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

Also Known As

Contact Lens Fitter, Contact Lens Practitioner, Dispensing Optician, Ophthalmic Dispenser, Optical Dispenser, Registered Optician, RCLP, Refracting Optician

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

  • 3231: Opticians

2006 NOC-S

  • D231: Opticians

2011 NOC

  • 3231: Opticians

2016 NOC

  • 3231: Opticians

2021 NOC

  • 32100: Opticians

2023 OaSIS

  • 32100.00: Opticians
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

  • Design, supply, prepare, adjust, and dispense optical appliances and prostheses, including corrective lenses, according to an optical prescription
  • Help customers choose the best frames (size and shape) based on their prescription and facial structure
  • Advise customers on lens and frame options based on factors such as their prescription, facial structure, occupation, hobbies, needs, expectations, and budget
  • Take measurements to determine the size, shape, and specifications for lenses, frames, and lens forms
  • Prepare work orders for optical lab technicians or opticians who will grind lenses and may assemble the eyeglasses
  • Assemble and repair eyeglasses
  • Verify that completed eyeglasses meet the required specifications (within tolerance) including prescription, measurements, quality, finishing, and so on
  • Fit and supply low-vision aids
  • Educate customers and registered members about eye health and the correct use of optical appliances and prostheses
  • Conduct or collaborate in optical research
  • Conduct assessments and make referrals where appropriate
  • Provide mentorship to student opticians through onsite training or by teaching at accredited institutions

In Alberta, they may provide refractions (measures of required eyeglass lens power). If an optician intends to refract, they must apply to the College of Opticians of Alberta (COA) for refracting designation through a process established by the COA.

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 with eye diseases

Opticians may also:

  • Arrange and keep displays of eyewear products
  • Supervise the training of student opticians
  • Purchase supplies or have related accounting duties
  • Own or manage optical or optometric practices
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • 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. Some opticians may also work in mobile clinics.

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.


2006 NOC: 3231

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


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


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


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

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Opticians need:

  • To be courteous and pleasant
  • Speaking and listening skills
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Conflict-resolution skills
  • Math skills
  • The ability to study and interpret customer issues
  • Detail orientation
  • Skills in understanding and working with spatial relationships
  • Fine motor skills (to manipulate small objects and instruments)

They should enjoy:

  • Working with people
  • Using optical tools and equipment
  • Gathering, interpreting, and confirming information
  • Working in a health-care setting as a member of an eye-care team

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.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For


2016 NOC: 3231

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 21 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and Mar 11, 2024.

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.
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Tasks: Assist clients in selecting eyeglasses
Attention to detail
Tasks: Adjust finished eyeglasses to fit client
Construction Specialization: Dependability
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • 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.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

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, 2024
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.


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


Under Alberta’s Health Professions Act [pdf], Health Professions Restricted Activity Regulation [pdf], and Opticians Profession Regulation [pdf], registration with the College of Opticians of Alberta (COA) is mandatory. Only registered members may provide restricted activities specified in the Regulations. This includes those who:

  • 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
  • Supervise registered members
  • Use the titles or initials: optician, ophthalmic dispenser, optical dispenser, or RO

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Opticians work in:

  • Retail stores
  • Optical practices
  • Educational settings
  • Refractive surgery clinics
  • Ophthalmic practices
  • Optometric practices
  • Low-vision practices
  • Contact lens specialty practices

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

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3231: Opticians occupational group, 95.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3231: Opticians occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 8 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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: 2021-2025 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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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.


2016 NOC: 3231
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 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

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $25.00 $18.85 $18.50
Overall $17.02 $34.25 $24.09 $23.05
Top $21.50 $42.86 $34.64 $38.00

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


Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

College of Opticians of Alberta (COA) website:

National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) website:

Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) website:

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

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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