Welcome to Canada

If you have experience working in optical science or healthcare fields, you may be eligible to become an optician through the PLAR process. 

PLAR stands for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition; it is an application process for people who have gained relevant experience or education but have not completed an accredited Canadian program. 

Some examples of people who may decide to apply through the PLAR process include…

People who were trained as health-care workers internationally, and want to work in a similar field in Canada.

People who were trained in Canada but did not receive a diploma from an accredited education program.

People who have been working in a related field in Canada, and have many overlapping skills.


You can complete the PLAR process in English or French, but you should speak the language most common to the province where you intend to live.


If you are planning to complete PLAR in Quebec, follow the link to learn more about how the process differs!
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Step by Step

Canada is a land of opportunity. With room to grow in almost every province, the Canadian government encourages immigration. With so many options available, we want to make sure you have a good idea of what the country, as well as each province, is like before you choose where to live.

Step 1


The first thing to do is choose which province you want to live and work in. NACOR facilitates PLAR across Canada, but the application process begins with the provincial regulatory colleges. Don’t worry too much about being stuck in one place; the Mutual Recognition Agreement ensures that licensed opticians from one province can easily become licensed in another province if they decide to move.

Step 2


Once you have researched and chosen your province, the next step is to contact NACOR, the organization that handles PLAR across most of Canada. NACOR can advise you on how to begin the PLAR process for your province.

Each province’s initial registration process may be different depending on where you choose to live, but aside from a few variations in those first steps, the PLAR process is the same for every applicant.

Step 3


After you’ve applied through your regulatory college, you will be able to take an online test called the Competency Gap Analysis (CGA). The CGA is a skills assessment based on National Competencies that all opticians in Canada must be able to meet. The CGA helps determine what your strengths are and if there are any areas you may need improvement. If the CGA shows you need improvement, you will be assigned coursework to complete before you can write the National Exam.

Step 4


NACOR administers and reviews all CGA tests using the same process for every applicant. After your results are reviewed, NACOR will send them to your provincial regulatory college, and the college will then send you a Reasons and Decisions letter.

Step 5


If your CGA results indicated that you need improvement in some areas, you will be assigned bridging courses. The bridging courses have been designed to help you upgrade your skills and improve your knowledge so that you will be at the same level as a new graduate from an accredited program. You must complete any bridging you have been assigned in order to be eligible to sit the National Exam. You can learn more about bridging on the NACOR website.

Step 6


After you have completed all of your assigned bridging modules, you will be eligible to sit the National Optical Sciences Exam. The National Exam is the practical examination that you must pass in order to register as a licensed optician in Canada. Both PLAR and accredited program graduates must pass the National Exam to become registered in their province.



Are you curious about the CGA? Take the practice quiz below to see what kinds of questions you might find on the assessment.