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Opticians fit and adapt eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids and other optical appliances according to prescriptions.

  • Avg. Salary $49,266.00
  • Avg. Wage $25.85
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,900
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Salesperson, Dispensing 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: Opticians (3231) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Opticians (D231) 
  • 2011 NOC: Opticians (3231) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Optician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

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

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 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 More

Updated Sep 22, 2014

Opticians dispense eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids and prosthetics from written prescriptions or by duplicating existing optical products. Duties vary from one position to another but, in general, opticians:

  • analyze and interpret prescriptions
  • help customers select frames of the most suitable size and shape based on prescriptions and anatomical considerations 
  • advise customers regarding lens and frame types
  • refer to appropriate health care professionals when necessary
  • take measurements to determine the size, shape and specifications for lenses, frames and lens forms
  • prepare work orders for optical laboratory technicians who grind lenses
  • assemble eyeglasses
  • verify that completed eye glasses or lenses fit and are manufactured to the required specifications
  • make appropriate adjustments to ensure customer comfort
  • fit and dispense low vision appliances
  • promote eye health and the correct use of ophthalmic appliances by educating consumers
  • conduct or collaborate in optical related research.

In Alberta, opticians may provide refractions (measures of required eyeglass lens power) when remotely supervised by a physician or optometrist. 

Opticians who have advanced practice certification as contact lens practitioners may design, dispense and evaluate contact lenses:

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

They also may dispense and follow up contact lenses for patients who have eye disease.

In addition to the duties described above, opticians may:

  • arrange and maintain displays of optical merchandise
  • supervise the training of student opticians
  • purchase supplies or have related accounting duties.
Working Conditions
Updated Sep 22, 2014

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

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Sep 22, 2014

Opticians need the following characteristics:

  • a courteous, pleasant manner
  • good communication skills
  • critical thinking and conflict resolution skills
  • the ability to analyze and interpret customer issues
  • the ability to pay close attention to details
  • a good sense of spatial relationships
  • the finger dexterity required to manipulate small objects and instruments.

They should enjoy dealing with people, operating optical devices, and compiling and checking information.

Educational Requirements
Updated Sep 22, 2014

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

Related Education

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

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Sep 22, 2014

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Ophthalmic Dispensing Regulation, only registered members of the Alberta Opticians Association (AOA) may call themselves or practice as an Optician. For more information on certification please see the Optician profile in CERTinfo.


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.


Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Opticians Profession Regulation, registration with the College of Opticians of Alberta (COA) 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.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) a diploma program in eyeglass dispensing approved by the College of Opticians of Alberta, and (2) approved examinations. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the COA website or contact the COA. The COA has a prior learning assessment process for assessing credentials and training obtained outside Canada.

Working in Alberta

Opticians who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered opticians in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated opticians, see Optician Registration Process on the website.

Contact Details

College of Opticians of Alberta
201, 2528 Ellwood Dr SW
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6X 0A9
Phone number: 780-429-2694
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-263-6026
Fax number: 780-426-5576
Toll-free fax number: 1-800-584-6896

Employment & Advancement
Updated Sep 22, 2014

Opticians work in:

  • retail dispensaries
  • teaching environments
  • 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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 Sep 22, 2014

Salaries vary considerably depending on the company and the opticians' skills. Some opticians are paid commissions on the sale of optical devices.

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.75 $25.50 $18.38 $18.00
Overall $20.00 $31.25 $25.85 $27.00
Top $24.00 $40.00 $31.18 $32.00

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Retail Trade

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 High School Subjects
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Sep 22, 2014

Alberta Opticians Association (AOA) website:

Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 2014. 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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