The ACAO uses a lot of different names for opticians. What do they all mean?
Opticians may be called different things, depending on the stage of their education, and areas of specialization. Below is a handy list of the optician designations in Alberta, and what they mean.
Registered Opticians (RO) may dispense, fit, and adjust eyeglasses or sub-normal vision devices based on the prescription of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. An RO will have a practice permit displayed in their office that shows they are registered with the College.
In Alberta, “Registered Optician” and “Licensed Optician” mean the same thing; an optician must renew their registration every year in order to remain licensed. It is illegal to practice as an optician without a current license.
A Registered Contact Lens Practitioner may dispense, fit, and adjust contact lenses, eyeglasses, or sub-normal vision devices based on a prescription. Registered Contact Lens Practitioners (RCLPs) are opticians who have completed the Contact Lens Certificate program from NAIT, and have registered with the ACAO. RCLPs pay additional fees, but they also have an expanded scope of practice that many employers find valuable.
Fitting contact lenses is a restricted activity in Alberta.
Provisional Opticians may dispense eyeglasses or sub-normal vision devices only under the supervision or direction of a registered optician or optometrist who is physically present when dispensing takes place. This category is for those who have finished school, but have not yet completed the NACOR exam. An optician will be under provisional status as long as they renew their registration, and until they pass the National Exam.
Provisional Contact Lens Practitioners may dispense contact lenses under the supervision of a registered professional. Their supervisor may be a contact lens practitioner, ophthalmologist, or optometrist who is physically present when dispensing takes place. This category is for opticians who have finished the Contact Lens program, but have not yet completed the NACOR exam. A contact lens practitioner will be under provisional status as long as they renew their registration, and until they pass the National Exam.
A Non-Practicing Optician is an optician who has signed a document stating that they will not practice in the province of Alberta. Therefore, they cannot work as an optician, even under supervision. A Non-practicing optician was once licensed, but has declared their intention to no longer practice as an optician. There are many reasons an optician may decide to declare Non-Practicing status. Non-Practicing Opticians must keep up with Continuing Education courses; they, and they may begin practicing again once they have paid their prorated registration fees.
Provisional Non-Practicing is a provisional optician who will not be working during their provisional period. If a provisional optician declares non-practicing, they will pay non-practicing fees instead of provisional fees.