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Tutorial

NOC 2011

Table of Contents

Introduction

Overview

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. The system includes a series of publications that help these people to organize and use statistics and other labour market facts.

This tutorial is a companion to these publications and a training resource for anyone who is using or intends to use the NOC. By the end of this training, you will be able to:

  • understand the structure and components of the NOC
  • understand the importance and applications of the NOC
  • properly classify occupations according to the NOC

In order to complete this training you will need to have access to the NOC Occupational Descriptions, the NOC Matrix and the Index of Titles available at http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Welcome.aspx.

This tutorial is based on a progressive learning format. We will first look at the origin of the NOC, its importance and its uses. You will learn the meaning of the digits of NOC codes and how they relate directly to the structure. By the end of this training you will know how to use the NOC for looking up occupational titles, finding occupational descriptions, coding purposes and other applications.

Let’s start by understanding the origin of the NOC and its significance in Canada.

History

The NOC was implemented in 1991/92 as a replacement for the Canadian Classification and Dictionary of Occupations (CCDO). It was created through an extensive program of research, collecting information from employers, workers, educators and associations. Analyses and consultations were also conducted with providers and users of labour market data across the country. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) worked closely with Statistics Canada to ensure strong links between the NOC and Statistics Canada's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), for the collection and publication of labour market data.

The first revised edition of the NOC, NOC 2001, replaced the original publication and the parallel 1991 SOC produced by Statistics Canada. The revised SOC was then replaced with the National Occupational Classification for Statistics (NOC-S). The NOC 2001 and the NOC-S filled the gaps that were identified as shortcomings of the 1992 NOC. These included a missing technical level for information technology occupations, inconsistencies in relation to the statistical structure and the challenges in capturing the emergence of new work methods and new titles used in the labour market. The NOC 2001, while conservative with respect to structural change, reflected the evolution of occupations over the decade between 1991 and 2001 in Canada.

The NOC is updated on a regular basis through an ongoing program of research. This results in updates or revisions which coincide with Census cycles. The NOC was updated for Census 2006 in collaboration with Statistics Canada. This was a minor update. Research was completed for the 20th anniversary of the NOC which has resulted in the release of the revised NOC for Census 2011. NOC 2011 represents a major structural revision which has unified the NOC and the NOC-S. Significant content and structural revisions affecting the coding system have been made for this edition.

The goal of the NOC is to make it easier for users at all levels to achieve a better understanding of work in the Canadian labour market. The Occupational Descriptions provide formal descriptions of 500 occupational groups. These descriptions are identified by codes and titles organized in a four-level numerical hierarchy.

The NOC ensures that labour market statistics are collected and assembled in a standard way that will be meaningful to users. At the same time, the descriptions allow technical users, such as economists and business analysts, to understand exactly what the statistics mean.

Applications

The NOC provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians. It is used at all stages of the process from defining and collecting data, to managing information databases, to analyzing labour market trends and extracting practical career planning information.

The NOC also supports a variety of career information resources published by the Government of Canada and others. For example, information on occupational outlooks, the national Job Bank listing of jobs available across Canada and the Working in Canada Web site for dynamic labour market information, are all organized according to the structure of the NOC. The NOC provides a standard way of organizing occupational information that is presented in all of these resources.

Data Collection

The hierarchical coding structure of the NOC is used in the collection of occupational information. For example, economists and statisticians use the NOC to guide the collection and compilation of data. The Government of Canada uses it for the analysis of occupational data collected from the Census, Labour Force Survey and other surveys.

The NOC is also used for a variety of special surveys with respect to labour mobility, technological change, administrative data and other indicators of labour market activity. In addition, provincial governments and private survey companies use the NOC to ensure that the information they collect will be directly comparable to data they get from other sources.

Labour Market Analysis

Labour market researchers use the NOC to understand the underpinnings of the statistics they use, and more importantly, to interpret them correctly. The NOC provides the context for the interpretation of statistical information. These users analyze the Canadian labour market to understand emerging trends, to guide policy decisions and to develop systems for training, recruiting and job matching. National, regional and local labour market information can be accessed by visiting www.workingincanada.gc.ca.

Labour market analyses include work done within the government to set policy and improve labour market efficiency. For example, all levels of government use this type of analysis to allocate spending for labour market programs, to manage systems for matching jobs with workers who have the required skills, and for immigration selection procedures.

Career Planning and Job Seeking

Career developers, counsellors and students use the NOC and related resources such as the Career Handbook for career planning and exploration purposes. An understanding of occupational definitions, employment requirements and opportunities is central to the goal of matching the interests and aptitudes of individuals to the requirements and opportunities associated with occupations.

Job seekers, employment counsellors and employers rely on the NOC to make effective use of labour market information services provided by the government, organizations and stakeholders. An important application is the national Job Bank, which is accessible over the Internet and can be viewed at www.jobbank.gc.ca or www.workingincanada.gc.ca.

Exploring the NOC

In a nutshell, the NOC is a tool that is used to classify occupations according to their Skill Level and Skill Type. A four-digit code, called the "NOC code", identifies the occupation. Each digit of this code reflects an important trait of the occupation it represents.

Let's begin by looking at each digit and the significance it has with respect to the NOC.

Skill Type

Skill Type is the broadest occupational category and is based on the type of work performed. It also reflects the field of training or experience that is normally required for entry into occupations. This includes the educational area of study required, as well as the industry of employment in cases where experience within an internal job ladder is required for entry. These categories are intended to indicate easily understood segments of the world of work.

The first digit of the NOC code designates the Skill Type (see chart below). For example, Occupations in manufacturing and utilities start with the digit 9. Management Occupations, which are found across all Skill Types, start with the digit 0.

The 10 Skill Types that represent the first digit of a NOC code.

NOC Skill Types
Skill TypeOccupation
0Management occupations
1Business, finance and administration occupations
2Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
3Health occupations
4Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
5Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport
6Sales and service occupations
7Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations
8Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations
9Occupations in manufacturing and utilities


Let us look at each Skill Type in more detail.

0. Management occupations
This Skill Type category contains legislators, senior management occupations and middle and other management occupations. These occupations span all Skill Type categories.

1. Business, finance and administration occupations
This Skill Type category contains occupations that are concerned with providing financial and business services, administrative and regulatory services and clerical supervision and support services. Some occupations in this Skill Type are unique to the financial and business service sectors; however, most are found in all industries.

2. Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
This Skill Type category contains professional and technical occupations in the sciences, including physical and life sciences, engineering, architecture and information technology.

3. Health occupations
This Skill Type category includes occupations concerned with providing health care services directly to patients and occupations that provide support to professional and technical health care staff.

4. Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
This Skill Type category includes occupations that are concerned with teaching, law, social and community services, social sciences, occupations in public administration including front line public protection services, developing government policy, and administering government and other programs.

5. Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport
This Skill Type category includes professional and technical occupations related to art and culture, including the performing arts, film and video, broadcasting, journalism, writing, creative design, libraries and museums. It also includes occupations in recreation and sport.

6. Sales and service occupations
This Skill Type category contains sales occupations and personal and customer service occupations including hospitality and tourism.

7. Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations
This Skill Type category includes construction and mechanical trades, trades supervisors and contractors and operators of transportation and heavy equipment. These occupations are found in a wide range of industries.

This Skill Type category also includes most of the apprenticeable trades. Other occupations in this category usually require completion of college or other programs combined with on-the-job training. Progression to supervisory or self-employed contractor status is possible with experience. There is limited mobility or transferability of skills among occupations in this category due to specific apprenticeship, training and licensing requirements for most occupations.

8. Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations
This Skill Type category contains supervisory and equipment operation occupations in the natural resource-based sectors of mining, oil and gas production, forestry and logging, agriculture, horticulture, fishing, hunting and trapping. Most occupations in this category are industry specific and do not occur outside of the primary industries.

9. Occupations in manufacturing and utilities
This Skill Type category contains supervisory and production occupations in manufacturing, processing and utilities.

You now know how occupations are classified according to a work domain that is called "Skill Type". We will now learn how the NOC further categorizes occupations according to different levels of skill required for entering occupations.

Skill Level

In the context of the NOC, Skill Level corresponds to the type and/or amount of training or education typically required to work in an occupation. The NOC consists of four Skill Levels identified A through D with each level assigned one of two numerical codes ranging from 0 to 7. To illustrate this concept, have a look at the chart below to see the relationship between the alphabetical indicator of each Skill Level and its accompanying numerical digits.

Skill Level is primarily based on the nature of education and training required to enter an occupation. This criterion also reflects the experience required and the complexity of the responsibilities involved in the work, compared with other occupations. In most cases, progression to Skill Level A, from B, is not usually possible without completion of additional formal education, whereas progression from Skill Level D to Skill Level C is often achievable through on-the-job training and experience.

Each Skill Level is intended to reflect commonly accepted paths to employment in an occupation. Where there are several paths to employment, the Skill Level most commonly identified by employers is used, considering the context of the occupation and the trends in hiring requirements.

The second digit of the NOC code represents the Skill Level for all occupations, with the exception of Management which will be discussed below.

The 4 Skill Levels, A to D, used in the NOC are identified in the second digit of the NOC code.

NOC Skill Levels
Skill Level
(alpha)
Skill Level
(digit)
Nature of Education/ Training
A
Occupations usually require university education.
0 or 1 University degree at the bachelor's, master's or doctorate level.
B
Occupations usually require college or vocational education or apprenticeship training.
2 or 3 Two to three years of post-secondary education at a community college, institute of technology or CEGEP
or
Two to five years of apprenticeship training
or
Three to four years of secondary school and more than two years of on-the-job training, specialized training courses or specific work experience.
Occupations with supervisory responsibilities and occupations with significant health and safety responsibilities, such as firefighters, police officers and registered nursing assistants are all assigned the Skill Level B.
C
Occupations usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training.
4 or 5Some secondary school education, with up to two years of on-the-job training, training courses or specific work experience.
D
On-the-job training is usually provided for occupations.
6 or 7 Short work demonstration or on-the-job training
or
No formal educational requirements.


Practice Quiz I

By now, you understand the importance and the practical nature of the NOC. You also know the two basic concepts that make up the structure of the NOC - Skill Type and Skill Level - and understand the purposes for each.

To facilitate your learning, try the online practice quiz. This quiz is designed to help you identify areas of difficulty you may be experiencing with the material. It is comprised of 15 multiple-choice questions that review the material up to this point. You are encouraged to use the NOC Web site to explore its features and sections. Please note that the quiz is voluntary and no personal information about you is recorded. It's fun! Give it a try.

Management Occupations

Management occupations classified as Skill Type 0, span all other Skill Types from 1 through 9 of the classification structure, and are found in all areas of the labour market. All NOC codes that begin with a zero represent management occupations. When the second digit is also zero, this represents "senior" management occupations. To identify all other management occupations, the second digit (1 through 9) corresponds to management within each Skill Type.

To illustrate this concept let us look at the following:

  • Management occupations in sales and services begin with 06. The 0 indicates that it is a management level occupation and the 6 indicates that the occupation falls under the Sales and Service Skill Type.
  • Now consider an NOC code that has a zero as its first and second digit. Similar to the example above, we know that this occupation is a management occupation because it begins with zero. We also know that the second digit for management occupations may reflect the Skill Type. However, because there is no Skill Type 0, we can conclude that this is a senior management occupation.

Management occupations are at the top of all organizational hierarchies. These occupations are characterized by high levels of responsibility and are also included in Skill Level A.

Major Groups

Major groups follow the broadest categorization of occupations and are identified by the first two digits of an NOC code. It is a roll-up, or, an aggregation of minor groups (which we will look at shortly). There are 40 major groups in the NOC 2011 and these are classified as follows:

Major Groups
MANAGEMENT OCCUPATIONS
00 Senior management occupations
01-05 Specialized middle management occupations
06 Middle management occupations in retail and wholesale trade and customer services
07-09 Middle management occupations in trades, transportation, production and utililties
BUSINESS, FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION OCCUPATIONS
11 Professional occupations in business and finance
12 Administrative and financial supervisors and administrative occupations
13 Finance, insurance and related business administrative occupations
14 Office support occupations
15 Distribution, tracking and scheduling co-ordination occupations
NATURAL AND APPLIED SCIENCES AND RELATED OCCUPATIONS
21 Professional occupations in natural and applied sciences
22 Technical occupations related to natural and applied sciences
HEALTH OCCUPATIONS
30 Professional occupations in nursing
31 Professional occupations in health (except Nursing)
32 Technical occupations in health
34 Assisting occupations in support of health services
OCCUPATIONS IN EDUCATION, LAW AND SOCIAL, COMMUNITY AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES
40 Professional occupations in education services
41 Professional occupations in law and social, community and government services
42 Paraprofessional occupations in legal, social, community and education services
43 Occupations in front-line public protection services
44 Care providers and educational, legal and public protection support occupations
OCCUPATIONS IN ART, CULTURE, RECREATION AND SPORT
51 Professional occupations in art and culture
52 Technical occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport
SALES AND SERVICE OCCUPATIONS
62 Retail sales supervisors and specialized sales occupations
63 Service supervisors and specialized service occupations
64 Sales representatives and salespersons – wholesale and retail trade
65 Service representatives and other customer and personal services occupations
66 Sales and support occupations
67 Service support and other service occupations n.e.c.
TRADES, TRANSPORT AND EQUIPMENT OPERATORS AND RELATED OCCUPATIONS
72 Industrial, electrical and construction trades
73 Maintenance and equipment operation trades
74 Other installers, repairers and servicers and material handlers
75 Transport and heavy equipment operation and related maintenance occupations
76 Trades helpers, construction labourers and related occupations
NATURAL RESOURCES, AGRICULTURE AND RELATED PRODUCTION OCCUPATIONS
82 Supervisors and technical occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production
84 Workers in natural resources, agriculture and related production
86 Harvesting, landscaping and natural resources labourers
OCCUPATIONS IN MANUFACTURING AND UTILITIES
92 Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators
94 Processing and manufacturing machine operators and related production workers
95 Assemblers in manufacturing
96 Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities


As we have learned, the first digit represents the Skill Type for an occupation and the second digit of the code identifies Skill Level, or the type and duration of training required. Therefore, we can have several major groups within each Skill Type. In the example of Sales and Service Occupations, there are six major groups:

62  Retail sales supervisors and specialized sales occupations
63  Service supervisors and specialized service occupations
64  Sales representatives and salespersons – wholesale and retail trade
65  Service representatives and other customer and personal services occupations
66  Sales and support occupations
67  Service support and other service occupations n.e.c.

Minor Groups

The major groups are further divided at the three-digit level, into 140 minor groups. For example, major group 62, Retail sales supervisors and specialized sales occupations, includes three minor groups:

621   Retail sales supervisors
622   Technical sales specialists in wholesale trade and retail and wholesale buyers
623   Insurance, real estate and financial sales occupations

By now you have probably realized that each digit of the NOC code helps to further specify an occupation. At the minor group level, you can pinpoint a domain in which an occupation is carried out. However, we need to go one step further to identify an actual occupational group.

Unit Groups

At the detailed four-digit level, the system is expanded into 500 occupational groups identified as unit groups, each with a unique code. Unit groups represent further specificity within an occupational domain. For example, minor group 623 Insurance, real estate and financial sales occupations includes three unit groups:

6231  Insurance agents and brokers
6232   Real estate agents and salespersons
6235  Financial sales representatives

You have now learned about the structure of the NOC and how codes are related to Skill Type and Skill Level. The question now is: how do you find these codes and use them in practical terms? This will be addressed in the following section, which will introduce you to the NOC tools that you can use to code and describe occupations. We will begin by looking at the Occupational Descriptions that contain all of the information that you need to code occupations.

Note that not all 4th-digit unit group codes are listed consecutively without gaps. This indicates that structural changes occurred in the unit group listing under this minor group in the revision process.

Occupational Descriptions

Whether you are an economist analyzing labour market data for a specific occupation or an employment counsellor helping someone determine what type of training to take, occupational descriptions help us understand an occupation using a standardized language.

Occupational descriptions have been developed for each of the 500 unit groups included in the NOC. Each description is referred to as an "NOC group". Each description includes the following elements:

Lead Statement

The lead statement provides a general description of the occupation and the boundaries of the unit group. It also indicates the kinds of industries, workplaces or establishments where the occupation is found.

Example Titles

Example titles are the occupational titles commonly found within the group. This list is an extraction of a more expansive listing of alphabetical job titles found in the NOC Index of Titles.

Main Duties

The main duties section describes the most significant duties of the occupations in the group. It may include:

  • 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.

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

Employment Requirements

Employment requirements are prerequisites generally needed to enter the 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;
  • licences, certificates or affiliations; and/or
  • other requirements not dependent on formal education, such as athletic abilities, artistic talent or presentation of a portfolio.

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 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 assessed during the hiring process.

Additional Information

Some descriptions include additional information to give details on:

  • mobility patterns;
  • progression to supervisory positions, specializations or to other occupations such as management;
  • other information that may clarify the occupational description.

Classified Elsewhere

The classified elsewhere section helps to clarify the boundaries of the unit group by identifying similar groups or related occupations, such as supervisory groups, that are separately classified.

The Matrix

A chart called the NOC Matrix illustrates the Major and the Minor groups, and the relationship between Skill Types and Skill Levels. This provides an overview of the entire classification structure. The Matrix can be viewed at: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/Matrix.aspx.

Skill Types are represented in the columns while the Skill Levels are found in rows. Managerial occupations are found in the top portion of the chart, indicating the presence of management across all segments of the labour market.

While the Matrix can be helpful in identifying Major and Minor Groups, it does not identify Unit Groups due to space limitations.

Index of Titles

As useful as the unit group headings or labels are, they do not always correspond with the real-world job titles in use every day. For this reason, the Index of Titles is a tool used to search for occupational titles in addition to those that appear in the occupational descriptions.

Scope of the Index of Titles

The Index of Titles contains thousands of titles classified within the 500 occupational groups of the NOC. With millions of people in the employed labour force, it is impossible to capture all of the individualized job titles that could potentially exist. 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, as well as the more obscure and specific titles found in many occupational areas. Some of the more commonly used titles in an occupation are listed as examples within each NOC unit group description.

Approximately 40,000 titles included in the Index have been carried forward from the original NOC, published in 1992, as they are still currently used in the labour market. Many new and additional titles were added to the revised NOC 2001, the 2006 update and the current 2011 edition. These titles have been collected in ongoing occupational research conducted since the implementation of the first edition.

To assist users, the Index includes both formally recognized occupational titles (e.g., radiography technologist) and less formal titles that are commonly used (e.g., X-ray technician). Some titles represent occupations (e.g., librarian; chef), while other titles refer to specializations within an occupation (e.g., music librarian; pastry chef). Still, others correspond to a range of jobs (e.g., furniture assembler; sawmill machine operator).

Inversions

Occupational titles appear in the Index both in natural order (e.g., travel agent) and in inverted order (e.g., agent, travel). Inverted titles use a comma as a separator in the title string. To facilitate the location of particular generic titles, such as clerk, director, supervisor, etc., many inversions have been included.

However, when an occupational title is modified to provide more specificity, such as criminal lawyer, tax lawyer and real estate lawyer, and are all classified in the same NOC unit group, the Index includes the modified titles in natural order. It also includes the generic title, lawyer, but does not list all the inversions. When the modified titles are classified in different NOC unit groups (e.g., chemical engineer, civil engineer and industrial engineer), inversions are included in the Index to assist users in finding the appropriate unit group from the range of choices.

Modifiers

Industry, institution or subject matter modifiers are added to many titles. This information is attached to the title following a dash (e.g., customer service supervisor - retail; electronics mechanic - avionics) to provide a means of differentiation among titles. Often, the extensions provide further information to clarify the placement of titles in the classification structure (e.g., painter - visual arts; painter - motor vehicle manufacturing). These modifiers should be considered when coding an occupational title.

Military Titles

Prior to the 2011 revision, titles of military occupations were indicated by adding the modifier military after a dash (e.g., sonar technician - military). Military occupations are now classified according to rank. These titles are now found within the unit groups for either the commissioned ranks or non-commissioned ranks of the armed forces.

Concordance Between Languages

The terminological research conducted for the translation and adaptation of the titles contained in this revised Index of Titles has dealt with a component that was not previously addressed. Concordances for all titles in both official languages have been identified. The level of concordance identifies correspondence between one title (or several where there are equivalent titles) to one or many titles in the other language.

Practice Quiz II

By now, you understand how management occupations are classified within the NOC. You also know the three main categorizations of the NOC: major, minor and unit groups. Finally, you have learned about the descriptive content and titles in the NOC.

To facilitate your learning, try the online practice quiz. Similar to the first quiz this one is designed to help you identify areas of difficulty that you may be experiencing with the material. The second quiz is comprised of 20 multiple-choice questions that review all of the material covered up to this point. Again, you are encouraged to use the NOC Web site and its various search features, Introduction, Matrix and Index of titles. Note that the quiz is voluntary and no personal information about you is recorded.

Putting It All Together

Now that you have a better understanding of the structure and concepts surrounding the NOC, it’s time to put what you have learned into practice. The remainder of your learning will bridge the gap between theory and application. We will concentrate on learning how to code an occupation based on minimal criteria. This will enable you to better understand the uses of the NOC. Finally, you will learn advanced tips and strategies to classify some of the more difficult occupations. So, let's go...

Learning to Code

The numerical hierarchy upon which the NOC is based is familiar to regular users of statistics; it offers the convenience of describing the entire structure, and all its underlying definitions, with one number.

It is important that all users learn how to properly code. Accurate coding is especially important to users who depend on data that is collected using the NOC. For example, when analyzing Census occupational data, an economist must be aware of the potential impacts of coding error.

Understanding how coding works will help users recognize errors, why they are made and how to avoid making the same errors in the future.

The usefulness of the NOC occupational descriptions is enhanced by the fact that each occupational code reflects the skills required; this means that the NOC is directly focused on the work performed. Each occupation is defined in terms of the type and level of skill required.

The type of skill is assigned based on 10 broad occupational areas (0 to 9). These areas combine work type - such as management, work sectors - such as health or sales, and some other characteristics of work - for example, subject matter domains such as natural and applied sciences. The first digit of an occupational code normally reflects the Skill Type.

The level of skill required is based on the type of education or training needed to perform the work. There are four basic levels where occupations require either university, college/technical school or apprenticeship/training, high school/on-the-job training, or short demonstration training. Skill Level is shown as the second digit of the NOC code, except for management occupations.

Together, the first and second digit make up the Major Group. The first, second, and third digit make up the Minor Group, with the third digit representing more specificity related to the area in which an occupation is carried out.

The Unit Group refers to the four-digit NOC code. The four-digit code represents the occupation within the area represented by the Minor Group.

If you're thinking, "Ok, I already know all of this" that's great - you are almost an expert in the NOC! Now, your last challenge will be to apply what you have learned.

Classification Criteria

As much as a classification system is important, it cannot deliver valid results without having a reliable method for organizing data. This is the point where learning how to properly classify occupations is critical.

Often, the easiest way to classify occupations is achieved by using the Index of Titles. While this is an easy method, it is not necessarily the most reliable method. The NOC provides an overall structure for classifying occupations according to the kind of work performed. The lists of example titles are merely indicative of the types of occupations that fit within specific groups. The lists of example titles are not exhaustive nor are they intended to be. The person coding an occupation must always keep in mind that occupational titles defined by only one source, or a specific employer, do not always coincide with the NOC definition.

For example, most private companies create their own occupational titles without consulting the NOC. Therefore, a customer service representative who works for a particular company may in fact be a telemarketer according to the NOC. This case exemplifies one of the major pitfalls of the coding practice - the assumption that all occupational titles and descriptions are universal or standardized - they are not and the coder must recognize this fact.

When coding an occupation, all the relevant facts about the job and its environment should be obtained, including the kind of work performed, the most important duties, the job titles, the kind of business, industry or service, and the class of worker.

There is no simple formula or recipe to identify whether an occupational title or description is equivalent to the title and description in the NOC. However, the more complete and comprehensive the information obtained, the easier it will be to determine the appropriate classification. We will discuss the most important criteria to consider when assigning codes. You may inevitably come across any of the following challenges when coding:

Coding Examples

A. Coding an occupation with only a job description

A personnel administrator in a large corporation wants to find the occupational code for a proposed new position within the company. The duties indicate the new position is assistant to a senior executive and it has been decided that a community college diploma in business administration will be required. The company wants to use the NOC to classify their new position. The NOC may also be used to assign a title to the position. Here is how the administrator would locate the occupational code for the position.

The personnel administrator identifies the Skill Type and Skill Level specified in the job description and consults the NOC website. Starting with the Skill Type, he concludes that the occupation is part of the group called Business, Finance and Administration Occupations, all of which start with the digit 1.

Next, she considers that community college graduation indicates Skill Level B, which can be reflected as either a 2 or a 3 in the second digit of the code. She finds three major groups: professional (11), administrative (12) and administrative support (14), so the position will be in Major Group 12: Administrative and financial supervisors and administrative occupations..

Next, she considers the four minor groups in this category, which are delineated by area or domain of work:

121   Administrative services supervisors
122   Administrative and regulatory occupations
123   Office administrative assistants - general, legal and medical
124   Court reporters, transcriptionists, records management technicians and statistical officers

The new position is not supervisory, so the choice is narrowed down to minor groups 122, 124 and 125. After reviewing the 8 unit groups included in Administrative and regulatory occupations, the administrator finds that the most relevant unit group is 1222 Executive assistants. The NOC description of duties includes such elements as analysis, research and meeting independently with clients. However, the proposed position is oriented more towards handling correspondence and scheduling meetings on behalf of the executive and therefore, he decides that this is not the appropriate code.

Turning to minor group 124, the personnel administrator finds that unit group 1241 Administrative assistants is a possibility, since the other unit groups in that category are specialized. The duties for NOC 1241 Administrative assistants listed in the Occupational Descriptions closely match those listed in the new job description. Also, the description indicates that completion of a one- or two-year college diploma is a typical requirement. He checks the "Classified Elsewhere" section and finds that none of them are appropriate, so codes the position as 1241 Administrative assistants. Using the example titles, he assigns the "executive secretary" title to the company's new position.

B. Coding an occupation using the title and description

In this example, a paralegal in an immigration lawyer's office wants to find the occupational classification code for a client who is seeking to immigrate to Canada. She knows that the client assists with patient care in a dentist's clinic, and that the client will be seeking similar work in Canada. Here is how she would locate the code for the occupation.

The paralegal knows that the title of the client's previous job in another country was "clinic assistant". She uses the NOC Web site titles search and looks at the listings. Clinic assistant is shown with references to unit groups 3411 and 3414. Noting that more example titles are displayed in the result for 3414, she clicks on that link first. After going through the profile for 3414, she decides that this code does not describe the client’s experience and qualifications closely enough. She then goes back to the search results and clicks on the link to 3411. She identifies the title dental clinical assistant. This profile represents the appropriate code or group that the paralegal is looking for. She therefore determines that this is the appropriate code.

C. Coding an occupation with only the title

Occasionally, the only information you will have in order to assign an NOC code is the title of an occupation. In this case, when there is no way of obtaining additional information, use the NOC Web site “Search the NOC” function to search for the occupational title or for the closest approximation, and use the corresponding NOC code. Be sure to look at possible inversions as well.

When titles do not appear on the Web site, assign an NOC code that reflects as closely as possible the essence of the work. For example, for the title forensic scientist or its inversion scientist, forensic, we would assign a 2 (Natural and applied sciences) for the first digit given that scientist forms part of the occupation title. Secondly, we can assign digit 0 or 1 as the second digit of the code because scientists are classified in Skill Level A of the NOC. There is no major group 20, therefore major group 21 is correct. Thirdly, we narrow our search by looking at the minor groups for Major group 21. We have several options, however, there are two that relate much more to the occupation that we are trying to code: 211 - Physical science professionals and 212 - Life science professionals. At this point, you must exercise your own judgment as to which minor group and unit group you choose.

Remember that the NOC is only as good as the person using it. Guessing should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.

Other Coding Tips:

  • Apprentices are coded in the same group as qualified workers.
  • Residents and articling students are coded in their respective professional groups.
  • Supervisors of professionals are usually classified within the occupational group they supervise, in Skill Level A.
  • Supervisors of other occupations are usually classified in specific unit groups in Skill Level B within the same Skill Type as those supervised.
  • Self-employed construction contractors and supervisors are usually classified as Skill Level B.
  • Management occupations start with 0, and for middle and other management occupations, the second digit (1 to 9) of the major group classification indicates the Skill Type, rather than Skill Level.
  • In certain cases, you may consider the wage that a person is making to help you code their occupation. For example, a person may indicate that they work as a manager in a retail store. If the person is making minimum wage, this may be an indication that the occupation is supervisory rather than managerial.

NOC Challenge

Congratulations, you have completed the NOC Training Tutorial. You are now invited to take The NOC Challenge. Similar to the two quizzes, the NOC Challenge provides you with feedback about your knowledge and ability to apply the NOC.

The NOC Challenge is comprised of 25 multiple-choice questions directly related to what you have learned. While the Challenge is voluntary, we strongly urge you to try it. Other than your name and email address, no other personal information is recorded and your score is only for you to see.

For more information

For additional information about the NOC and related occupational publications, or to obtain NOC information in an alternate format, please contact us:

Labour Market Information (LMI) Division
Temporary Foreign Workers-LMI Directorate
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Place du Portage, Phase IV, 4th Floor
140, promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0J9

Email: noc-cnp@workingincanada.gc.ca