Opticians NOC 3231 may also be called:
- Contact lens fitter
- Eyeglasses/frame fitter
Optometrist Assistants NOC 3414 may also be called:
- Optical laboratory technician
What Would I Do?
Fit clients with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, help clients select eyeglass frames, arrange for the production of eyeglasses or contact lenses and mount lenses in eyeglass frames. Duties may include:
- do automated refractions (sight tests)
- get specifications for eyeglasses or contact lenses from a prescription prepared by an ophthalmologist or optometrist or by analyzing clients’ eyeglasses or contact lenses and measuring clients’ eye curvature, pupillary distance and bridge width, using optical measuring devices
- help clients to select eyeglasses by advising on lens materials, frames, tints and anti-reflection coating
- advise on use and care of contact lenses
- arrange for grinding and polishing of lenses or grind and polish lenses
- cut and edge lenses and fit lenses into frames
- adjust finished eyeglasses to fit clients
Provide services and assistance to optometrists, opticians or other health care professionals. Duties may include:
- patient reception, scheduling appointments and referrals
- conducting preliminary vision tests prior to the eye health examination
- make minor repairs for customers such as replacing frame screws or straightening frames
- operate laboratory equipment to grind, cut, polish and edge lenses for eyeglasses according to prescriptions received and fit lenses into frames
- maintain and repair optical laboratory equipment or machinery
- WorkBC Career Profile for Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (including Optometrist Assistants)
Am I Suited For This Job?
Opticians and Optometrist Assistants should be:
- able to work well with your hands
They should have:
- good communication and interpersonal skills
Opticians work indoors in well-lit, comfortable surroundings.
What Are The Wages And Benefits?
Opticians: WorkBC reports that in British Columbia the median annual salary for Opticians is approximately $41,941.
JobBank Canada lists hourly wages for BC’s regions where opticians can expect to make:
Table from Job Bank Canada Wage Report
Full-time opticians often receive benefits, such as dental coverage and sick days. Those who run their own businesses must cover the costs of these things themselves. Opticians working in retail stores may earn (in addition to their regular salaries) commissions based on the number of glasses each optician sells.
Optometrist Assistants: WorkBC reports that in British Columbia the median annual salary for all ‘Assisting Occupations** in support of Health Services’, including optometrist assistants, is approximately $43,798.
- **Assisting Occupations include: Optical and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and assistants (optometrist assistant) AND orthopedic technologists, rehabilitation assistants, pharmacy aides, sterile processing technicians, blood donor clinic assistants, morgue attendants
JobBank Canada lists hourly wages for BC’s regions where ‘Assisting Occupations’ including optometrist assistants can expect to make:
Table from Job Bank Canada Wage Report
Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (including Optometrist Assistants)
What Is The Job Outlook In BC?
Opticians: Job openings will come from retirements and new job creation.
The demand for optical services is rising due to provincial population growth and aging. British Columbia’s growing population will require more optical products, such as glasses and contact lenses. In addition, as B.C.’s population ages, a larger portion of the population will need enhanced vision aids such as corrective lenses and bifocal contact lenses. Also, with the large number of people using computers in their jobs, special “task-specific” lenses help reduce eye fatigue, further maintaining the need for opticians.
WorkBC provides regional employment outlooks for three regions:
- Vancouver/Lower Mainland: projecting 1.9% average annual employment growth for 2015-2025 with 380 job openings
- Thompson Okanagan: projecting 1.3% average annual employment growth for 2015-2025 with 110 job openings
- Vancouver Island/Coast: projecting 0.4% average annual employment growth for 2015-2025 with 110 job openings
JobBank Canada reports that for the 2016-2018 period, the employment outlook is expected to be good for Opticians (NOC 3231) in British Columbia. Employment growth is expected to be strong and a large number of people are expected to retire.
Source: WorkBC Career Profile for Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (including Optometrist Assistants)
How Do I Become an Optician or Optometrist Assistant
Successful completion of an accredited optician program at an institution recognized by the College of Opticians of British Columbia (COBC)
(for accredited institutions, see: COBC: Training and Education)
Opticians who have completed their education must then write and pass the NACOR (National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators) national licensing exam (see, NACOR: National Examination and COBC: Examinations)
College of Opticians of BC (COBC) registers/certifies opticians in BC who have completed an accredited education program, passed the NACOR exam, have a clear criminal record check and met other COBC registration requirements. COBC will designate successful registrants with these titles, “Licensed Optician”, “Registered Optician”, or “Refracting Optician”. The College licenses opticians in the following registration classes:
- Registered Optician – Eyeglass Dispensing
- Registered Optician – Contact Lens and Eyeglass Dispensing
- Registered Optician – Contact Lens Student
- Registered Optician – Non Practicing
Internationally Educated Opticians
College of Opticians of BC has a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process that assesses the candidate’s eligibility to become a licensed optician in BC. This assessment entails an initial document assessment, a Competency Gap Analysis, and in-person interview. These assessment results are then considered by the Registration Committee to ascertain if the candidate is eligible to challenge the national examination (NACOR) or must complete bridging courses to meet the entry-to-practice standards for opticianry in Canada.
To be considered to be exempt from examination, applicants who have not completed a certification examination approved by the COBC must supply the following information:
i. License Opticians scope of practice statement from their current jurisdiction
ii. outline of the License Opticians programs they have completed which normally includes the learning outcomes of each of the courses within the program as well as a transcript of completion
iii. A blue print or candidates hand book for the examination or in absence of such a document copies of examinations.
In BC, no certification is required to work as an optometrist assistant. Most employers look for successful completion of secondary education and some experience in a retail or health clinic environment. Most assistants receive on the job training at a retail optometry store or clinic.
Certified Optometric Assistant CCOA program [voluntary certification]
Optometrist assistants interested in advancing their skills may apply to the Canadian Certified Optometric Assistant CCOA program, an online distance education program. The CCOA program includes nine course modules, a practicum, one workshop and a final examination.
Application requirements include current employment with a CAO – Canadian Association of Optometrists member optometrist for the duration of the CCOA program.
How Do I Find A Job?
Where would I work?
- optical retail stores and laboratories
- physicians’ offices,
- medical laboratories
- large chain stores
- other establishments with optical dispensing departments
Finding Advertised Jobs
Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.
You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.
Online Job Postings
- BC (chapter) Doctors of Optometry Canada
(scroll down and click on link for ‘Opportunities for Optometric Assistants/Opticians’)
Eye Optometry jobs in British Columbia
Optician jobs in British Columbia
Optometric Assistant jobs in Vancouver, BC
Finding “Hidden Jobs”
Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below will help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.
Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers
You can use directories to produce lists of employers who are in this industry. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.
- BC Doctors of Optometry (BC Association of Optometrists)
- Reference Canada
Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
In the top search box enter “opticians” OR “optometrists” and click LOOKUP.
Select the appropriate headings, e.g. “optometrists OD”.
Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).
Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies
Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.
Networking and the Hidden Job Market:
When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.
- Third World Eye Society Canada – TWECS
a local BC chapter of VOSH – Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity
[primarily sponsors eye health care projects outside Canada]
TWECS: Eyeglass Recycling [local individuals needed to recycle eyeglasses]
Volunteering in Health Care Facilities
The following organizations accept volunteers in hospitals, residential care facilities, adult day centres, and other community settings.
- Fraser Health Authority
(services and information for pregnant women)
For additional tips see:
Applying for a Job
In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your experience. Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
For more information see:
Where Can This Job Lead?
With experience, opticians may progress to Senior Optician, and eventually to a position as supervisor or manager of an eyecare retail store.
Source: Career Cruising database (Profile for ‘Optician’)