Welcome to part II of Opticianry Schools! In Part I, we reviewed opticianry schools in Ontario offering the program in traditional-classroom-style delivery. We also did a comparison of the two schools and briefly went over what to expect from your studies.
Here we are going to learn about a third option to become a licensed optician in Ontario, and that is through NAIT – the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
I know, sounds a little weird. Alberta and Ontario are some 2000 km apart, and they each have their own rules and regulations for opticians, so how is that you can become a licensed optician in Ontario by studying a program in Alberta?
Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this post; telling you how!
How is NAIT different from Seneca and Georgian college?
In comparison to Seneca and Georgian College, NAIT has a different delivery mode, program structure, and licensing. NAIT offers multiple disciplines under the Optical Sciences field, including accredited and non-accredited programs. We are going to focus on accredited education today.
As discussed in Part I, in Ontario your studies encompass both eyeglasses and contact lenses. You can choose to specialize in one category when you are applying for your license, but you must complete the school’s curriculum nonetheless. At NAIT, however, the accredited education designed for opticians is primarily focused on eyeglasses dispensing. After receiving your diploma, if you wish to expand your scope of practice, you can study a 1-year post-diploma certificate program focused on contact lenses.
Now, let’s take a closer look at things.
NAIT Optical Sciences-Eyeglasses
Delivery Mode & Program Structure
If you are currently working in the eye care field and wish to pursue it professionally, then this program could be a great fit for you. Why? Because, NAIT’s Optical Sciences-Eyeglasses program is an online optician training program, and entry to the program is conditional upon having secured employment with a licensed supervisor, such as a licensed optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist. This is especially important, as your dispensing hours and the practical portion of your studies must be verified by a licensed practitioner for you to be able to graduate.
That means you can get your license without disrupting your work schedule, and build upon your skills in the field you love. It’s a luxury to be able to study and work in the same field; I mean doing one while doing the other!
As an applicant outside of Alberta, you can apply through the Opticians Association of Canada. Once you send your inquiry you will receive an application package, which guides you through the registration process.
In year one you will start by learning about frames, basic mathematics and optics, instruments and measurement techniques. Then in 2nd term, you delve deeper by studying communication, prescription interpretation, and design of single vision lenses.
In the 2nd year, you will continue building upon your knowledge by studying eye health (which covers basic principles in anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the eye). You also further your knowledge of dispensing by learning about multi-focal prescription interpretation and lens design. Finally, in term 4, you will learn about patient /practice management, work ethics, and standards of practice. In each term, you are required to complete a Clinical portion, before levelling up.
After successfully finishing your online optician training program you will receive your diploma from NAIT. However, you are not entitled to practice independently as an optician yet! First, you have to write the national examination for opticians called NACOR (National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators). Once you passed your NACOR exam, then you can apply to register with the College of Opticians of Ontario. Throughout this process, you have to continue to work under the supervision of a licensed eyecare professional. When you receive your registration number and license from COO, you can officially call yourself an optician!
This was just a brief overview of the optician training programs in Canada, specifically Ontario. If you’re not sure which one is the best fit for you or you have any questions about the different schools, let me know in the comments below!