What is 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.

Once you have decided on the province where you want to live, you should contact the regulatory body for opticians in that province.

Provincial Regulatory Bodies

College of Opticians of British Columbia
Suite 900 – 200 Granville St.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6C 1S4

Ph. 1-604-278-7510
Toll Free 1-888-771-6755
Fax. 1-604-278-7594

Saskatchewan College of Opticians
#13-350 103rd Street East
Saskatoon, SK
S7N 1Z1

Ph. 1-306-652-0769
Fax. 1-306-652-0784

The College of Opticians of Ontario
#300 – 90 Adelaide St. West
Toronto, ON
M5H 3V9

Ph. 1-416-368-3616
Fax 1-416-368-2713

Nova Scotia College of Dispensing Opticians
Halifax Professional Centre
Suite 342, 5991 Spring Garden Road
Halifax, NS
B3H 1Y6

Ph. 1-902-425-7928
Fax. 1-902-425-0360

The Dispensing Opticians Board of Newfoundland and Labrador
P.O. Box 2552
St. Johns, NL
A1C 6K1

Ph. 1-709-579-2605
Fax. 1-709-579-2605

Alberta College & Association of Opticians
Suite 201, 2528 Ellwood Dr.
Edmonton, Alberta
T6X 0A9

Ph. 1-780-429-2694
Fax. 1-780-428-5576

The Opticians of Manitoba
215-1080 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, MB
R3G 3M3

Ph. 1-204-222-8404
Toll Free: 1-855-346-3715
Fax. 1-204-222-5296

Opticians Association of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6743,
RPO Brunswick Square
Saint John, NB
E2L 4S2

Ph. 1-506-642-2878
Fax 1-506-642-7984

P.E.I. Board of Dispensing Opticians
P.O. Box 20140, RPO Sherwood
Charlottetown, P.E.I.
C1A 9E3

PLAR Process

Every province handles the PLAR a little differently, but in general you can expect the following:

1. Application

The provincial regulatory body will provide you with an application or registration package. You will be asked to provide various documentation. This could include:

  • Completed PLAR application form
  • Documentation of dispensing experience and fittings from each place of previous employment
  • Two passport-sized photos of yourself taken within the last two years
  • Transcripts from educational institutions you attended – specifically optician training programs from which you have graduated
  • Letters of reference from previous employers
  • Proof of previous licensure
  • Summary of previous and current optical experience
  • Personal and Professional References

2. Competency Gap Analysis (CGA)

The Competency Gap Analysis is an online tool which will help determine any gaps in your knowledge that you need to improve on. It is important to note that the CGA is not a test; you do not simply pass or fail. The CGA is a way for us to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses according to the NACOR list of National Competencies for Canadian opticians. Because of this, the CGA is divided into three sections:

Professional Practice


Contact Lenses


In some provinces you do not need to be a qualified contact lens fitter in order to become a registered optician. If that is the case you will need to challenge the ‘Professional Practice’ and ‘Eyeglasses’ sections, but ‘Contact Lenses’ would be optional. In other provinces (example: Ontario) you must qualify as a contact dispenser as well as an eyeglass dispenser in order to register. In this case, you would be required to challenge all four sections.

Each section will provide you with a series of multiple choice questions.

For examples of the types of questions you will be asked during the CGA, complete the PLAR Sample Quiz on this website.

3. Review of Results

The Registration Committee will look at your whole application, including your documentation and CGA results. From this evaluation, the Committee will determine what you need to do next to become a licensed optician.

4. Decision

After the Registration Committee assesses all of the information gathered they will come to a decision. There are two possible outcomes of PLAR:

Bridging: If gaps in learning are identified at any point in the process, the Committee may refer the applicant to complete a specified bridging program.

Examination: If the Committee is confident that an applicant’s prior learning is comparable to that of accredited and recognized education in Canada, they may allow the applicant to proceed to challenge the national licensing exam (National Optical Sciences Exam).

National Optical Sciences Examination

The National Optical Sciences Examination is a practical exam and is often referred to as the NACOR exam because it is administered by the

 National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR).

To find out more information about the national exam and how to apply, you can visit the Examinations page of this website or contact NACOR or the regulatory body for opticians in your province.

After successfully challenging the exam, applicants become eligible to apply for licensure as a registered optician with their provincial regulatory body.


PLAR candidates can expect to pay a document assessment and/or application fee, and a fee for the Competency Gap Analysis (CGA).

Each regulatory body has their own fee schedule. The following are links to the fee schedules of the provincial regulatory bodies that are available online:

College of Opticians of British Columbia

Alberta College and Association of Opticians

Opticians of Manitoba

College of Opticians of Saskatchewan

College of Opticians of Ontario

Nova Scotia College of Opticians

College of Opticians of New Brunswick

For more detailed information about the various fees, please visit the Licensing Calculator page or contact the provincial regulatory bodies directly.

Language Demands of the PLAR Process

Online Skills Assessment (Gap Analysis)

SkillCLB Level

CBI Interview

SkillCLB Level

Ready to start the PLAR process?

If you think you are ready to start the PLAR process, and you know which province you would like to live and work in, you can follow the links below to contact the regulatory body in that province or start the application online!

College of Opticians of British Columbia Online Application

Alberta College and Association of Opticians

College of Opticians of Saskatchewan

The Opticians of Manitoba

College of Opticians of Ontario

Ordre des opticiens d’ordonnances du Québec

College of Opticians of Nova Scotia

College of Opticians of New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island: E-Mail

Newfoundland and LabradorE-Mail, Phone/Fax: 1-709-579-2605


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