Overview

This program equips you with the essential skills to support eye care professionals, including ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians.  

As a student, you will:  

  • learn the key medical and scientific principles of eye care 
  • gain expertise in optimal eye health and vision care terminology and procedures 
  • engage in a mix of classroom theory, hands-on lab practice and a clinical practicum 
  • obtain unique skill sets that prepare you for two professions (ophthalmology and optometry) within one program. 

Graduates can pursue careers as assistants in diverse medical settings, including private eye care clinics, corporate eye care practices and surgical eye centres.  

Those in ophthalmic and optometric assisting tend to be methodical, social and objective.  

You need:  

  • to be organized 
  • effective communication skills 
  • the ability to work independently or with others 
  • to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and regulate your emotions 
  • patience and a courteous, pleasant manner 
  • critical thinking skills 
  • the ability to interact confidently and instill confidence in patients 
  • a high regard for patient confidentiality 
  • fine motor skills and good vision (with or without corrective lenses). 

Ophthalmic and optometric assistants may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for long periods, which includes exposure to latex and disinfection materials. They also need to be able to meet the physical demands of the job, which can include spending most of their working hours on their feet and performing repetitive tasks. 

You may work extended hours and shift work, including nights and weekends. 

You are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for ophthalmic medical personnel to ensure you can successfully meet the occupational requirements for the program and profession.

You will complete a required practicum in either an ophthalmology or optometry clinic. 

You will be assigned practicum placements with consideration given to your preference of location. However, due to limited availability in Calgary, it might be necessary for you to travel or relocate outside the city. Special considerations will not be accommodated.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be required to provide specific documentation before you can participate in your practicum. Find out what requirements you need for this program. 

Our Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting program provides entry-level certification.

Graduates may wish to proceed with additional education to achieve the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) certification.

After successfully completing this program, you’ll receive a SAIT Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting Certificate.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

Each year, SAIT conducts a survey between February and April to determine the employment rate, salary and satisfaction of our newest SAIT alumni. 

people icon 95% graduate employment rate

salary icon $47,500 average starting salary

Find out more about our graduate employment statistics >

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

Associated National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes: 32109, 33109.

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Career counselling and support

Unsure which career path is for you? SAIT offers career planning services to help you decide your future.

You can also get started by taking our online career finder quiz, which can help you narrow down your search based on your current skills and interests.

Finally, you can also head to Alberta alis for various tools and resources, including additional quizzes and labour market information to help you narrow down a career path.

Courses

The Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting certificate requires 27 credits (nine courses) to complete.

The program spans one year, with two semesters.

View classes by semester

Course Credits

This course introduces the structure of the different systems within the human body and describes how those systems work together to maintain homeostasis and keep the body alive. You will identify anatomical parts and describe the organization and relationships between chemical units, cellular components, tissues, organs and systems.

3

This course covers all aspects of ophthalmic and optometric skills, with hands-on practice to develop your technical skills. This course combines theory in the pre-lab activities with labs designed to reinforce the material. The labs will provide experience with all the technical skills required to become an ophthalmic/optometric assistant. This includes obtaining case history and assessment of visual acuities to performing diagnostic testing along with insertion and removal of contact lenses. You will also make eyeglass adjustments and provide follow-up care to your patients.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 219
  • HSCI 221
  • HSCI 223
  • HSCI 309
  • One of:
    • ANPH 204
    • ANPH 220
3

Ocular anatomy and physiology is the cornerstone of ophthalmic medical technology.  This course covers ocular diseases, syndromes and disorders that could be understood through a strong base in anatomy and physiology of the eye.

3

This course introduces principles and standards pertaining to clinical procedures in eye care. These include ethics, legislation, professional regulation, job roles, teamwork, and professionalism.

3

This course focuses on the testing and instrumentation used in an ophthalmic medical setting. This course will provide the learners with knowledge of testing as a diagnostic tool, as well as equip them with technical knowledge necessary to troubleshoot, maintain, and repair equipment.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 219
  • HSCI 221
  • HSCI 223
  • HSCI 309
  • One of:
    • ANPH 204
    • ANPH 220
3

This course introduces ophthalmic concepts that directly pertain to patient care.  This includes: pretesting and supplementary testing, eyewear frames and lenses, contact lenses, refraction and ocular health, removal or application of eye dressings, business and retail, office procedures, and assisting disabled adults and child patients.

3

This course will teach the learners the foundations of assisting in ophthalmic surgical procedures. This includes surgical asepsis, surgical instruments, types of surgeries, and ophthalmic surgical pharmacology.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 219
  • HSCI 221
  • HSCI 223
  • HSCI 309
  • One of:
    • ANPH 204
    • ANPH 220
3

This course will introduce how systemic diseases can have eye implications and must not be overlooked when considering diagnosis of an eye disease or disorder. The course will also focus on medication classifications, safe medication calculations, and safe medication administration, alongside an introduction to common ocular medications and over the counter (OTC) products.

3

Learners are provided with the opportunity to rotate through specific clinical settings on a weekly basis, in order to achieve identified clinical objectives required for achieving entry-level competencies as specified by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) Competency Profile.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 219
  • HSCI 221
  • HSCI 223
  • HSCI 309
  • One of:
    • ANPH 204
    • ANPH 220
Corequsites:
  • HSCI 218
  • HSCI 222
  • HSCI 251
3

Progression

You must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better each semester and pass the prerequisite courses to progress through the program.

To qualify for graduation, you must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Review our grading and progression procedure >

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and meet the following requirements or equivalents.

A minimum grade of 60% in each of the following courses:

  • English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2, and
  • Math 30-1 or Math 30-2, and
  • Biology 30 or Science 30.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

All applicants who were educated outside of Canada must demonstrate English language proficiency and provide proof they meet the program admission requirements with an international document assessment. Find accepted educational documents and assessment options

SAIT may also accept courses completed at certain international post-secondary institutions.

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Academic Upgrading

Missing an admission requirement for this program? Upgrade your prior education to help you receive admission into one of SAIT's career programs.

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English language proficiency

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Transfer agreements

At SAIT, we evaluate post-secondary credit you have previously earned and apply it to your SAIT credential. Explore our formal transfer agreements available for this program.

We can evaluate your prior education, even if we don't have a formal agreement in place.

Submit a transfer credit application

There are no formal transfer agreements currently in place for this program.

Transfer options for graduates

Build on the knowledge you’ve learned at SAIT. The opportunity to advance your education at an accredited post-secondary institution may be available.

🔗 Visit Transfer Alberta search tool for a full list of transfer opportunities within the province.

Available intakes

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Closed
  • Application deadline: June 28, 2024
International students: Closed
  • Application deadline: May 29, 2024

Winter 2025

Start dates:

Domestic students: Open
  • Application deadline: Oct. 25, 2024

Costs

2024/25 tuition and fees

The following estimated costs are effective as of July 1, 2024.

Domestic students

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for domestic students is based on the recommended course load per year.
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $7,992 $1,608 $9,600
Total cost:
$9,600

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for international students is based on the recommended course load per year.
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $18,711 $1,608 $20,319
Total cost:
$20,319

Books and supplies are approximately $1,200 per full-time year.

An Apple or Android laptop is required. This is a bring-your-own-device program with a standard computer hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page. Tablets or mobile phones are not suitable alternatives.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore’s website. Booklists are created by semester and available approximately two weeks before classes begin.

Required personal protective equipment (PPE) and uniforms

You will require:

  • navy scrubs (pants and top)
  • closed-toe water-impermeable shoes.

Additional industry-approved PPE will be discussed before the start of labs.

Additional fees

  • You are responsible for additional expenses related to your practicum, including pre-practicum requirements and relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.
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Financial aid

Paying for your education may feel overwhelming, but we have resources and programs that can help, including information about payment options, student loans, grants and scholarships.

Canada Alberta Job Grant icon

This program is eligible for Canada Alberta Job Grant funding.

Admission process

Ready to apply?

Follow our step-by-step guide to submitting a successful application.

Learn how to apply

Communication during admission

Email is the primary source of communication during the admission process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications. 

We recommend you add hps.info@sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 

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Begin your application

Apply now using the online application portal. 

Ensure you have a valid Visa or Mastercard to pay the non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants or $150 for international applicants. 

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact us

School of Health and Public Safety Advising

Phone
403.284.8500
Email
hps.info@sait.ca

International Student Advising

Phone
403.284.8852
Email
international@sait.ca
a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.