Canada's Optometry Education Requirements

First, you must graduate with a Doctor of Optometry (OD) from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education in order to practice optometry in Canada.

  1. 1

    Choose the region or province where you want to practice. You need a license in the province or territory where you work to practice optometry in Canada. The requirements are slightly different in each province and territory. But at the very least, the Canadian Assessment of Competency in Optometry (CACO) exam is necessary in all provinces and territories (except Quebec, in certain circumstances). As a result, you can choose where to practice while preparing for the exam. [28]1

    • When you've chosen a province or territory, visit its website to learn more about its specific requirements by visiting the website of its optometry association or college.
    • You do not need to take the CACO exam if you have an OD from the University of Montreal and intend to practice in Quebec.
  2. 2

    If you want to practice in AB, SK, or PEI, get a CPR certificate. To ensure you sign up for and receive a CPR certification, review the registration requirements for the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island. For instance, candidates must possess a Level C Health Care Practitioner (HCP) CPR Certificate in Alberta. The majority of CPR certifications are offered by St John's Ambulance, the Red Cross, or other charities, but they will need you to take a course and take a test in person. [29]1

    • Although only three provinces require CPR certifications, you can complete the necessary CPR training anywhere.
  3. 3

    Send a completed application and the necessary fees to the relevant college. Fill out the necessary registration form and return it to the college or association with the other necessary materials as directed by the website for the province or territory for which you are applying. Pay your application fee at the same time as well. For instance, as part of the application process, some colleges or organizations may demand a notarized photo or copy of government identification. In other circumstances, the college or organization might demand that the application form be witnessed. [30]1 [31]1

    • There will be a unique set of fees for each province and territory. For instance, registering in Ontario costs more than $450 CAD.
    • You might also need to pay a yearly membership fee to the provincial or territorial college or association in addition to the application fee. That expense is more than $1,000 CAD annually in Ontario.
  4. 4

    Send the licensing body a copy of your official OD program transcript. Once you've chosen the province or territory where you plan to practice, ask the relevant college or association to send an official copy of your post-secondary transcripts. Contact the registrar's office at the University of Waterloo or the University of Montreal to make this request. There might be a small fee associated with this service.

    • Along with official transcripts, some provinces or territories may also require you to submit a notarized copy of your OD diploma. [32]1
    • An official transcript is one that is sent by mail directly from the university to the college or organization. You are not allowed to handle an official transcript as a former student.
  5. 5

    Examine your knowledge of optometry by taking the CACO test. A passport-style color photo, a copy of a current passport (Canadian or foreign), a copy of a Canadian or US citizenship certificate, resident card, driver's license, or birth certificate, and a MasterCard or Visa are required when you are ready to register for the exam. When ready, register for the exam and pay the associated fee on the OEBC website. [33]1 [34]1

    • To register for the CACO exam, visit the Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC) website at http://www.oebc.ca/written-osce/exam-registration.
    • Exams can only be taken in Hamilton, Ontario, or Montreal, Quebec.
    • The exam is only offered twice a year by the OEBC, in the spring and fall.
    • The exam costs ,100 Canadian.
  6. 6

    Pass the provincial law exam or attend an info session in Quebec. Except for Quebec, every province and territory demands that practicing optometrists take and pass a jurisprudence exam. The exam is unique to that province or territory, as well as the local optometry college or association. As a result, when you submit your application or registration form, the college or association will register you for the exam. The law exam is primarily open-book and is pass or fail only. [35]1

    • You have one year from the date you submitted an application or registered to take the jurisprudence exam in some provinces and territories.
    • You only need to attend an information session about working in the province of Quebec if you graduated from the University of Waterloo and want to practice there.
  7. 7

    In all provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, obtain a criminal history check In the province or territory where you plan to practice, submit a request for a criminal history check. Some provinces, like New Brunswick, may demand an RCMP-level criminal history check. Since you will be working with children and vulnerable adults as an optometrist, you almost always need a Vulnerable Sector type record check. [36]1

    • Avoid applying for your criminal background check too far in advance because it may only be valid for up to six months after the date your registration is issued in some provinces.
  8. 8

    In SK, MB, QC, PEI, and NL, you can obtain a letter confirming your liability insurance. To practice in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador, you must present a letter confirming liability insurance from your insurance company. For instance, you need to have $2 million in coverage per occurrence in Saskatchewan. It's possible that the practice where you work already has this coverage if you have an optometry job in one of these provinces. [37]1

    • If you do not intend to open your own practice and have not been able to locate a specific optometry job in one of these provinces, you will need to find out how to submit proof of insurance.
  9. 9

    If you intend to practice in NB, PEI, or NL, provide references. Have three eyecare specialists in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island submit a private evaluation form on your behalf to the college or association. Have two experts in Newfoundland and Labrador write letters of recommendation about your character for the college or association. [38]1

    • For more information, you will typically need to speak with the college or association's office directly.
  10. 10

    Obtain your optical license and begin practicing as an optician. You will receive your license to practice optometry once you have completed and submitted all of the provincial or territorial licensing requirements. If the college or association hasn't asked for any more information or proof, you can now begin working as an optometrist in that province or territory. You can begin working at an established practice or open your own. But you'll need to make a sizable investment and submit more paperwork and applications if you want to open your own practice. [39]1

    • For more details on establishing your own practice, visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists website at https://opto.ca/.
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