Welcome to Canada

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You have trained in another country, and now you want to practice Opticianry in Alberta…

First of all, welcome! Second, there are several steps you need to complete to be allowed to practice here. It may seem overwhelming at first, but we will try to make it easy to follow. We look forward to working with you after you have completed the requirements for becoming an optician in Alberta. Before we get started, consider watching this video about the international experience.



Why You Need to Register

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Opticianry is a regulated profession in Alberta; before you can be an optician, you must register…

The Health Professions Act and the Opticianry Regulations govern the practice of opticianry in Alberta. Everyone practicing in Alberta as an RO, RCLP, and Provisional Optician must be registered with the ACAO. Failure to register is a significant offense and can result in disciplinary action and/or fines.  Practicing unlicensed is illegal; we are here to keep you and the public safe.




Steps to Registration

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Begin the registration process by applying with the ACAO…

All international candidates must complete the following steps in order to become Registered Opticians in Alberta:

  1. Application: Apply for registration with the ACAO by completing the Registration Application Form Submit it with all additional documentation required by the registration committee.
  2. Preliminary Assessment: The Registration Committee will begin preliminary assessment and will review the following: your resume, relevant work experience, and any transcripts, letters of personal reference, letters of professional competence, letters of good standing, and language proficiency. We will interview you to determine your level of competency.
  3. Competency Gap Analysis: In addition to the interview, you will take the Competency Gap Analysis test, an online tool which will help determine any gaps in your knowledge that you need to improve on.
  4. Bridging: If gaps in learning are identified at any point in the process, the Registration Committee may ask you to complete a specified bridging program.
  5. Registration: After you successfully complete any assigned bridging, or if the Registration Committee has determined you do not require any bridging, you will be able to register with the ACAO as a Provisional Optician. At that time, you must pay your Provisional fees and will practice under supervision until you successfully challenge the NACOR national licensing exam for opticians.
  6. Examination: After you have met Canadian standards through a combination of prior education and gap bridging courses, and are registered as Provisional with the ACAO you may proceed to take the NACOR exam.




More Information
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We know that the above is a fairly rushed explanation, so here are some more details…

How Long Does It Take?

After you have submitted your application, it is time to book your Competency Gap Analysis (CGA) and Interview. The ACAO will contact you with available dates to choose from. Typically, the CGA and interview are on different days, but both take place at the ACAO’s main office. This process can take between 3-6 months.


The Competency Gap Analysis (CGA)

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. Because of this, the CGA is divided into three sections:

  • Core
  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact Lenses

Each section will provide you with a series of multiple choice questions. You will have 5 hours to complete the three sections, and an optional short break after each section. If you are not interested in becoming a contact lens fitter, you do not have to complete the contact lens portion of the CGA.


The Interview

The interview will be divided into the same three categories as the CGA. Rather than “quizzing” you, the interviewers will ask you about your own personal experience dispensing eyeglasses and fitting contact lenses (if applicable). The interviewers will also provide you with hypothetical scenarios where you will provide proposed courses of action.

The interview will be about 3 hours long with an optional short break after each section.


Registration Committee Evaluation

The Registration Committee meets every quarter. They will look at your whole application, including your CGA and interview results. From this evaluation, the Registration Committee will determine what you need to do to become a licensed optician. Often this includes taking online modules through NAIT in order to bridge gaps in your knowledge and strengthen areas of weakness.


Decisions and Reasons Document

The registration committee will prepare a Decisions and Reasons document once they have evaluated your application. This is an official, legal document. The Decisions and Reasons document outlines the recommended course of action from the Registration Committee, as well as their reasons.

You can appeal the Decisions and Reasons document within 30 days of receiving it.



NAIT provides online modules for you to complete your bridging courses. These modules generally take about 50 hours each to complete. You will have 1-3 years to finish your bridging courses, depending on how many you have to complete.


NACOR Examination

After you have completed the course of action that the Registration Committee has assigned, you must submit proof of completion. Once you have done this, you will be able to register as a Provisional Optician with the ACAO and challenge the NACOR national licensing examination for opticians. If you pass the NACOR, you then become a licensed optician.




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We have answers…

You can watch all of the videos on our Becoming an Optician page, and you can learn more about living here on our Immigrating to Alberta page. Remember, the College is here to support you throughout this process; if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us. We want to make your journey to becoming a licensed health care professional as smooth and stress free as possible.


For specific inquiries, please contact the College office:

E-Mail: general@acao.ca

Phone: (780) 429-2694

Toll Free: 1 (800) 263-6026