moves away from high/low skill categorization as the TEER more accurately captures differences in occupational requirements, which in turn will aid in the analysis of occupations.

The section titled "The classification structure and coding system" discusses the structure of the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 in greater detail.

These changes significantly improve how the NOC classification takes into account the distinctions in formal training and educational requirements and better reflects skill and knowledge development occurring through on-the-job experience. At the same time, it increases the homogeneity of the distribution of unit groups within the classification, and addresses concerns about the “Skill Level” categorization and the distribution of unit groups among them.

The transition from the "Skill Level" to the "TEER" categorization makes the distribution of occupations across the "TEER categories" more balanced. The change in the distribution of unit groups is summarized in the tables below.

Distribution of NOC Unit Groups by Skill Level / TEER

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Distribution of Unit Groups by Skill Level NOC 2021 V1.0 Distribution of Unit Groups by TEER
    TEER Category 0 9%
Skill Level A 28% TEER Category 1 19%
Skill Level B 42% TEER Category 2 31%
Skill Level C 24% TEER Category 3 13%
Skill Level D 6% TEER Category 4 18%
    TEER Category 5 9%

The NOC is the nationally accepted taxonomy and organizational framework of occupations in the Canadian labour market. It is important to note that the redesign of the NOC can have significant implications for several Surveys, such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and ESDC programs such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Employment Insurance program. This change may have significant impact on various programs throughout other federal departments, as well as provincial, territorial and municipal governments and many users of the NOC.

The NOC 2021 Version 1.0, as of August 10th, 2021, is now the departmental standard for data collection and dissemination for occupations at Statistics Canada. Implementation dates for each new classification version such as NOC 2021 Version 1.0 will vary based on when statistical surveys or programs, entities, organizations or individuals decide to use it.

The underlying concepts

Statistical classifications are built around three basic concepts: the object classified or statistical unit, the scope or universe of the classification, and the criteria used to group statistical units in standard categories or classification items.

The statistical unit

The basic principle of the NOC is the kind of work performed. The statistical unit or object being classified using the NOC is the concept of a “job”. A job encompasses all the tasks carried out by a particular person to complete their duties. A job title represents the name given to a job or a position. The term job is used in reference to employment or in self-employment.

An occupation is defined as a collection of jobs, sufficiently similar or identical in work or tasks performed to be grouped under a common label for classification purposes.

The scope of the classification

The scope of the NOC is all occupations and jobs in the Canadian labour market undertaken for pay or profit, including people who are self-employed.

The NOC is not designed to include work or tasks not undertaken for pay or profit, for example, voluntary work. However, a person may complete work not for pay or profit where the tasks completed may be described within some occupational groups.

The classification criteria

The classification criteria refers to the attribute(s) of the statistical unit used to create the most detailed categories of the classification and to group them into analytical aggregates. These attributes must be observable and verifiable in the context of a statistical operation, or it must be possible to derive the information as a set of observed characteristics.

The NOC is built through the application of two major attributes of jobs as classification criteria: broad occupational categories and TEER categories. There are ten broad occupational categories and six TEER categories.

  • The ten broad occupational categories are defined by the type of work performed based on the industry of employment and field of study required for entry into an occupation. Within the broad occupational categories factors such as the materials processed or used, the industrial processes and the equipment used, as well as the products made and services provided, have also been considered when combining jobs into occupations and occupations into groups.
  • The six TEER categories stand for the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities required for occupations. A TEER category is defined by the amount and type of training and education required to enter and perform the duties of an occupation. It also takes into consideration the experience required and the complexity of responsibilities involved in the work. Each TEER category reflects commonly accepted paths to employment in an occupation.

The next section “The classification structure and coding system” provides more detail on how these two criteria together create the classification structure.

The Classification structure and coding system

The NOC contains a standard classification structure and standard variants of that structure. The standard structure is intended for broad use, whereas each variant is designed to meet a specific user need. The NOC provides a systematic classification structure that categorizes the entire range of occupational activity in Canada. Its’ detailed occupations are identified and grouped primarily according to the work performed, as determined by the training, education, tasks, experiences, duties and responsibilities for an occupation.

The Standard NOC 2021 Version 1.0 classification structure

The standard classification structure uses a five-tiered hierarchical arrangement of occupational groups with successive levels of disaggregation and contains broad, major, sub-major, minor and unit groupings. The structure of the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 is based on two key occupational categorizations: Occupational categories and TEER categories, which are identified in the first two digits of the 5-digit code, as shown in the table below.

 
Title of Hierarchy Format Digit Represents:
Broad Category X First Digit – X Occupational categorization
Major Group XX Second Digit xX TEER categorization
Sub-major Group XXX xxX Top level of the Sub-Major Group
Minor Group XXXX xxXX Hierarchy within the Sub-Major Group
Unit Group XXXXX xxXXX Hierarchy within the Minor Group

Note: As the first digit identifies the Occupation and the second digit identifies the TEER, they are also referred to as the Major Group.

The hierarchical approach of the NOC ensures collection, dissemination and analysis of data at different levels of detail, in a standardized way. Each number or digit at each hierarchical level has a distinct meaning. Each hierarchical level of the classification is described below, from the most detailed to the most aggregated level.

Nomenclature and number of categories within each level of NOC 2021 Version 1.0

 
Level Coding Number of categories
Broad Category 1-digit and first digit of all codes 10
TEER Second-digit of all codes 6
Major Group 2-digit representing the broad category code and the TEER code 45
Sub-major Group 3-digit 89
Minor Group 4-digit 162
Unit Group 5-digit 516

Broad categories
The Broad 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 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 categorization (first digit) and TEER categorization (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.

Example of coding in NOC 2021 Version 1.0: Judges, lawyers and Quebec notaries

 
Level NOC 2021 V1.0 Code NOC 2021 V1.0 Title
Broad occupational group 4 Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
Major group 41 Professional occupations in law, education, social, community and government services
Sub-minor group 411 Professional occupations in law
Minor group 4110 Judges, lawyers and Quebec notaries
Unit Group 41100 Judges
Unit Group 41101 Lawyers and Quebec notaries

The Coding system of the NOC 2021 Version 1.0

As identified in the “Classification Criteria” the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 is built through the application of two major attributes of jobs as classification criteria: ten broad occupational categories (BOC) and six TEER categories.

NOC 2021 Version 1.0 Broad Occupational Categories
Broad Occupational Categories are defined as the type of work performed based on, notably, the field of study required for entry into an occupation and the industry of employment. The ten BOCs are classified from 0 to 9.

 
NOC 2021 V1.0 Broad Category - Occupation when the first digit is…
BOC 0 - Legislative and senior management occupations
This broad category comprises legislators and senior management occupations.
0
BOC 1 - Business, finance and administration occupations
This broad category comprises specialized middle management occupations in administrative services, financial and business services and communication (except broadcasting), as well as professional occupations in financial and business; administrative and financial supervisors and specialized administrative occupations; administrative occupations and transportation logistics occupations; and office and administrative support and supply chain logistics occupations.
1
BOC 2 - Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
This broad category comprises occupations in natural sciences (including basic and applied sciences and experimental development), engineering, architecture and information technology. These occupations cover specialized middle management occupations in engineering, architecture, science and information systems; professional occupations in natural sciences (basic and applied sciences and experimental development); and technical occupations related to natural sciences (including basic and applied sciences and experimental development).
2
BOC 3 - Health occupations
This broad category comprises specialized middle management occupations in health care, as well as occupations concerned with providing health care services directly to patients (professional and technical occupations in health) and occupations that provide support to health services.
3
BOC 4 - Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
This broad category comprises managers in public administration, in education and social and community services and in public protection services, as well as occupations concerned with teaching, law, counselling, conducting social science research, developing government policy, and administering government and other programs, and related support occupations.
4
BOC 5 - Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport
This broad category comprises specialized middle management occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport, as well as professional, technical, support and other occupations concerned with art and culture (including the performing arts, film and video, broadcasting, journalism, writing, creative design, libraries and museums), recreation and sports.
5
BOC 6 - Sales and service occupations
This broad category comprises middle management occupations in wholesale and retail trade, and customer services, as well as occupations concerned with wholesale and retail sales, and customer, personal and support service occupations related to a wide range of trade and service industries, such as accommodation and food services, travel, tourism and cleaning services.
6
BOC 7 - Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations
This broad category comprises middle management occupations in trades, transportation and equipment, as well as occupations such as technical trades and transportation officers and controllers; general trades; mail and message distribution, other transport equipment operators and related maintenance workers; and helpers and labourers and other transport drivers, operators and labourers.
7
BOC 8 - Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations
This broad category comprises middle management occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production, as well as occupations concerned with supervision and equipment operation in the natural resource-based sectors of mining, oil and gas production, forestry and logging, agriculture, horticulture and fishing. Harvesting, landscaping and natural resources labourers are also included. Most occupations in this category are industry specific and do not occur outside of the primary resources industries.
8
BOC 9 - Occupations in manufacturing and utilities
This broad category comprises middle management occupations in manufacturing and utilities, as well as occupations concerned with supervisory, production and labouring in manufacturing, processing and utilities.
9

The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 TEER Categories

The "TEER" categorization defines the requirements of the occupation by considering the type of training, education and experience required for entry, as well as the complexities and responsibilities typical of an occupation. In general, the greater the range and complexity of occupational tasks, the greater the amount of formal education and training, previous experience, on-the-job training, and in some instance’s responsibility, required to competently perform the set of tasks for that occupation.

 
The NOC 2021 V1.0 Training, Education, Experience and Responsibility (TEER) when the second digit is…
 
Management - TEER
0
Completion of a university degree (bachelor's, master's or doctorate);
or
Previous experience and expertise in subject matter knowledge from a related occupation found in TEER 2 (when applicable).
1
Completion of a post-secondary education program of two to three years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP;
or
Completion of an apprenticeship training program of two to five years;
or
Occupations with supervisory or significant safety (e.g. police officers and firefighters) responsibilities;
or
Several years of experience in a related occupation from TEER 3 (when applicable).
2
Completion of a post-secondary education program of less than two years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP;
or
Completion of an apprenticeship training program of less than two years;
or
More than six months of on-the-job training, training courses or specific work experience with some secondary school education;
or
Several years of experience in a related occupation from TEER 4 (when applicable).
3
Completion of secondary school;
or
Several weeks of on-the-job training with some secondary school education; or
Experience in a related occupation from TEER 5 (when applicable).
4
Short work demonstration and no formal educational requirements. 5

The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 conventions

This section outlines the conventions adopted in order to assist users in consistently assigning NOC 2021 Version 1.0 codes and titles.

The “Other” title
When a unit group ends with a “9”, it is used to classify occupations in an appropriate “other” occupation when a grouping does not account for all the workers in a group, even though such workers may perform distinct sets of work activities. These occupational groups are identified in their title by ‘‘Other’’ appearing at the beginning of the title. “Other” titles exist at the sub-group, minor group or unit group level, for example, Sub-major group 729 – Other technical trades; Minor group 2139 – Other engineers; and Unit group 32209 - Other practitioners of natural healing.

Language
The NOC is available separately in both official languages. It is important to note that the French version includes only titles commonly used in French and proper to the milieu and, therefore, these are not normally translations of the English titles. The classification structure is the same in both languages.

Unit group labels, example titles, inclusions and exclusions are presented in a gender-neutral format or identified by the masculine and feminine titles separated by a slash.

Modifying terms for example titles
Modifying terms have been added to several job titles, as extensions, to designate the industrial sector or the domain of expertise. If applicable, this information is preceded by a dash at the end of the title (cashier supervisor - retail) to distinguish between similar titles. These modifying terms may also specify where the titles appear in the classification structure (painter - visual arts; painter - motor vehicle repair). This information should be considered when coding job titles.

Proprietors
As a general rule, the class of worker status, that is, whether the respondent works for wages or is self-employed, is not considered for classification purposes.

An exception is made for proprietors in retail trade, food and accommodation services, and residential home building. These are classified as managers to the following unit groups:

  • 60020 - Retail and wholesale trade managers
  • 60030 - Restaurant and food service managers
  • 60031 - Accommodation service managers
  • 70011 - Home building and renovation managers

Supervisors
Supervisors are generally classified with the workers supervised and as a result would not have a separate unit group. But there are exceptions to this convention, for example, unit groups 31300 - Nursing coordinators and supervisors and 62010 – Retail sales supervisors.

Supervisors in the following occupational categories have been classified in supervisor unit groups separate from the workers supervised:

  • administrative services occupations
  • nursing occupations
  • sales and service occupations
  • trades and transport and equipment operators
  • occupations in natural resources and agriculture
  • occupations in manufacturing.

Even when separate supervisory unit groups exist, "lead hands" are not classified as such, as previous research has indicated that supervision is usually only a minor part of such jobs.

Inspectors, testers, and graders
Generally, inspectors with TEER 2 requirements have been classified in separate unit groups or with technicians and technologists, with matching requirements. Other non-technical inspectors, testers, graders and samplers have been included either in separate unit groups covering occupations in processing industries or in unit groups of assemblers and fabricators in manufacturing industries. This is reflective of patterns of employment found within industries and the increasing responsibility for quality control that is placed on manufacturing production workers.

Apprentices and trainees
Apprentices and trainees have been classified in the same unit groups as the occupations for which they are training. Similarly, interns, residents and articling students are classified with their respective professional groups.

This convention has been adopted to prevent a proliferation of unit groups of apprentices. It is not intended to imply equivalence or interchangeability of apprentices or trainees with fully qualified workers.

Format of unit group descriptions
Each NOC unit group description consists of several standardized sections which define and describe its content.

Lead statement
This section provides a general description of the content and boundaries of the unit group and indicates the main activities of occupations within the unit group. It also indicates the kinds of industries or establishments in which the occupations are found. The list of places of employment is not always exhaustive, but can assist in clarifying the occupations described and in differentiating them from occupations found in other groups.

Illustrative examplesFootnote 3 / Example titlesFootnote 4
This section is a list of titles commonly used in the labour market. The titles are intended to illustrate the contents and range of the occupational group. This is not an exhaustive list of job titles.

Inclusions
This section provides a list of borderline job titles belonging to a particular NOC unit group. Inclusions are examples in classes where it might not be clear from reading both the class text and title that the example belongs in the class.

Exclusions
This section clarifies the boundaries of the unit group by identifying related unit groups and similar occupations that are classified elsewhere. Unit groups or individual occupations are cited in this section when they bear a functional similarity to the unit group or when similar titles occur.

Main duties
The main duties section describes the most significant duties of the occupations in the group. They are not intended 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;
  • 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.

Statements in italics, at the end of this section, identify a specialization that may exist within the occupation.

Employment requirements
This section describes the employment requirements for the unit group. Several types of requirements are identified in this section and are listed in the following order.

  • Type and level of education: for example, secondary school, college diploma, university degree and including specific subject matter if relevant, starting with the lowest possible requirement for entry into the occupation.
  • Specific training: for example, apprenticeship training, on-the-job training, training courses specific to an occupation.
  • Experience in another occupation: for example, supervisors usually require several years of experience in the occupation that they supervise.
  • Licences, certificates or registration: for example, regulatory requirements to practice in a regulated profession, special licenses to operate certain kinds of vehicles.
  • Other requirements: for example, athletic ability or artistic talent.

Some occupations have very definite employment requirements while for others, there is no consensus or a range of acceptable requirements exist. The following terminology is used to indicate the level of the requirement:

  • “... is required” - to indicate a definite requirement;
  • “... is usually required” - to indicate something that is usually required by the majority of employers, but not always required by all employers; and
  • “... may be required” - to indicate something that may be required by some employers, but on a less frequent basis.

Employment requirements items to note:

  • Some occupations are designated as regulated professions and trades. Regulations are subject to change and may vary across jurisdictions. The most reliable information on regulatory requirements for occupations is found on the websites of provincial regulatory organizations and licensing authorities.
  • For reasons of brevity, the term college includes: community colleges, CÉGEPS, technical institutes, trade schools and agricultural colleges. Where relevant, in some provinces, it may also include private training organizations, music conservatories and other non-degree granting institutions.
  • The Employment requirements section does not attempt to describe personal suitability requirements that are assessed by employers as part of the hiring process.

Additional information
This section appears in some unit group descriptions. It provides information on the following:

  • progression to other occupations (such as supervisory or management positions) based on transferability of skills from acquired occupational experience;
  • mobility patterns, such as inter- and intra-occupational transferability of skills (for example, identifying occupations that are part of internal lines of progression or specializations within a subject matter area);
  • trends and forthcoming changes in the unit group’s employment requirements; and other information to clarify and define the unit group.

Coding guidelines to NOC 2021 Version 1.0

The NOC is designed to classify occupational information in the Canadian labour market in a standardized framework and a manageable, understandable and coherent system. Statistics Canada’s role is to provide occupational information for statistical surveys and data analysis.

When conducting a search to determine what code is best associated with a job title or occupation it is important to note:

  • Even though the NOC contains more than 30,000 job titles in each of Canada’s official languages the list is not meant to be exhaustive. The list of examples does provide extensive coverage of commonly used and understood titles in the economy and of more specific titles found in many occupational areas.
  • Occupations are identified and grouped primarily by:
    • the type of work performed based on, notably, the field of study required for entry into an occupation and the industry of employment, and;
    • considering the type of training, education and experience required for entry, as well as the complexities and responsibilities.

Both of which are determined by the main duties, tasks and responsibilities of the occupation and are key when trying to determine the best code for a job title. Consideration of these factors has proven to be effective in helping to narrow the search for a desired NOC code.

Selecting a NOC code

  1. To find a NOC code associated with a job title start by using the search function and enter an occupational title or keywords related to the occupation. Searching the NOC will generate a list of possible occupations. If the initial search does not yield a matching occupational profile, sound practice is to broaden or narrow the search by using different related keywords.
  2. In order to research how closely a NOC unit group code matches a given occupation, the details of the NOC profile in question are to be reviewed, such as the main duties and employment requirements to assess which one most accurately represents the occupation in question. Other information within the NOC profile should also be assessed such as example titles, additional information, and exclusions.
  3. If the NOC unit group associated with the job title or occupation in question using the title job search is not found, the NOC structure can be used to narrow down the research. Apply knowledge of which sector of activity the occupation in question is associated to, e.g. health, natural sciences, trades, or transportation. That will limit the search to NOC unit groups found under one “broad occupational category”, which is represented by the first digit of the NOC code. Reduction of the scope based on the TEER requirements of the job or occupation can be beneficial. These requirements correspond to the second digit of the NOC code. Please note these may differ from personal educational levels.
  4. Once the broad occupational category and the TEER associated with the job have been identified, a short list of relevant NOC sub-major groups (represented by the first three digits of the NOC code) and NOC minor groups (represented by the first four digits of the NOC code) will be available.
  5. A review of the list of all the NOC unit groups found under the relevant NOC minor groups is required, prior to accessing the occupational description of each unit groups to find where the occupation has been classified.
  6. To code an occupation, it is possible to use either the search tool or the classification structure.

Related Classifications

The classification of occupations does not stand alone but must be understood as being related to other classifications, such as the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and that of Class of Worker. Each of these classifications supplements the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 in presenting a rounded picture of the nature of a person's job.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

The industrial qualifier which may accompany the job title:

  1. Indicates the type of economic activity with which the job is usually associated. (It is important to note that the assignment of an industrial qualifier does not necessarily limit a job to that industry. These qualifiers are merely indicative of the possible areas of activity in which the job may be found.)
  2. Permits the assignment of similar titles to different occupation groups where the duties vary between industries.
  3. Aids in defining the specific occupations and helps the coder grasp the underlying principles of this classification.

The industry in which the individual is employed is determined by the kind of economic activity of the establishment. The establishment is usually a factory, mine, farm, store, other place of business or an institution for which a number of basic production variables can be compiled.

It is important to note the conceptual differences between an industry classification and an occupation classification. An establishment can employ individuals performing completely different occupations, and these are classified to appropriate occupational groups, but the industrial classification of each individual employed in the establishment should be the same and is determined by the nature of the production process of the establishment. In other words, the nature of the factory, business or service in which the person is employed does not determine the classification of the occupation, except to the extent that it enables the nature of the duties to be more clearly defined, but it does determine the classification of the establishment by industry.

Class of worker

Class of worker refers to an individual's employment relationship to the business in which they work, as employee or self-employed, including unpaid family workers, and thus provides another means of describing the work. The NOC 2021 Version 1.0 does not indicate the class of worker classification for each occupation since many occupations contain both jobs held by employees and jobs of self-employed individuals. The scope of what is an occupation has been outlined in the section “The underlying concepts”.

Relationship between NOC and ISCO-08

The NOC is comparable to the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) published by the International Labour Organization (ILO). While the NOC was originally developed in Canada in the 1980s, ISCO was also being reviewed and updated to produce ISCO-88. Communication between the NOC and ISCO research teams led to similarities, such as a similar conceptual framework that includes the Skill Type and Skill Level dimensions. The similarities between the NOC and ISCO increased in later structural revision (ISCO-08 and NOC 2011) cycles. However, certain conceptual differences between the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 and ISCO-08 limit comparability. For instance, differences in the classification criteria and classification structure exist between NOC 2021 Version 1.0 and ISCO-08. Additionally, subsistence occupations included in ISCO are not part of the NOC. For countries and regions in which subsistence activities are virtually non-existent, the ILO affirms that such activities may be excluded without loss of international comparability.

The concordance between NOC 2011 and ISCO 2008 can be used for purposes of showing the relationship between NOC 2016 and ISCO 2008 since the structure is the same in both NOC 2011 and NOC 2016. A correspondence table is available between NOC 2016 V1.3 and NOC 2021 V1.0; a correspondence table between NOC 2021 V1.0 and ISCO-08 will be developed and published.

Summary of changes from NOC 2016 Version 1.3 to NOC 2021 Version 1.0

  • Changes occurred at all levels of the NOC structure. Some items were revised while others were added, split, transferred or merged. A complete list of all changes detailed at the unit group level (the most detailed level of the NOC structure) is released as a separate correspondence file and is available at the following link: NOC 2016 V1.3 - NOC 2021 V1.0.

A correspondence table for the NOC 2016 Version 1.3 – NOC 2021 Version 1.0 at all levels of the classification will be made available upon request.

Higher level structural changes

The following are some examples of higher level structural changes:

In the 2016 version of the NOC, “BOC 0 – Management” included all unit groups dedicated to managerial occupations. Under the 2021 NOC, management is identified in the employment requirements, via the TEER system, rather than as a “field of study and/or industry”. The BOC 0 now only contains legislators and senior management occupations. Middle management occupations previously in BOC 0 have been redistributed into the remaining 9 BOCs based on the industry of employment. For example: 0211 - Engineering managers (NOC 2016 V1.3) has been moved to BOC 2 – Natural and applied sciences and related occupations, to unit group 20010 – Engineering managers (NOC 2021 V1.0).

Another example of a higher level structural change is NOC 2016 Version 1.3 minor group 227 - Transportation officers and controllers (and associated unit groups) was moved from BOC 2 - Natural and applied sciences and related occupations to BOC 7 - Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations as NOC 2021 Version 1.0 minor group 7260 - Transportation officers and controllers (and associated unit groups). This move better aligns the minor occupation group with the industry of employment.

As it is done for all standard statistical classifications, we provide a more detailed analysis of the changes at the lowest of the classification, which is the unit group level for the NOC.

Changes at the unit group level

The unit group level (5-digit) is the most detailed level of the NOC and it is used for the analysis of the changes in a more detailed manner. Some items were revised while others were added, split, transferred or merged. The Generic Statistical Information Model (GSIM) is used to identify the types of changes made to the classification: real changes and virtual changes. Real changes are those affecting the scope of the existing classification items or categories, whether or not accompanied by changes in the title, definition and/or the coding. Virtual changes are those made in coding, titles and/or definitions, while the meaning or scope of the classification item remains the same. The "real changes" are the most important ones for analysis.

Here are some examples of real changes at the unit group level:

Creation and deletion of new classification items

Creations occur when a new item emerges and is not part of any one or more existing item(s). A deletion, the mirror opposite of creation, occurs when an item expires and no part of it proceeds as part of one or more existing item(s). No new classification items (unit groups) were created to the NOC 2021 Version 1.0, and no NOC 2016 V1.3 classification items were deleted according to the deletion and creation definitions found in GSIM.

Combination of classification items

Combinations consist of mergers and take-overs among classification items. There were 4 mergers and 8 take-overs of NOC 2016 Version 1.3 unit groups. Essentially, unit groups were combined into an emerging unit group (merger) or an existing unit group (take-over) with the intent to re-arrange the classification of occupational groupings to reflect the current and emerging labour market.

Merger examples

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
9222 Supervisors, electronics manufacturing Merger 92021 Supervisors, electronics and electrical products manufacturing 9222 and 9223 expired and all parts of both merged into emerging item 92021.
9223 Supervisors, electrical products manufacturing Merger
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
9432 Pulp mill machine operators Merger 94121 Pulp mill, papermaking and finishing machine operators 9432 and 9433 expired and all parts of both merged into emerging item 94121.
9433 Papermaking and finishing machine operators Merger

Take-over examples

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
7247 Cable television service and maintenance technicians Take-over 72204 Telecommunications line and cable installers and repairers 7247 expires and part proceeds between 72204 and 72205.
Take-over 72205 Telecommunications equipment installation and cable television service technicians
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
9531 Boat assemblers and inspectors Take-over 94219 Other products assemblers, finishers and inspectors 9531 expired and all taken-over as part of 94219.

Decomposition of classification items

27 classification items are a result of either a breakdown or a split-off: 1 breakdown and 26 split-offs. Unit groups either expired and were distributed over emerging items (breakdown) or partially continued with part assigned (split-off) to emerging unit group with the intent to better align occupational grouping based on the TEER classification criteria and reflect the current and emerging labour market. Below are examples of decomposition changes related to the addition of more detailed classification items.

Breakdown examples

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
2263 Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety Breakdown 21120 Public and environmental health and safety professionals 2263 expires, while its denotation is distributed over emerging items 21120 and 22232.
Breakdown 22232 Occupational health and safety specialists

Split-off examples

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
0431 Commissioned police officers Split-off 40040 Commissioned police officers and related occupations in public protection services 0431 continues as 40040 and part split-off to emerging item 41310.
Split-off 41310 Police investigators and other investigative occupations
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
1228 Employment insurance, immigration, border services and revenue officers Split-off 12104 Employment insurance and revenue officers 1228 continues as 43203 and part split-off to emerging item 12104.
Split-off 43203 Border services, customs, and immigration officers
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
2171 Information systems analysts and consultants Split-off 21211 Data scientists 2171 continues as 21222 and part split-off to emerging items 21211, 21220, 21221 and 21233.
Split-off 21220 Cybersecurity specialists
Split-off 21221 Business systems specialists
Split-off 21222 Information systems specialists
Split-off 21233 Web designers
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
2172 Database analysts and data administrators Split-off 21211 Data scientists 2172 continues as 21223 and part split-off to emerging item 21211.
Split-off 21223 Database analysts and data administrators
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
2173 Software engineers and designers Split-off 21211 Data scientists 2173 continues as 21231 and part split off to emerging item 21211.
Split-off 21231 Software engineers and designers

There were 7 decomposition instances where part of a unit group continued and part split-off to an emerging unit group and part transferred to an existing unit group. Below is an example of this.

Split off/Transfer Example

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
3124 Allied primary health practitioners Split-off 31302 Nurse practitioners 3124 continues as 31303 and part transferred to 32103 and part split off to emerging item 31302.
Split-off / Transfer 31303 Physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals
Transfer 32103 Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

Transfer of classification items or their parts

There were 42 instances where part of a unit group continued and part of it was transferred to one or more existing unit groups with the intent to better align with the TEER classification criteria and in some cases better realign occupational groupings.

Transfer examples

 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
1253 Records management technicians Transfer 12111 Health information management occupations 1253 continues as 12112 and part transferred to 12111.
Transfer 12112 Records management technicians
 
NOC 2016 V1.3 Code(s) REAL CHANGE GSIM NAME NOC 2021 V1.0 Code(s) Description of Change
1525 Dispatchers Transfer 13201 Production and transportation logistics coordinators 1525 continues as 14404 and part transferred to 13201.
Transfer 14404 Dispatchers

Virtual Changes

Essentially, all items of the classification were affected by virtual changes. For example, all unit groups with 1 to 1 links were still affected by code changes as a result of the TEER system. At the most detailed level of the classification (unit groups) more than 470 unit groups were modified where changes were made to titles and definitions. For example, some titles were modified to better describe the occupational groupings based on content revisions. These types of changes are important for clarification and making necessary updates or corrections.

Finally, all changes made (real or virtual) can potentially have an impact on the content of the classification file, which at the most detailed level contains leading statements, illustrative and example job titles, exclusions, inclusions, main duties, employment requirements and additional information. More than 3500 content items have been either added, deleted or edited and more than 1000 job titles have been added, deleted or edited in this NOC 2021 Version 1.0. These two components of the classification support coding of occupations and fosters fluidity when reading or using the classification.

Net Changes in the NOC 2021 Version 1.0 relative to the NOC 2016 Version 1.3

 
Level NOC 2021 V1.0 NOC 2016 V1.3 Net Changes
Broad Category 10 10 0
Major Group 45 40 +5
Sub-major Group 89Table Note 1 N\A +89
Minor Group 162 140 +22
Unit Group 516Table Note 2 500 +16

Table Notes

Footnote 1

New to the NOC structure in 2021.

Return to table note 1 referrer

Footnote 2

7 unit groups were eliminated and 23 new unit groups were added, resulting in a net difference of 16.

Return to table note 2 referrer

More information on the NOC 2021 Version 1.0

For questions related to the National Occupational Classification, please send an email to: statcan.csds-standards-occupations-cnsd-normes-professions.statcan@canada.ca.

For information on the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and its use for programs and services such as, immigrating to Canada, labour market information, job searches and working in Canada, please contact Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

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