Time for a Change?
Are you interested in science, math, business, or fashion? Do you have experience in optics? Are looking for a rewarding career as a health care professional? Opticianry might be right for you!
When you’re an optician, you get options. You can be a business owner, a fashion advisor, or master the technical side of optics: manufacturing glasses. Whatever path you choose, you will be sure to find satisfaction knowing that you are establishing yourself in an essential profession.
There are two options for becoming an optician:
Option 1 – PLAR
If you have a background in optics or health care, you may be eligible to become an optician through the PLAR process.
PLAR stands for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition and is a process that allows applicants who have not been educated in an accredited Canadian institution the opportunity to become a licensed optician.
Each province handles PLAR a little differently; the following is a general outline of what you can expect from the process.
- Competency Gap Analysis
- Review of Results
For more detailed information about each of these steps, visit the PLAR page of this website.
Option 2 – Accredited Post-Secondary Institutions
If you do not have a background in optics or health care but think opticianry might be a good fit for you, you will need to apply to an accredited institution that offers optician training.
Accredited programs are available at the following institutions:
For more information about optician training in Canada, visit the Education of Opticians in Canada page on this website.
Test Your Knowledge
To be an effective optician in Canada, many different skills and abilities (called “competencies”) are expected and needed. We have developed Competency Self-Assessment and Knowledge Self-Assessment tools to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses as they compare to the skills and abilities required for Opticianry in Canada.
These assessments are for your purposes only; your results will not be accessible to any regulator or licensing body. The more accurate you are in your ratings, the more useful the feedback is to you.
For more information about these self-assessments visit the Evaluating Your Skills page on this website.
You can find a complete list of the Competencies for Opticianry in Canada at the NACOR website.
Often non-health professionals are not able to identify work opportunities directly related to their training. However, they may have skills and interests which could be transferable to a career in Opticianry.
Perhaps you have training in marketing, business management or sales. Although opticians are health care professionals, most work in a retail environment. They market their products and dispensing practice, and develop brands and promote the profession. Dispensing businesses range from independent offices to large chains, with lots of opportunity for opticians who are entrepreneurial and want to pursue management options.
Business-minded opticians are also an asset to companies who provide wholesale products to the industry because of their ability to understand the challenges of finding solutions to their patients’ vision problems.
Do you have training in interior design, architecture, art or fashion? Eyeglasses have evolved into a fashion accessory and some opticians sell, design and even make eyeglass frames. Imagine how training as an optician could open unexplored outlets for your creativity!
A background in photography is also a good skills match for an optician. A strong sense of light, colour and perspective is a definite asset for an optician. Even patients with a well-developed fashion identity have a difficult time making eyewear choices. An optician who possesses a photographer’s eye could manage those choices with confidence.
Math and Science
Opticians use math, algebra, trigonometry and physics in their work. Any person who has a background in math or science such as accounting or engineering would do well understanding visual optics and the design of lens products as they apply to each patient’s visual needs.
Above all opticians, are educators. Probably the single most important function of an optician is to be able to teach patients about the features, advantages and benefits of optical products. Canada is a multi-cultural country where language skills and understanding vary. The optician/communicator/educator is a most valuable asset to a dispensing business dealing with a diverse clientele.