Detailed guide to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and its role in the immigration system in Canada.
For many, immigrating to Canada is a dream, but to achieve it, you have to go through several steps and meet very specific criteria. One of the most important elements in this journey is the NOC , a database that is used to classify and rate thousands of different occupations in Canada .

In 2021 , the NOC underwent a major update , with notable changes such as the transition from 4-digit codes to 5-digit codes and the introduction of the FEER system ( Training, Studies, Experience and Responsibilities ). These changes have a direct impact on candidates for the Express Entry system and other Canadian immigration programs, making it even more essential to understand this new system.

The goal of this article is simple: to help you demystify the NOC. We will look at its history, its different categories, its role in the Express Entry immigration system, and, above all, how you can identify the NOC code that best matches your professional profile. Accurately identifying your CNP code can mean the difference between a successful immigration application and months of delays or denials.

What is the CNP?

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is the most widely used occupational classification system in Canada. Created by Statistics Canada, this system provides a standardized framework that groups and describes more than 30,000 job titles into 500 unit groups, thus providing detailed information on the labor market at the national level.

Definition of NOC

The NOC is designed as a hierarchical structure that organizes occupations based on criteria such as skills, training, experience and responsibilities associated with each position. The NOC not only lists occupations, but also provides detailed descriptions of each position, including associated duties, necessary skills, and other attributes. This helps provide a uniform framework that helps make meaningful comparisons across different jobs and industries.

Role in the Canadian economy

The NOC is a versatile tool that serves a variety of purposes within the Canadian economy. It is used for:

  • Analyze the labor market: The NOC provides data for analyzing labor market trends, employment forecasting, and planning workforce needs.
  • Academic Research: Researchers in the social sciences and economics use the NOC to study issues such as income inequality, occupational mobility, and training needs.
  • Policy development: Policymakers use the NOC to design and evaluate employment, training and education policies.

Its role in immigration programs

The NOC also plays an important role in the Canadian immigration system, particularly in programs like Express Entry. Express Entry is an immigration application management system for skilled workers who wish to settle in Canada. In this context, CNP codes are used to:

  • Assess Eligibility: The NOC code corresponding to the applicant’s job determines whether they are eligible for Express Entry or other immigration programs.
  • Point Allocation: CNP codes help calculate an applicant’s CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) score, which in turn influences their chances of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence.
  • Job matching: Canadian employers also use NOC codes to identify foreign candidates who could fill skills shortages in certain fields.

CNP 2021 vs CNP 2016: What changes

One of the most significant updates to immigration to Canada was the update of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) in 2021. This update, which replaces the 2016 version, brings several notable changes that the immigration candidates absolutely must know. Here are some of the most significant changes:

  • Change to five digits for CNP Codes : The old 4-digit CNP codes have been replaced by 5-digit codes. This allows for a more precise and detailed classification of occupations.
  • Introduction of the FEER System : The classification system by skill levels (0, A, B, C and D) has been replaced by the FEER system, which is based on Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities. The new categories are FEER 0 to FEER 5 and are more detailed regarding the qualifications required for each profession.
  • Revision of Descriptions and Tasks : The job descriptions and tasks associated with each NOC code have been revised to better reflect changes in the labor market.
  • Updated Express Entry Profile : Since November 16, 2022, all candidates for the Express Entry program must use the 2021 version of the NOC. This is required to remain eligible to receive an invitation to apply.
  • R ealignment of Provincial Immigration Programs : Many provincial immigration programs that use the NOC have also been updated to align with the new categories and codes.

Considering these changes is essential for anyone looking to immigrate to Canada, as misclassification can affect not only your eligibility but also your CRS points under the Express Entry system.

Categories and Major Categories CNP

The National Occupational Classification has been structured to provide a comprehensive and organized view of the labor market in Canada. With the 2021 update, the CNP system adopted a new structure focused on Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (FEER), replacing the old structure of skill levels (CNP 0, A, B , C, and D).

The Major FEER Categories (0 to 5)

The new six-category structure, FEER 0 to FEER 5, is designed to more accurately represent the level of training, education, experience and responsibilities required to practice an occupation. Here is an overview:

  • FEER 0 : These are management positions, which encompass high responsibilities and great autonomy in decision-making.
  • FEER 1 : This category includes professions generally requiring a university degree.
  • FEER 2 : Occupations in this category generally require a college diploma, an apprenticeship of two years or more, or supervisory duties.
  • FEER 3 : These are professions generally requiring a college diploma, an apprenticeship of less than two years, or on-the-job training of more than six months.
  • FEER 4: This category includes occupations often requiring a high school diploma, or on-the-job training lasting several weeks.
  • FEER 5 : These are professions generally requiring short-term work demonstration and no education.

Group Structure

Under these broad categories, the NOC is divided into three additional levels:

  1. Main Groups : These are the major professional fields, such as “Health”, “Engineering”, or “Teaching”, which contain several similar or related professions.
  2. Minor Groups : Within each major group, occupations are grouped into minor groups, which are sets of occupations closely related by the nature of the work.
  3. Basic Group Units : At the most detailed level, each minor group is subdivided into basic group units, which identify specific occupations.

This multi-level system allows for very detailed and targeted classification, making it easier not only to analyze the labor market but also to accurately identify the skills and qualifications needed for each job.

By understanding these different categories and how they are structured, you can more effectively navigate the complex NOC system, which is important for success in the Canadian immigration system.

NOC and Express Entry: What you need to know

The Express Entry system is an online platform that manages applications for permanent residence in Canada for three federal economic programs: the Canadian Experience Class, the Skilled Worker Program (federal) and the Skilled Trades Program (federal ). The NOC plays an important role in helping to evaluate and rank candidates according to their skills and experience. Here’s what you need to know:

Role of the NOC in Express Entry

Under the Express Entry system, your NOC code determines your eligibility for one of the federal economic immigration programs. Additionally, your NOC code influences the number of points you can earn in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which is used to rank applicants in the Express Entry pool.

Eligibility criteria based on NOC codes

To be eligible for Express Entry, your professional experience must correspond to a CNP code of FEER category 0, 1, 2 or 3. Here is how this translates:

  • FEER 0 : Generally eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
  • FEER 1 : Eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program and sometimes for the Canadian Experience Class, if Canadian experience is relevant.
  • FEER 2 and 3 : Eligible for the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class, based on Canadian work experience.

Please note that some provincial programs may have specific criteria regarding NOC codes. Therefore, it is advisable to also check the requirements of provincial programs.

Importance of CRS points and job offers

Your NOC code doesn’t just affect your eligibility; it also plays a role in the number of CRS points you can earn. For example, a job offer from a Canadian employer in a FEER 0 or 1 occupation may earn you additional points in the CRS system.

Additionally, even if you don’t have a job offer, some provinces use the Express Entry system to select candidates based on specific labor market needs, often identified by NOC codes. If you are selected by a province, you receive additional CRS points, increasing your chances of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

How to Identify your CNP Code

Identifying the NOC code that matches your work experience is an important step to succeeding in the Canadian immigration system, particularly under Express Entry. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Here’s how to do it:

Steps to find the correct CNP code

  1. Check the CNP Database : Start by accessing the official CNP website, where you will find a detailed database of CNP codes, updated to the 2021 version.
  2. Search for your Profession : Use the search tools to find occupations that seem similar to yours. Write down several NOC codes that seem relevant.
  3. Read the Descriptions and Tasks : For each NOC code that appears to match your occupation, carefully read the main description and the list of associated tasks.
  4. Compare with your Experience : Evaluate how the tasks and responsibilities listed match your own professional experience.
  5. Confirm with Additional Resources : If you’re still unsure, check other resources, such as job descriptions, or seek advice from an immigration expert.

Importance of focusing on tasks rather than job titles

It is essential not to rely solely on your CNP code title or your current or previous job title. The Canadian immigration system (IRCC) places much more importance on the tasks and responsibilities performed within the framework of your employment than on the title itself. When submitting your proof of work experience, be sure to include a detailed list of tasks you have performed. IRCC will compare these tasks to those associated with your NOC code to verify your eligibility.

More tips for finding your CNP in the list

Here are some additional tips to help you accurately identify your CNP from the list:

1. Start with the general before going specific :

When browsing the list, start with the general categories to see where your profession might fit. Once you have identified a relevant category or group, you can then refine your search.

2. Use keywords :

If you consult the NOC list online or on software that allows it, use the search function to enter keywords related to your occupation. This can help you quickly locate relevant NOCs.

3. Don’t just rely on the title :

Even if an occupation title seems to fit your situation, be sure to read the descriptions, main duties, and examples to confirm that it is the right NOC for you.

4. Consult several NOCs :

There may be several NOC codes that seem relevant to your occupation. In this case, consult them all, compare their descriptions, and choose the one that best suits your current situation.

5. Ask for help :

If you have any doubts or uncertainties, do not hesitate to consult an expert or someone with experience in the field. This could be an immigration consultant, a career advisor, or even a potential employer.

6. Update yourself :

The NOC list is updated regularly to reflect changes in occupations and industries. Be sure to check the most recent version when searching for your NOC.

7. Think about equivalence :

If you have practiced a profession in another country, it may have an equivalent in Canada that differs slightly in terms of responsibilities or qualifications. Be sure to take this into account when researching your CNP.

8. Note the details :

When you have identified a NOC that seems appropriate, note all relevant details, including the title, code, and description. You may need it for subsequent procedures.

Finding the right CNP may require a little time and research, but it is an essential step in ensuring that your steps are based on accurate information. By following these tips, you will be better equipped to identify the CNP that best fits your profession.

By taking the time to find the CNP code that most precisely matches your professional experience, you put all the chances on your side for successful immigration to Canada.

Eligibility for other immigration programs

Express Entry is not the only immigration program in Canada that uses the National Occupational Classification (NOC) . Indeed, several provincial and territorial programs as well as employer-specific immigration programs may also require a match to a NOC code. Here’s an overview of these alternatives and how the NOC may impact your eligibility.

Provincial and territorial immigration programs

Many provinces and territories in Canada have agreements with the federal government that allow them to select immigrants based on their specific labor needs. These Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) often have specific criteria related to NOC codes. For example, a province may search for workers in fields such as health, technology or agriculture and specify NOC codes that are eligible for their program.

Employer-based programs

Some Canadian immigration programs are directly linked to a job offer from a specific employer. In these cases, the employer must generally demonstrate that it cannot find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position, identified by a specific NOC code, before offering the position to a foreign candidate.

Other specific programs

There are also programs for specific groups, such as refugees, intra-company transferees, and international students. Although the NOC is not always directly used in these cases, having experience in an occupation that is in demand (according to NOC codes) can be an asset.

How the NOC can influence eligibility

In all of these programs, the choice of CNP code can have a significant impact on your eligibility and your chances of success. Each program has its own criteria and requirements, and some are more flexible than others when it comes to CNP codes accepted. By understanding how your NOC code aligns with the labor needs of a province or employer, you can more effectively target your immigration efforts.

The NOC is a versatile tool that serves as the basis for several immigration pathways to Canada. Although Express Entry is the most popular and well-known route, there are a variety of other programs where your CNP code can play an important role in your eligibility. It is therefore recommended to have a good understanding of the NOC and its application in the broader context of Canadian immigration.

What to do next?

After identifying your NOC code and evaluating your options for immigration programs, it’s time to take action. This section will focus on the next steps to ensure your Express Entry profile is up to date and how to provide appropriate evidence of your work experience.

Express Entry Profile Update

  1. Profile Access : Log in to your Express Entry account to access your profile.
  2. Update CNP : Locate the section that asks for details about your work experience and update the CNP code that you identified as most relevant.
  3. Review Information : Make sure all other information in your profile is also up to date, including work experience, education, and language skills.
  4. Save and Submit : Once you are satisfied that all information is accurate and up to date, save the changes and resubmit your profile if necessary.

Provide Proof of Professional Experience

It is essential that you can support your work experience with adequate documentation. This may include:

  • Letters of recommendation from your previous or current employers, describing your duties, length of employment, and other relevant details.
  • Pay slips, employment contracts or tax certificates.
  • Any other documentation that can prove work experience in the CNP code you selected.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is very strict on the quality and verifiability of the evidence provided, so be sure to follow all documentation advice and recommendations.


Identifying and selecting the correct NOC code are important steps in the process of immigrating to Canada. The National Occupational Classification not only serves as a guide to understanding the structure of the Canadian labor market, but it also plays a key role in various immigration programs, including the Express Entry system.

By following a methodical process to identify the correct NOC code, regularly updating your Express Entry profile, and providing adequate evidence of your work experience, you can greatly increase your chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence. Additionally, the NOC may also open doors for other immigration programs, depending on the specific labor needs of provinces or employers.

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