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


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

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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. 

Traits, skills and aptitudes

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.

Academic path

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.

Practicum, co-op and work integrated learning opportunities

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. 

Accreditations, designations or certifications

The Optician program is conditionally accredited by Accreditation Canada. 

Graduates will be prepared to challenge the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (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.

Program length

2 years

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. 

Not eligible for CAJG

This program is not 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):

  • Opticians (32100)
  • 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:

  • 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


  • completion of SAIT’s Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting program.

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 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.

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, supplies and uniforms are approximately $2,800.

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 are 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 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.

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. Measuring, fitting, and dispensing - demonstrate competency in measuring vision disturbances, fitting and dispensing contact lenses, eyewear, and low-vision aides, as well as educating patients about optimal ocular care.
  2. Clinical judgment - make clinical judgments when providing patient care.
  3. Communication - responsively and responsibly communicate with patients, families, and other health professionals to support a patient-centred approach.
  4. Collaboration - apply inter-professional collaboration and a team approach when providing patient care.
  5. Professionalism - plan professional life-long learning and continuing education opportunities that support personal practice as an optician.
  6. Business and retail - apply retail best practices in the optician business.
  7. Regulations and ethics - practice the protection and safety of practitioners, patients, and the public.
  8. Technology - demonstrate proficient technical skills to promote best practice in the Optician role.

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