Non-Accredited Education

COA Separation

Applying with Non-Accredited Education

Canadian and international applicants who have not graduated from an accredited opticianry program may still be eligible to write the NACOR exam(s). These candidates may apply by completing a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) program.

Registration Steps

  • 1. Complete the NACOR PLAR process

  • 2. Apply for provisional registration in Alberta

  • 3. Pass the NACOR Examination(s)

  • 4. Complete final application requirements

1. NACOR PLAR Program

The PLAR process assesses the applicant’s knowledge, skills, and experience through a document review, Competency Gap Analysis (CGA), and national examination(s). The CGA is a supervised multiple-choice assessment that is conducted virtually and can be completed by applicants online from their home country if they are not currently residing in Canada. The CGA evaluates applicants’ strengths and weaknesses based on the National Competencies for Canadian Opticians

PLAR is administered by the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR). To begin the process, complete the NACOR PLAR Application Package and return by email to 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 
    • Professional examination results from other countries 
    • Letter of registration or licensure in other countries 
  • PLAR program fee payment
  • Two passport photos Indication of what areas you want to be licensed in (eyeglasses, contact lenses, automated refracting)
  • Next you will complete the PLAR Skills Assessment Competency Gap Analysis (CGA), which consists of three sections in two areas of competency: 
  1. Dispensing Optician
    • Professional Practice – 120 questions/two-hour time limit 
    • Eyeglasses and Low Vision – 165 questions/2.5-hour time limit
  2. Contact Lens Fitter
    • Contact Lenses – 140 questions/two-hour time limit

The CGA will help determine gaps in your knowledge and indicate any areas you need to improve in (note: it is not a pass or fail test). Click here to learn more about the competencies assessed in each area of the CGA.

Once you’ve completed the PLAR CGA, 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 before you will be eligible to complete the NACOR Examination(s).

2. 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
  • One passport photo

Visit our Provisional Registration page for more information.

3. 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 by email to

The Opticians Association of Canada offers NACOR Exam preparation sessions

4. 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.

Timeline 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



PLAR Program: Document Review

PLAR Program: Gap Analysis and Interview

1-3 months

$250 + tax

$350 per competency area (x2 areas) = $700 + tax

PLAR Program: Bridging Modules

Self-Directed (no time limit)

$100 + tax/bridging module

Provisional Registration

2 weeks

See current fees

NACOR Examination

Exam Dates

$775 + tax (Eyeglass Exam)

$775 + tax (Contact Lens Exam)

$1,550 + taxes (Eyeglass & Contact Lens Examinations)

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

Contact Information

Please contact if you have any questions or require assistance with your application.