Become a multi-disciplinary team member dedicated to leading-edge vision care with our Optician diploma.

Your studies will combine the advancements of optics with fashion, the principles of contact lenses and refracting, and the practicalities of lenses, lab skills and repairs. You’ll also gain a thorough understanding of the business and retail facets critical to the profession. 

In this program, you’ll learn:

  • ocular health, including in-depth coursework in ocular pathology
  • the principles of refracting and performing accurate refraction tests
  • about optical technology and equipment
  • how to fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses with precision 
  • how to ensure the perfect fit for a diverse clientele 
  • to assess, create and meet the specific eyewear needs of each customer.

In addition to these clinical skills, you’ll build a strong business and retail management foundation tailored to the optical and optometry field. Our program offers a blend of classroom lectures and laboratory sessions, culminating in clinical practicum placements, ensuring you receive a realistic taste of your future work environment. 

As a graduate, you’ll be prepared to challenge the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) exam. You can then pursue an optician and contact lens practitioner career, with opportunities in optical retail stores, ophthalmic or optometrist clinics, or other medical settings where eyewear and contact lenses are dispensed and created.  

Set your sights on a rewarding occupation where you can genuinely impact people’s quality of life with the SAIT Optician program. 

Opticians tend to be objective, methodical and social.  

You need:  

  • a courteous, pleasant manner 
  • effective communication skills 
  • the ability to think critically 
  • the ability to resolve conflicts 
  • the ability to study and interpret customer issues 
  • an eye for detail and accuracy
  • to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and regulate your emotions
  • a good sense of spatial relationships 
  • good fine motor skills (to manipulate small objects and instruments). 

Opticians may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for long periods, which includes exposure to latex and disinfection materials. They may also spend most of their working hours on their feet and performing repetitive tasks. 

Some positions required extended work hours or shiftwork, including evenings and weekends.

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

Graduates of SAIT’s Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting certificate program meet the admission requirements to enter this diploma program and receive credit for the first semester courses.

You will complete two required clinical practicums.

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. 

The Optician program is aligned with the competencies outlined by the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) and is accredited by Accreditation Canada.

Graduates will be prepared to challenge the NACOR exam and obtain a dual license as a dispensing optician and a contact lens fitter.

After successfully completing this program, you’ll 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 100% graduate employment rate

salary icon $49,010 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.


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.


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 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.


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.

  • COMP 261

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

  • HSCI 217

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.

  • HSCI 207

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.

  • HSCI 214

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.


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.

  • HSCI 301

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.


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.

  • HSCI 253

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.


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.

  • HSCI 250

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.

  • HSCI 252

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.

  • HSCI 350

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.

  • MKTG 2366

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.

  • 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

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.

  • HSCI 250
  • HSCI 252
  • HSCI 253
  • HSCI 301
  • HSCI 308
  • HSCI 311
  • HSCI 350
  • HSCI 351
  • HSCI 352
  • HSCI 371
  • PRCT 252

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.



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 >


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.

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

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

  • at least 65% in English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2, and
  • at least 65% in Math 30-1 or Math 30-2, and
  • at least 65% in Physics 20 or 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.


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.


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
International students: Open
  • Application deadline: Sept. 30, 2024


2024/25 tuition and fees

The following 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 2.5* $11,121 $1,840** $12,961
2 2.5* $11,121 $1,840** $12,961
Total cost:

*.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.

**You will be ineligible for the UPass during your third and sixth semesters.

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 2.5* $24,057 $1,840** $25,897
2 2.5* $24,057 $1,840** $25,897
Total cost:

*.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.

**You will be ineligible for the UPass during your third and sixth semesters.

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. An Apple or Windows-based laptop is required. 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 equipment/tools

Before attending labs, 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. Information regarding the kit will be provided during your first semester.

Required uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE)

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.
  • 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
  • Annual registration fees for the College of Opticians of Alberta (COA) are approximately $650. Applications to, and a license from, a regulatory body are required.

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.

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. 


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

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International Student Advising

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.