Industry Codes

Published: Mar 12, 2012
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2016
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The North American Industry Classification System

At the start of your research, it may not be clear what specific industry you should be examining. A good strategy is to find out if your business idea is classified in an industrial classification system. These systems organize industries by assigning them a numeric code. The most commonly used system is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  Once you know your Industry Classification Code you can use this number to:

  • Find industry-specific statistics on government websites or in library databases
  • Generate lists of competitors in company directories

Another common classification system is the Standard Industry Code (SIC). NAICS have most replaced the SIC, but the SIC is still used by some commercial databases. Finding and using these classification systems to effectively search can be tricky, so don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help.

»Search or browse all NAICS or SIC codes on the NAICS Association website. Some NAICS codes are different in Canada, you can search by keyword or browse Canadian NAICS codes at Statistics Canada or Canadian Industry Statistics. To search for a SIC code using a NAICS code and vice-versa use the NAICS & SIC Crosswalks.   

For more information about planning your industry research and industry codes, check out the video tutorial for Module 3: Planning Your Industry Research.


Here Are Some Relevant Categories:

Type Code Description
NAICS 511210 Software Publishers
NAICS 541510 Computer Systems Design and Related Services
NAICS 334410 Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing
NAICS 541330 Engineering Services
NAICS 541710 Biotechnology Research and Development
SIC 3351 Telecommunication Equipment Industry



Check out this BC stats report that outlines the complexity of defining the BC high tech sector by SIC and NAICS codes: Defining the British Columbia High Technology Sector Using NAICS (December 2001). A joint project of BC STATS and the Ministry of Competition, Science & Enterprise BC.