Work: How to Learn About Your Occupation in Canada

By Efim Cheinis

The majority of Canadian immigrants are university, college or trade school graduates and have years of work experience. Is it necessary to start your professional career in Canada from the very beginning? Not at all!

Many newcomers may continue working in their trades in Canada. But, to do so successfully you have to be prepared and do your homework. What does this mean? First of all you need to carefully learn about the Canadian job market and find out how your occupation is classified. You also have to research educational and employment requirements needed to continue your career in Canada.

The best way to gather all of this information is by getting acquainted with the official Canadian trade directory - National Occupational Classification (NOC). Ask for NOC in libraries or at Employment Resource Centers and you will get 2 books. The first is called “National Occupational Classification. Index of Titles”. There are almost 40,000 Canadian jobs, listed alphabetically, in this small book. Each occupation is followed by a unique four-digit code. Look for your job title if you know it, and you will find your occupational code. Then, take the second book, “National Occupational Classification. Occupational Description” and using the code from the Index of Titles, find your occupational description, which includes:

  • industries and workplaces where the occupation is found,
  • examples of titles which are commonly used within the group,
  • the most significant duties of this occupation,
  • educational and employment requirements.

If you do not know exactly what your job title is, look in the second book. You will find 10 types of skills:

  1. Management occupations
  2. Business, finance and administration (such as accountants, secretaries, office clerks)
  3. Natural and applied sciences (engineers, technicians, technologists, etc.)
  4. Health (physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dentists)
  5. Social science, education, government service and religion (lawyers, teachers, social workers, ministers of religion, paralegals)
  6. Art, culture, recreation and sport (Librarians, Journalists, Musicians, Graphic Designers, Coaches)
  7. Sales and service (Retail and Wholesale People, Insurance and Real Estate Representatives, Cooks, Barbers, Cashiers, Cleaners, Babysitters)
  8. Trades, transport and equipment operators (Machinists, Tool and Die Makers, Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenters, Mechanics, Drivers)
  9. Occupations unique to primary industry (Farmers, Oil, Gas and Mine Workers)
  10. Occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities (Machine Operators, Assemblers, Laborers)

By choosing your type of skill you will find the first digit of the appropriate code.

The second digit of NOC code indicates skill level. There are 6 skill levels in NOC: 1 - university degree, 2 or 3 - college education or apprenticeship training, 4 or 5 - secondary school and/or occupation-specific training, and 6 - on-the-job training.

The third digit indicates group of occupations and the fourth digit indicates job title.

For example, “Industrial Electricians” job title in NOC is code 7242, which means: skill type 7 (Trades, transport and equipment operators), skill level 2 (College education or apprenticeship training), occupational group 4 (Electrical Trades and Telecommunication Occupations) and job title 2 (Industrial Electricians). So, knowing the code, you will find answers for the most of your questions using the second book.

The same information may be found on the Internet using the following address: http://www23.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/2001/e/generic/welcome.shtml. (Or use a search engine such as Google, enter NOC and locate the site.)

To see a more detailed description of your occupation, you have to look at provincial websites. Open, for example, at the Ontario site type your job title and click “Find”. In addition to NOC common job descriptions, you will also find Ontario employment rate, annual income, hourly wage, statistical data, regulatory bodies, etc.

Once you learn your NOC occupation description, you can specify the correct job title in your resume and use it for search of vacancies in various job banks. Good luck!

CNM