Jobs People
The New NOC Classification is Coming

Posted on 24/10/2021

The NOC is changing their classification structure. A new NOC 2021 will be out soon.

Why should you care?

Anyone thinking of immigrating to Canada as a skilled worker or skilled trades person has to use the National Occupational Classification (NOC) in order to describe their job skills and work experience. In other words, if you apply through Express Entry, you’ll have to use Canada’s NOC to find and describe your current (and perhaps previous) occupation. It’s a key part of submitting your profile to Express Entry and joining a pool of candidates for the chance of getting a permanent resident visa in your passport and moving to Canada as a foreign skilled worker or skilled tradesperson.

So, you’d best become familiar with the coming changes because if you are unfamiliar with the new classification system, you risk choosing the wrong NOC job classification for your skills and experience and risk delaying or even derailing your application at Express Entry.

Think of the NOC like the library catalogue system for the many types of jobs that exist in a diverse economy like Canada’s that has occupations in everything from aerospace to agriculture and from front-end developers to back-end loaders sitting in a warehouse waiting for a driver who knows how to operate them.

I: Why is the NOC system being changed?

The NOC is put together by Statistics Canada and ESDC (Employment & Social Development Canada) and is meant to be a data base for both workers of all skill levels and for employers across all sectors of the economy. It’s also used by the government in setting economic, educational, vocational and even social policy. Who’s working where is a key data set for anyone interested in assuring that Canada’s economy remains strong.

Let’s review the reasons given for the changes and then we’ll look at the changes themselves.

In their news release, Statistics Canada lists several reasons for the change:

  • The new classification system will make the distribution of occupations across the various categories more balanced. We’ll explain this further below.
  • The new system will hopefully capture the differences in requirements between occupations in a more accurate and less confusing way.
  • The new system will be easier to understand when it comes to the skill levels required for any given occupation.

The current system (NOC 2016) has 4 skill levels: A, B, C, & D. The new system will have 6 TEER (Training, Education, Experience, Responsibilities) levels: TEER Category 0 through TEER Category 5. Here’s how occupations in Canada are and will be distributed according to both these classification systems:

NOC 2016
Skill level A 28%
Skill level B 42%
Skill level C 24%
Skill level D  6%

As you can see, nearly half of all occupations fall under Skill level B with the NOC 2016 classification system. This is what drove Statistics Canada and ESDC to try and expand and modify the categories so that you wouldn’t have nearly half of all jobs lumped in one skill level.

Here’s the new system:

NOC 2021
TEER Category 0  9%
TEER Category 1 19%
TEER Category 2 31%
TEER Category 3 14%
TEER Category 4 18%
TEER Category 5  9%

So, you can see how occupations are distributed more evenly under the new system which should help both job seekers and employers in deciding what skill levels are associated with any given job and more importantly, the differences in skill levels needed between different jobs.

II: What are the changes?

Now let’s talk about the categories in the current and the new system.

NOC 2016 Skill level A – requires a university degree
Skill level B – requires post-secondary education (2 or 3 years); Or 2 to 5 years apprenticeship training; Or several years secondary school PLUS at least 2 years of on-the-job training and/or occupation-specific training; it also includes occupations with supervisory responsibilities and occupations with significant health and safety responsibilities like police, firefighters, or licensed practical nurses. Skill level C – requires high school and short-term occupational training or less than 2 years of on-the-job training.
Skill level D – requires no formal education and some on-the-job training  


NOC 2021 TEER Category 0 – Management
TEER Category 1 – University Degree; Or previous experience and expertise in Category 2 occupation TEER Category 2 – Post-secondary Degree (2 or 3 years); Or apprenticeship training 2 to 5 years; Or Supervisory or Safety responsibilities; Or 3 years previous experience in related Category 3 occupation
TEER Category 3 – Post-secondary (less than 2 years); Or apprenticeship training less than 2 years; Or more than 6 months on-the-job or occupation-specific training; Or several years previous experience in related Category 4 occupation TEER Category 4 – Secondary school; Or some on-the-job training with some secondary school; Or some experience in Category 5 occupation
TEER Category 5 – Short work demonstration and no formal requirements  

Essentially, NOC 2021 divides the NOC 2016 Skill level B into 2 categories – TEER Category 2 and TEER Category 3. So, if under the current system you’re in Skill B your occupation might be in either TEER Category 2 or TEER Category 3.

Otherwise, the change doesn’t affect your job classification that much. Let’s review what the changes might mean in terms of how an occupation will be classified compared to how it used to be classified.

NOC 2016 NOC 2021
Skill Type 0 TEER Category 0
Skill level A TEER Category 1
Skill level B TEER Category 2 or TEER Category 3
Skill level C TEER Category 3 or TEER Category 4
Skill level D TEER Category 5

In the end, whether it’s NOC 2016 or NOC 2021, you still will have to use the NOC in basically the same fashion. Find the occupational classification that most closely resembles the occupation you currently have and perhaps your previous occupation, although this isn’t normally required. You’ll need it to submit a profile to Express Entry and your future employers in Canada need it in order to see if you have the experience for the job they’re offering.

As the new system becomes fully functional, we’ll bring you the latest news, so stay tuned.

Posted in News Tips and tagged EE, ESDC, National Occupational Classification, NOC 2021

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