International Candidates

CAO WEBSITE - about opticians

Practicing in Alberta

In Canada, opticians must register with their provincial regulatory body to legally practice opticianry. Internationally-trained opticians may apply for registration by completing a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) program.

Registration Steps

  • 1. Learn About Becoming an Optician in Canada

  • 2. Complete the NACOR PLAR Program

  • 3. Apply for Provisional Registration in Alberta

  • 4. Pass the NACOR Examination

  • 5. Complete Final Application Requirements

1. Becoming an Optician

The Opticians Council of Canada offers information about immigrating, registering, and practicing as an optician in Canada on the Become an Optician website. If you are an internationally-trained optician and have questions about working in Canada, this is the place to start. 

On the Become an Optician site, you will learn about optician and alternate career paths in Canada and the registration process to practice as an optician. You can also review job opportunities on the Become an Optician job board. 

If you are interested in learning more about opticians in Alberta, visit the Government of Alberta’s Occupational Profile page. The Government of Alberta also offers information and resources if you are considering immigrating to Alberta.

2. NACOR PLAR Program

The PLAR program assesses the applicant’s knowledge, skills, and experience through a document review, Competency Gap Analysis (CGA), and Case-Based Interview (CBI). The CGA is a supervised online multiple-choice assessment and the CBI is conducted either in person or remotely. Both the CGA and CBI are based on the National Competencies for Canadian Opticians.

The PLAR process is administered by the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR). To begin the process, complete the NACOR PLAR Application Form and return it to the NACOR office by mail. Applicants are required to provide the following with their application form:

  • Applicant information
  • Contact information
  • Registration information
  • Details of work experience (Dispensing Experience and Fittings Form)
  • Transcripts of formal education including course outlines
  • Letters of personal reference and professional competence
  • English language proficiency test results
  • If available:
    • ICES, IQAS, or WES credential evaluations 
    • Certification exam results from other countries 
    • Letter of registration or licensure in other countries 
  • PLAR program fee payment
  • 2 passport-sized photos

Once you have completed the PLAR program, NACOR will send your results to the College of Opticians of Alberta (COA). You will receive an email from COA Staff with your results. If any gaps are identified in this process, bridging modules may be assigned to upgrade your skills and knowledge to meet the national competencies.

The NAOCR PLAR Program and bridging modules can be completed prior to arriving in Canada.

3. Provisional Registration

Once you have completed the PLAR program, you are eligible to apply for provisional registration in Alberta and work as an optician under supervision. Complete the Provisional Registration Package to apply.  Applicants are required to provide the following with their application form:

  • Applicant information
  • Contact information
  • Registration information
  • Criminal record check
  • Declaration of good character
  • Supervisor information
  • Provisional optician fee payment
  • 1 passport-sized photo

Visit our Provisional Registration page for more information.

4. NACOR Examination

Once you have successfully passed the NACOR Exam(s)you are eligible to practice as an optician in Alberta. 

You may register as a Registered Optician (RO) after passing the Optical Sciences 1 – Eyeglass Examination and a Registered Contact Lens Practitioner (RCLP) after passing the Optical Sciences 2 – Contact Lens Examination. To apply to write the exam, complete the NACOR Exam Application Form and return it to the NACOR office.

The Opticians Association of Canada offers NACOR Exam preparation sessions

5. Final Application Requirements

When the COA receives your results from NACOR, you will receive an email from COA staff with information on next steps. If you received a passing mark on the exam, you will be required to complete the following:

  • Obtain the necessary amount of professional liability insurance to practice in Alberta
  • Complete mandatory Code of Conduct jurisprudence modules
  • Complete mandatory training to Protect Patients from Sexual Abuse and Misconduct
  • Pay registered optician fee 

After all registration requirements are met, you will notified of your successful registration and receive your certificate via regular mail. 

Timelines and Fees

The timeline to initial decision on your application is 2-4 months, including the PLAR program and application for provisional registration. Individual timelines will vary based on whether any bridging modules are assigned. 

The timeline to complete your full application and achieve registration as an RO/RCLP is approximately 6 months, including completion of the NACOR exam(s) which are held twice a year in Alberta.

Registration Step

Timeline

Fees

PLAR Program: Document Review

PLAR Program: Gap Analysis and Interview

1-3 months

$225 + tax

$650 + tax

PLAR Program: Bridging Modules

Self-Directed (no time limit)

$100 + tax/bridging module

Provisional Registration

2 weeks

See current fees

NACOR Examination

2 months

$750 + tax (Eyeglass Exam)

$750 + tax (Contact Lens Exam)

Registered Optician (RO)

Registered Contact Lens Practitioner (RCLP)

2 weeks (after completing all registration requirements)

See current fees

Appeal Process

The COA Registrar approves applications for registration in accordance with the requirements set out in the Health Professions Act of Alberta and the Optician Profession Regulation. If your registration application is not approved, you may appeal the decision to the COA Registration and Competence Committee by emailing info@albertaopticians.ca

Contact Information

Please contact info@albertaopticians.ca if you have any questions or require assistance with your application.