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What is a Skilled Job for Canadian Immigration Purposes?

There are different ways that someone can immigrate to Canada and moving to Canada as a skilled worker is one of these pathways. In a previous blog post, we discussed the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, and why it is important for a successful application. In this blog post, we will be discussing why the NOC is important when figuring out what a skilled job is.

So, what is the NOC? The NOC stands for National Occupational Classification. Canadian jobs are grouped in the system based on the job duties and job description the person does in that occupation. Each job is given a unique numeric code and can be found through the NOC website. Jobs are categorized by skill type or level: Skill Type 0 (zero), Skill Level A, Skill Level B, Skill Level C, and Skill Level D.

  • Skill Type 0 – Managerial jobs
  • Skill Level A – Professional jobs
  • Skill Level B – Technical jobs
  • Skill Level C – Semi-skilled jobs
  • Skill Level D – Unskilled jobs

So, why is this relevant to what a skilled job is? Well, to be considered as having a skilled job for immigration purposes, your job must be categorized as Skill Level 0, A, or B. Skill level C or D jobs are not skilled work and do not qualify as so, for an immigration application.

To find out the NOC for your job, you can visit the NOC website and search for your job. If you already know the NOC and are looking for the job title and description, you just have to search for the NOC code.

If you do not know the NOC for your job, you can search for your job title. For example, a secondary school teacher has the NOC code 4031, and the title of “secondary school teachers”. When you research the job in the NOC, you will see the job’s main duties, job description, and what skill level the job is. For the NOC 4031, the skill level is A. So, someone who is a secondary school teacher does have a skilled job and it qualifies as skilled work experience on their immigration application.

Of course, a matching NOC job title is required to know if your current occupation is a skilled job, but that is not the only thing necessary to research. Your current occupation must also match the job description, main duties, employment requirements, and any additional information. Your job must not be included in the list of exclusions; this could affect the skill level of your job.

Let’s go back to our secondary school teacher example. To qualify for NOC 4031, you must match the job description, “prepare and teach academic, technical, vocational or specialized subjects at public and private secondary schools. Secondary school teachers who are heads of departments are included in this unit group.”

In addition to the job description, you must perform some or all of the job duties listed. For NOC 4031, these include preparing subject material for students, assigning and correcting homework, and prepare, administer, or correct tests. Further, NOC 4031 jobs also have requirements such as a bachelor’s degree in education and other requirements for specialized education. So, the moral of the story here is that you must match all aspects of the NOC code to qualify for that job and to have a skilled job for immigration purposes.

Skilled Jobs and Express Entry Programs

Let’s tie NOC skilled jobs to actually immigrating to Canada. The NOC is an important part of immigration, especially if you are applying as a skilled worker. As mentioned above, a skilled job needs to have a NOC of 0, A, or B. In addition to this requirement, if you are applying as a skilled worker under one of the Express Entry programs, you must create an Express Entry profile to apply. Under the Express Entry system, you can apply under the:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP),
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), or
  • The Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

You must be eligible for one of these Express Entry programs to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Each program has its own respective requirements that need to be met, but they all have the requirements of skilled work in common. The other factors that will determine your Express Entry eligibility include your knowledge in either English and/or French, education, work experience, and other factors.

Now we will briefly go over the other factors, other than work experience, that determine your Express Entry eligibility. Regarding your knowledge in English and/or French, you will need to take an approved language test, achieve the minimum results required for the program, and include these results when you submit your Express Entry profile. Approved language tests that you can take include the CELPIP, IELTS, TEF Canada, and TCF Canada.

Another factor for Express Entry is your education. It can lead to extra points if you choose to submit proof of your education for the other programs. If you have a Canadian degree, diploma, or certificate from a Canadian secondary or post-secondary school, you will not need an assessment. However, if you completed your education outside of Canada, you would need to do an educational credential assessment (ECA). In order to get points for education, the ECA must show that your foreign credential is valid and equal to a completed Canadian secondary school or post-secondary credential.

The additional points include:

  • Any Canadian degrees, diplomas, or certificates;
  • A valid job offer;
  • A nomination from a province or territory;
  • A brother or sister living in Canada who is a permanent residence or a citizen; and
  • Strong French language skills.

Let’s do a deep dive into the next requirement: work experience. This is where your skilled job comes into play in your Express Entry application. Again, each of the Express Entry programs has different qualifications, but they all require skilled work experience to qualify for the program.

The CEC program requires at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada in the last three years before your application. The FSW program requires at least one year of continuous skilled work experience that has the same NOC as the job you are using for your application, is paid work, and has been worked within the last 10 years. Lastly, the FST program requires two years of skilled work experience in a skilled trade within the last five years.

A skilled job under the FST is different from the other two Express Entry programs. All skilled trades jobs are recognized as skill type B and are broken down into the following groups: 

  • Major Group 72 – Industrial, electrical, construction trades
  • Major Group 72 – Maintenance and equipment operation trades
  • Major Group 82 – Supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related production
  • Major Group 92 – Processing, manufacturing, and utilities supervisors and central control operators
  • Minor Group 632 – Chefs and cooks
  • Minor Group 633 – Butchers and bakers

It is not only important to know what qualifies as skilled work, but also how many hours must be worked per week for that skilled job. All the Express Entry jobs follow the same rule regarding full-time work. You must work full-time for the required number of years in your job for it to count as work for an Express Entry program.

With that said, another common question we get is, “What about part-time work?” The good thing is that part-time skilled work can count towards work experience. Part-time work has to be equivalent to full-time work, which is 30 hours a week. For example, for the FSW program, you must have one year of full-time work experience: 30 hours per week for one year = 1,560 hours. The equivalent of part-time hours is: 15 hours per week for two years = 1,560 hours. It is extremely important to make sure your part-time work is equivalent to the required full-time work. Even if you have a skilled job, if you do not have the experience in that job, it will not constitute work experience for Express Entry.

So, how does your skilled work experience affect your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score? Your work experience can affect your CRS score in many ways, by rewarding points for your work experience in your foreign country or Canada; how many years of experience you have; and the combination of points in the skills transferability points section. Depending on how many years of experience you have, you can get up to 50 points for foreign work experience with your language score and another 50 points for foreign work experience with Canadian work experience. But, keep in mind, this foreign work experience must be skilled work, or it does not count and could strongly affect your CRS score.

A Final Word

Hopefully, this brief summary explains what qualifies as a skilled worker for immigration purposes and how a skilled job affects Express Entry programs and their requirements. As you can see, Express Entry can be a complicated process, and it’s important to understand the work experience requirements for Express Entry and each of the prospective programs.

Should you have any questions about the content in this article or to see if you are considered a skilled worker, feel free to reach out and we will be more than happy to speak with you some more about this and any other immigration issues that you might need answers to.


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