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Critics review and analyze artistic and literary works and live performances. They may communicate their opinions via radio, television, newspapers, magazines, websites, or books.

Also Known As

Dance Critic, Film Critic, Literary Critic, Music Critic, Theatre Critic

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5123: Journalists

2006 NOC-S

  • F023: Journalists

2011 NOC

  • 5123: Journalists

2016 NOC

  • 5123: Journalists

2021 NOC

  • 51113: Journalists

2023 OaSIS

  • 51113.00: Journalists
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Critics review all areas of arts and entertainment: plays, films, books, operas, art exhibits, dance productions, musical recordings, concerts, and nightclub acts. In general, they:

  • Attend performances or exhibits or preview books or recordings
  • Summarize the theme or story
  • Critique the quality of the performance or artistic work based on their judgment, experience, and knowledge
  • Conduct interviews with performers, artists, and writers
  • Educate the public by providing insights and background about the arts

Critics sometimes write or broadcast regular arts and entertainment features. These may include interviews with artists, in-depth analyses of art works, or information about upcoming events or newly releases.

Most critics specialize in one area of the arts such as music, film, or theatre. Some specialize even further. For example, a large newspaper may have different critics for jazz, rock, and classical music. Critics working for smaller employers however may review a wide range of styles.

To keep up to date on trends in arts and entertainment, critics must spend a lot of time reading, building contacts in their industry, and keeping in touch with their contacts.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Critics work evenings, weekends, and holidays to cover performances, exhibits, and events. They may have to write and file reviews late at night, after a performance. Coping with tight deadlines and people who disagree with their reviews can be stressful.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2006 NOC: 5123

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in writing news stories for publication and broadcast; in preparing regular feature columns and stories on specialized topics; in writing editorials and commentaries on topics of current interest; to express the views of publication and broadcasting stations


Interest in diverting to stimulate public interest in current topics; and in arranging for and conducting interviews as part of research and for radio and television programs


Interest in compiling information to receive, analyze and verify news and other copy for accuracy

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Critics need:

  • A strong personal voice and interest in their field
  • Analytical and perceptive skills
  • Research and organizational skills
  • Flexibility in appreciating new techniques and styles in the arts
  • Objectivity and fairness in reviewing both professional and amateur art works
  • The ability to communicate clearly and concisely
  • The ability to handle criticism and the confidence to stand behind their opinions
  • The ability to produce creative, entertaining reviews under deadline pressure

They should enjoy finding innovative ways to express their views and to stimulate public interest and discussion. They should be comfortable being recognized for their specialized knowledge, creativity, and experience.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For


2016 NOC: 5123

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 16 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 01, 2021 and May 24, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Write news stories for publication and broadcast
Tasks: Collect information through interview, investigation and observation
Tasks: Write editorials and commentaries on topics of current interest to stimulate public interest and express the views of a publication or broadcasting station
Tasks: Write critical reviews of literary, musical and other artistic works based on knowledge, judgement and experience
Tasks: Receive, analyze and verify copy for accuracy
Tasks: Arrange for and conduct interviews as part of research, for publication or for broadcast
Technical or specialized writing: Headlines or captions
Work under pressure
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Construction Specialization: Initiative
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education Varies

It is not necessary to have formal training to become a critic. However, most employers prefer to hire experienced print reporters or broadcasters. These candidates often have post-secondary education related to journalism. Critics also are expected to have strong backgrounds in their interest area (such as music, literature, art, or drama). Being able to review several different fields is an advantage, especially for freelance critics and those just getting started. Training or experience in the arts is an asset.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Critics may work for:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Alternative weeklies
  • Radio stations
  • Television stations
  • Internet services

There are relatively few jobs in the field of arts criticism. Competition for employment is keen. Major metropolitan newspapers and large circulation magazines hire a small number of critics as staff writers. They may hire freelance critics to review and comment on specialized areas of the arts. Smaller newspapers and magazines usually employ freelance critics. Staff writers may be expected to cover a range of arts events.

Radio and television stations that have film, theatre, and music reviews as part of their weekly programming may use staff reviewers or freelance critics for these regular features. Freelance critics sell articles and interviews to various print, broadcast, and online media. Sometimes writers are paid each time an article is reproduced, but often they receive a flat rate for all rights to a single article.

It is difficult to get started as a critic or reviewer. Experience might come from writing for campus and community newspapers, doing film or theatre reviews for local cable television stations, or writing website content or blog posts. Aspiring critics should attend as many arts and entertainment functions as possible and keep up to date in their field of interest.

Some critics start out as general reporters or staff writers. They move into a reviewer’s position when one comes open. Established critics can move to larger media outlets. They may also move between jobs in print, radio, and television, or syndicate articles to a chain of newspapers, websites, or broadcast stations.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5123: Journalists occupational group, 87.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5123: Journalists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 9 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2016 NOC: 5123
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5123 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.41 $35.48 $27.98 $29.74
Overall $17.95 $43.34 $34.13 $37.80
Top $20.51 $44.77 $37.56 $39.31

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Canadian Theatre Critics Association (CTCA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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