May 25, 2024  
PUBLISHED 2024-2025 Credit Catalog 
PUBLISHED 2024-2025 Credit Catalog

Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting

Location(s): In Person (Main Campus), Blended (Main Campus & Online)

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This program equips you with the essential skills to support eye care professionals, including ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians.  

As a student, you will:  

  • learn the key medical and scientific principles of eye care 
  • gain expertise in optimal eye health and vision care terminology and procedures 
  • engage in a mix of classroom theory, hands-on lab practice and a clinical practicum 
  • obtain unique skill sets that prepare you for two professions (ophthalmology and optometry) within one program. 

Graduates can pursue careers as assistants in diverse medical settings, including private eye care clinics, corporate eye care practices and surgical eye centres.  

Traits, skills and aptitudes

Those in ophthalmic and optometric assisting tend to be methodical, social and objective.  

You need:  

  • to be organized 
  • effective communication skills 
  • the ability to work independently or with others 
  • to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and regulate your emotions 
  • patience and a courteous, pleasant manner 
  • critical thinking skills 
  • the ability to interact confidently and instil confidence in patients 
  • a high regard for patient confidentiality 
  • fine motor skills and good vision (with or without corrective lenses). 

Ophthalmic and optometric assistants may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for long periods, which includes exposure to latex and disinfection materials. They also need to be able to meet the physical demands of the job, which can include spending most of their working hours on their feet and performing repetitive tasks. 

You may work extended hours and shift work, including nights and weekends. 

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

Practicum, co-op and work integrated learning opportunities

You will complete a required practicum in either an ophthalmology or optometry clinic. 

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. 

Accreditations, designations or certifications

Our Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting program provides entry-level certification.

Graduates may wish to proceed with additional education to achieve the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) certification.


After successfully completing this program, you’ll receive a SAIT Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting Certificate.

Program length

1 year

Accepts international applicants - PGWP-eligible

This program accepts international applicants and meets the eligibility criteria for the Post-Graduation Work Permit program, as long as the student is registered in on-campus classes or completes more than 50% of the courses on campus (for blended options). 

International students attending all classes online will NOT be eligible for a Post-Graduate Work Permit. International students are responsible for maintaining their eligibility throughout their studies. 


This program is eligible for the Canada Alberta Job Grant

Related careers

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

Potential careers (NOC):

  • Other medical technologists and technicians (32129)
  • Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment (32109)
  • Other assisting occupations in support of health services (33109)

Admission requirements - Applicants educated in Canada

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

A minimum grade of 60% in each of the following courses:

  • English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2, and
  • Math 30-1 or Math 30-2, and
  • Biology 30 or Science 30.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

Admission requirements - Applicants educated outside of Canada

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.

Program outline

The Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting certificate requires 27 credits (nine courses) to complete.

The program spans one year, with two semesters.

Suggested schedule of study


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 > 

Books and supplies

Books and supplies are approximately $1,200 per full-time year.

An Apple or Android laptop is required. 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. 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 personal protective equipment (PPE) and uniforms

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.

Health and Public Safety program advising

For any questions or to set up an advising appointment, please contact our School of Health and Public Safety.

Phone: 403.284.8481

Program outcomes

  1. Medical knowledge - demonstrate ophthalmic and systemic disease and cognate sciences knowledge that applies to patient care in a vision care practice.
  2. Clinical skills and patient care - demonstrate the ability to treat ophthalmic health problems.
  3. Communication - communicate responsively and responsibly with patients, families, and other health professionals to support a team approach.
  4. Professionalism and lifelong learning - plan professional lifelong learning and continuing education opportunities that support personal practice as an Ophthalmic and Optometric Assistant.
  5. Community and health services - demonstrate an awareness and responsiveness to the larger healthcare context.
  6. Regulations and ethics - practice the protection and safety of practitioners, patients, and the public.
  7. Technical skills - demonstrate proficient technical skills to promote best practices in the ophthalmic and optometric assistant role.

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