Overview

Be at the forefront of eye care practice, working as part of a multi-disciplinary vision care team. You will study ocular pathology, refracting and pharmacology, and business and retail aspects of the profession.

Through our hands-on learning approach, you’ll gain skills that will demonstrate your application of the theory through clinical competencies focusing on refraction, filling eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions, ensuring a proper fit, and determining clients’ eyewear needs.

You’ll have a chance to practice and demonstrate these skills, along with business and retail skills, in dynamic, patient-centred environments through classroom lectures, laboratory practice and clinical practicum placements so you get exposure to simulated real-work experience before you graduate.

You'll experience success in this program and profession by developing the following traits, skills and aptitudes:

  • fine motor skills
  • critical thinking
  • effective communication skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)
  • ability to work independently and with others
  • actively participate in classroom, lab and practicum activities as scheduled by the program
  • ability to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and emotionally self-regulate
  • ability to use technology
  • willing to work extended hours, including nights and/or weekends, and shift work
  • ability to meet the physical demands of the job (for example, spending most hours working on your feet, walking, bending, and other repetitive tasks)
  • can tolerate latex and disinfection chemicals
  • comfortable with performing patient care procedures which may be sensitive or performed in close proximity.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for Opticians, as well as the governing body’s competency profile for the profession, to ensure that they can successfully demonstrate the skills required to achieve all the competency-based objectives for the program and profession.

Those who have completed the Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting program at SAIT or an equivalent can further their education in this program. This certificate meets the admission requirements for this program. 

The opportunity to advance your education by transferring into this program or gain credit for other previous postsecondary courses may be available.

There may also be opportunities to further your education by transferring to another institution once you graduate.

Learn more about program and institution transfer options.

You will take part in two clinical practicums as part of the program.

The School of Health and Public Safety has many practicum partners in Alberta and Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited, and you may be required to travel or relocate outside the city.

Successful applicants will be assigned their practicum placement. While we'll strive to assign your practicum location based on your preference, it is not guaranteed. Special considerations will not be given. You will be responsible for fees associated with the practicum, such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:

  • Police information check
  • Health and wellness status

Learn more about practicum requirements >

Graduates will be prepared to challenge the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) exam and obtain a dual license as a dispensing optician and a contact lens fitter.

Upon completing this program, graduates will be awarded a SAIT Optician Diploma.

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: 32100, 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.

Services and workshops

Courses

The Optician diploma requires 66 credits (23 courses) to complete.

The program spans two years, with three semesters each year. The third semester in each year will be your clinical practicum.

View classes by semester

Course Credits

This course will introduce the structure of the different systems of the human body and describe how the systems work together to maintain homeostasis within the body. Students will learn to identify the different anatomical parts and describe the organization and relationships between chemical units, cellular components, tissues, organs, and systems in the body.

3

This applied computer course provides students with critical electronic communications, data and file management skills, along with a strong focus on using common productivity applications to format, calculate, analyze, visualize, and present or report data and information.

Equivalents:
  • COMP 261
1.5

This is a practical course applying knowledge of dispensing theory. Learners will receive hands-on exposure to dispensing lab tools and equipment, as well as gain experience taking measurements and verifying single vision spectacle prescriptions. This course offers hands-on training using the appropriate instruments to measure, assess and fit contact lenses. Learners will apply previously obtained knowledge of soft contacts, contact maintenance, and care.

3

This course covers all aspects of single vision eyeglass assessment, production, and delivery to the patient. Students will learn the history of spectacles, the nature of a patient needs assessment, optics, and prescription interpretation. Students will also learn what impacts lens and frame selection, as well as how to evaluate eyeglass fit and provide follow-up care to patients.

3

This course begins with an introduction to the history of contact lenses and moves through milestones in development, manufacturing processes, assessment methods, and the different lens options, including the range of products available for care and cleaning. The course also covers different patient factors and characteristics that impact the success of contact lens wear, the different types of manual and automated instruments used in contact lens fitting procedures, and how to take measurements and evaluate patient data and needs assessment information. Finally, this course addresses soft contact lens patient education as a means to support continued ocular health, visual acuity, and comfort, as well as product-based care systems and follow-up procedures.

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 will study the principles and standards as they pertain to performing clinical procedures in a medical setting and in ophthalmology in particular. This includes ethics, communication, patient education, legislation, professional regulation, career planning, teamwork, conflict resolution, and psychology.

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 builds on previous learning of the assessments and requirements prior to fitting contact lenses. Students will also obtain knowledge of soft lens materials, wearing schedules, modalities, and indicators for contact lens wear.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 217
3

This hands-on course is a continuation of Contact Lenses & Dispensing 1, and enhances student competencies in a dispensing lab setting. Focus is placed on proficiency with the slit-lamp and its illuminations, in order to detect anomalies and concerns that rise from the fitting process. Further, students will learn how to properly obtain patient medical history, and convert spectacle prescriptions into contact lens prescriptions. Finally, students will be trained to insert and remove contact lenses, and perform visual assessment on patients.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 207
3

This course is designed to equip students with techniques for frame adjustments and repairs, as well as with skills for managing complex prescriptions, proper lens and frame choice, and prescription interpretation.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 214
3

This course provides learners with the theoretical knowledge necessary for performing automated and manual refraction.  Focus is placed on methods of measuring, assessing, and detecting abnormalities in visual acuity, visual field, and binocular vision. Operating the instruments used in such testing is also covered.

3

This course builds on previous learning to increase the theoretical knowledge necessary for performing automated and manual refraction.  Focus is placed on methods of measuring, assessing, and detecting abnormalities in visual acuity, visual field, and binocular vision. Operating the instruments used in such testing is also covered.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 301
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 OTC products.

3

This course on dispensing eyewear will enhance student knowledge of custom-made eyewear (multifocal, task specific, and children’s lenses). Aphakia and its special considerations for dispensing will be discussed, as well as abnormal ocular conditions and their resolutions. Special consideration is given to anisometropia, aphakia, and other optical aberrations.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 253
3

This course incorporates all components of clinical theory that have been previously learned in the program. Students are given the opportunity to refine their learning through performing manual and objective assessment of refractive errors on a patient.

3

This course continues to study advanced hard and soft lens design and fitting. It will also study special lens fitting considerations and modifications with respect to contact lenses and out of the ordinary ocular conditions. The course continues the learning of the pre-assessments required to fit contact lenses, and provides a detailed outline of all requirements necessary in the fitting of contact lenses. Assessment of the adnexa and cornea surface will be thoroughly discussed. Soft lens materials, wearing schedules, modalities, and indicators of contact lens wear are also covered.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 250
3

In this course, measurements and fitting of advanced contact lenses and eyeglasses are practiced. This course reviews content from previous dispensing and contact lens courses. An emphasis is placed on preparation to challenge the NACOR contact lens and dispensing exam.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 252
3

Building on Applied Refracting Skills 1, this course again incorporates all components of clinical theory that have been previously learned in the program. Students are given the opportunity to further refine their learning through performing visual acuity testing, manual and objective assessment of refractive errors on a patient, and providing prescriptions for the purpose of visual disturbances correction.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 350
3

Business Development is defined as the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships. This course will look at the relationship between traditional transactional sales, relationship selling and the evolution of the Business Development function. Market scanning and analysis, and the identification of potential growth markets, and key customers will be examined. Relationship, customer-centred selling techniques will be developed including relationship building, needs analysis, along with after sales customer care. Managing a sales force is explored including the effective organization of a sales department, forecasting and analyzing sales, recruiting and training a sales force, evaluating performance, and legal and ethical issues within the sales profession.

Equivalents:
  • MKTG 2366
3

Learners are provided with the opportunity to rotate through specific clinical settings in order to achieve identified clinical objectives required for achieving entry-level competencies as specified by the National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) Competency Profile.

Pre-requisites:
  • COMP 264
  • HSCI 207
  • HSCI 214
  • HSCI 217
  • HSCI 219
  • HSCI 221
  • HSCI 223
  • HSCI 309
  • MKTG 366
  • PROF 240
  • One of:
    • ANPH 204
    • ANPH 220
3

In this practicum course, you will rotate through a variety of clinical settings to achieve specific clinical objectives. These objectives are aligned with the entry-level competencies defined by the National Association of Optician Regulators.

Pre-requisites:
  • HSCI 250
  • HSCI 252
  • HSCI 253
  • HSCI 301
  • HSCI 308
  • HSCI 311
  • HSCI 350
  • HSCI 351
  • HSCI 352
  • HSCI 371
  • PRCT 252
3

As future health care professionals, students in this course will require strategies for working effectively and respectfully within interdisciplinary teams. The course examines topics such as conflict management, problem solving, decision making, customer service, leadership, ethics and values in the health care workplace.

1.5

Progression

Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students 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 >

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Explore your options!

Some courses in this program are available through Open Studies. You can complete courses via Open Studies to get a head start on your education, reduce your course load once accepted into a credentialed program, or determine which career path best suits you before you fully commit. 

You may also take courses for general interest or personal and professional development.

Available Open Studies courses

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

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

A minimum grade of 65% in each of the following courses or their equivalents:

  • English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2
  • Math 30-1 or Math 30-2
  • Physics 20 or Biology 30 or Science 30

Or completion of the Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting program or equivalent.

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 out what educational documents are accepted 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.

Upgrade
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English language proficiency

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

Learn more

Available intakes

Fall 2024

Start dates:

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

Costs

2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023. They are an estimate of tuition and fees based on the recommended course load per year.

Domestic students

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2.5* $10,923 $1,873 $12,796
2 2.5* $10,923 $1,873 $12,796
Total cost:
$25,592

*.5 indicates a combination of full-time semester(s) and part-time semester(s) in the same academic year. In many cases, students are completing a practicum during their part-time semester. Part-time students are those taking less than nine (9) course credits in a semester.

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2.5* $24,052.71 $1,873 $25,925.71
2 2.5* $24,052.71 $1,873 $25,925.71
Total cost:
$51,851.42

*.5 indicates a combination of full-time semester(s) and part-time semester(s) in the same academic year. In many cases, students are completing a practicum during their part-time semester. Part-time students are those taking less than nine (9) course credits in a semester.

Books, supplies and uniforms are approximately $2,800.

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.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore's website. The booklist will be available closer to the program start date. Can’t find your program or course? The bookstore didn't receive a textbook list. Contact your program directly to determine if they’re still refining course details or if you're in luck; no textbook purchase is required this term.

Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum, including pre-practicum requirements as outlined by the program and relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.

Required equipment/tools

Before attending labs in semester two, you must purchase a professional optician toolkit containing essential optical tools commonly used in practice.

The kit is purchased directly through an external provider for approximately $380 + tax. Information regarding the kit will be provided during your first semester. 

Before starting your second-year contact lens labs, you must also purchase a contact lens fitting set. The kit costs approximately $150 and will be available for purchase at the SAIT bookstore.

Required personal protective equipment (PPE)

Optician students must wear navy blue scrubs (top and bottom) and closed-toe water-impermeable shoes for lab courses (starting in the second semester).

Additional fees

The annual registration fees of the College of Opticians of Alberta (COA) are approximately $650. Applications to, and a license from, a regulatory body are required. Further fee information is available on the COA website.

The National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulator (NACOR) certification exam fees are:

  • Optical Sciences 1: Eyeglasses and Optical Sciences: $750
  • Optical Sciences 2: Advanced Practice Contact Lenses: $750
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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.

Learn more

Application 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. 

Apply now

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