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Optician

Opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses, contact lenses, low-vision aids, and other eyewear to match prescriptions.

Also Known As

Contact Lens Filler, Contact Lens Practitioner, Dispensing Optician, Opthalmic Dispenser, Optical Dispenser, R.O. Dispensing Optician, Salesperson

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Opticians (3231) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Opticians (D231) 
  • 2011 NOC: Opticians (3231) 
  • 2016 NOC: Opticians (3231) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Opticians

2006 NOC: 3231

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating optical measuring devices to measure clients' eye curvatures, pupillary distances and bridge widths; and in using equipment to cut and edge lenses, fit lenses into frames, and grind and polish lenses

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling prescriptive information to produce eyeglasses or arrange for the production of eyeglasses, to arrange for grinding and polishing of lenses, and to adjust finished eyeglasses to fit clients; may supervise or manage the activities of students and other opticians

SOCIAL

Interest in speaking to clients to advise them on the correct use and care of contact lenses

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Opticians supply eyeglasses, contact lenses, low-vision aids, and prosthetics. To do this, they use written prescriptions or match existing optical products. Duties vary but, in general, opticians:

  • study and interpret prescriptions
  • help customers choose the best frames (size and shape) based on their prescription and facial structure
  • advise customers on lens and frame types
  • refer to relevant health care providers as needed
  • take measurements (to determine the size, shape and specifications) for lenses, frames, and lens forms
  • prepare work orders for optical lab technicians (who grind lenses)
  • assemble and repair eyeglasses
  • verify that completed eyeglasses meet the required specifications (fit)
  • adjust glasses to ensure customer comfort
  • fit and supply low-vision aids
  • promote good eye health and demonstrate the correct use of eyewear
  • conduct or collaborate in optical-related research.

In Alberta, they may provide refractions (measures of required eyeglass lens power). This requires remote supervision by a physician or optometrist.

Some opticians become certified as contact lens practitioners. They may design, supply, and assess contact lenses:

  • from optical prescriptions
  • for patients who have had a traumatic injury or corneal surgery
  • for reshaping corneas to correct near-sightedness
  • for patients who have eye disease.

Further to the duties above, opticians may:

  • arrange and keep displays of eyewear products
  • supervise the training of student opticians
  • purchase supplies or have related accounting duties.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Opticians are on their feet for much of their working day. Those working in retail stores may have to work some evenings and weekends.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Opticians need to possess:

  • a courteous, pleasant manner
  • speaking and listening skills
  • the ability to think critically
  • the ability to resolve conflicts
  • the ability to study and interpret customer issues
  • the ability to focus on details
  • a good sense of spatial relationships
  • good fine motor skills (to manipulate small objects and instruments).

They should enjoy:

  • dealing with people
  • using optical tools and equipment
  • gathering, interpreting, and confirming information.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Opticians

2011 NOC: 3231

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 13 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and Sep 19, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Assist clients in selecting eyeglasses
Adjust finished eyeglasses to fit client
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

In Alberta, opticians must have a combination of internship (practicum) experience and technical courses.

For a list of schools and programs that are recognized by the National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) visit their website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Optician

Opticians dispense eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids and prosthetics from written prescriptions or by duplicating existing optical products. They also may provide automated sight tests to consumers under contract with prescribing physicians or optometrists.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Opticians Profession Regulation, registration with the Alberta College and Association of Opticians (ACAO) is mandatory if you meet the identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members who are authorized by the College provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members of the College may call themselves or practice as an optician.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Optician.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Opticians work in:

  • retail stores
  • educational settings
  • refractive surgery clinics
  • low-vision practices
  • contact lens specialty practices.

They may be employees or independent owners of optical services. Some opticians work in association with ophthalmologists, optometrists, or a group of optical practitioners.

In Alberta, 99% of opticians work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3231: Opticians occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 20 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

This occupation generally has a high turnover rate and employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Salaries vary depending on the company and the optician’s skills. Some receive commissions on the sale of optical devices. 

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Opticians

2016 NOC: 3231
Average Wage
$26.71
Per Hour
Average Salary
$46,003.00
Per Year
Average Hours
36.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
10.9
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3231 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $25.00 $19.62 $20.19
Overall $21.00 $31.00 $26.71 $27.00
Top $23.00 $48.58 $33.66 $32.50

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
25%
25%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
66%
66%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
8%
8%
Vacancy Rate
2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta College and Association of Opticians (ACAO) website: acao.ca

Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) website: www.opticians.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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