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Skip Navigation LinksThe Business of Opticianry in Canada
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Something for Everybody

The business of opticianry is an unusual marriage of science with fashion, retail marketing with patient health concerns, and manual dexterity and precision with artistic imagination. There is room within the profession to explore and satisfy a wide variety of personal areas of interest and skill.

Current Job Market in Canada

At any given time the job market will fluctuate. The Government of Canada Job Bank gives you a detailed look at the employment outlook for opticians in each province.

Moderate to large numbers of opticians expected to retire indicates they will be leaving openings for new opticians to fill. Moderate to strong employment growth indicates more opportunities are expected to be available in the near future. Low levels of unemployment indicate that most trained opticians have successfully found employment.

There are also considerable opportunities for opticians who want to work in smaller communities. Communities that are at a distance from major cities are typically under serviced.


Aging Demographics – Good for Opticians?

According to the Government of Canada age demographics, a greater percentage of our population is over 65 than is between 0-14 years old. What does this mean for opticians? Ask yourself, which demographic group most needs the services and products supplied by opticians? The answer – people over 65! It is predicted that this surge in the elder population will mean increased working opportunities for opticians.

The Government of Canada Job Bank also shows what percentage of working opticians in each province are over 55. Opticians over 55 are the most likely to retire in the near future. Opticians expected to retire indicates they will be leaving openings for new opticians to fill.


Salary Expectations

The pay scale for opticians varies according to their qualifications, experience, where they live and the specific role they are playing within the company. The Government of Canada Job Bank also publishes a wage report for opticians organized by province. This report will show you low, median, and high wage expectations for each province and some major cities within the provinces.

You can also look at the Payscale website to find more graphs and charts about wage statistics for opticians.

An optician may become the manager of a dispensary or the regional manager of a chain of dispensaries. This type of responsibility would attract a higher salary. An optician who decided to become an optical sales representative (selling wholesale products representing a lens or frame company) would likely make salary plus commission.

When you are investigating the wages, it is important to remember that the cost of living also varies between provinces.


Cost of Living in Canada

The Government of Canada also compiles a "consumer price index" for each province. The consumer price index details the average cost of living in each province. If you investigate the province you plan to live in, you'll see the average cost of things like food, shelter, education and other resources. Understanding the cost of living in an area can help you gauge your salary expectations and may influence where you decide to live.


Licensing Fees

Most professionals in Canada are required to seek membership with a professional regulatory body and/or association. Opticians are no different. Every person in Canada who wants to work as an optician must be licensed with a regulatory body in the province they will be working in.

Each regulatory body has their own fee schedule. For detailed information about the various fees, please consult the links below, or contact the provincial regulatory bodies directly.

In general, applicants who are applying to become licensed after graduating from an accredited post-secondary institution and successfully challenging the National Optical Sciences Examination (NOSE) will pay an application fee and a registration fee.

Applicants who have not graduated from an accredited program may be accepted for registration if they demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and skill through the PLAR process. For more information about this process, please visit the PLAR page of this website.

PLAR candidates can expect to pay a document assessment and/or application fee, Competency Gap Analysis (CGA) fee and Case Based Interview (CBI) fee. If the PLAR candidate is deemed eligible, they must then challenge the national licensing exam (NOSE or NACOR Exam) to become eligible for registration as a licensed optician. After successfully challenging the exam, applicants may pay another application fee and a registration fee to become a licensed optician.

You can use our Licensing Calculator to help estimate the cost of becoming an optician depending on which path you need to take.

Once you have become registered as an optician in the province of your choice you will have to pay an annual renewal fee. The provinces differ in the amount charged for annual renewal. You will need to factor this into your cost of living analysis.

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

Become an Optician
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