Industry Codes

Published: Jul 4, 2011
Last Updated: Feb 1, 2016
Print Full Guide

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.

Here Are Some Relevant Categories:

Code Description
NAICS 41 Wholesale Trade
NAICS 411 Farm Product Wholesaler-Distributors 
NAICS 412 Petroleum Product Wholesaler-Distributors 
NAICS 413 Food, Beverage and Tobacco Wholesaler-Distributors 
NAICS 414 Personal and Household Goods Wholesaler-Distributors
NAICS 415 Motor Vehicle and Parts Wholesaler-Distributors
NAICS 416 Building Material and Supplies Wholesaler-Distributors
NAICS 417 Machinery, Equipment and Supplies Wholesaler-Distributors
NAICS 418 Miscellaneous Wholesaler-Distributors
NAICS 419 Wholesale Electronic Markets, and Agents and Brokers
SIC 50 Wholesale Trade - Durable Goods
SIC 51 Wholesale Trade - Nondurable Goods 

»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.