What is an Unaccredited Program?

Accredited programs are required to meet rigorous standards that ensure opticians are properly trained as experts in their field.

An example of an unaccredited program would be a training program offered in a country outside of Canada. Another example would be a program in Canada that has not accredited. Some unaccredited programs offer quick study courses that claim to train students to be opticians, but there is a lot more involved in that training than a course can teach you in such a short amount of time.

For this reason, we recommend that individuals who are interested in becoming opticians and have no prior experience or education in a related field should apply to an accredited opticianry program.

However, if you have attended an unaccredited training institution or have background in optics or health care, you may be eligible to become an optician through the PLAR process.

What is PLAR?

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 documents, including any applicable education or work experience.

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 four sections:

Professional Practice


Contact Lenses


Some provinces do not require you to be a qualified contact lens fitter in order to become a registered optician, and you may therefore only need to complete two 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 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:

1. 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.

2. 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 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 register as an optician across Canada.

Part of each examination is theoretical and the rest requires the candidate to demonstrate a required level of skill as outlined in the National Competencies for Canadian Opticians document.


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

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


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