The optometry profession is regulated in Canada. Provincial and territorial regulatory bodies of optometrists set the standards for entry into the profession and issue licenses to practice to those eligible.
By law, you can only practice as an optometrist in Canada, or use the title “optometrist,” if you have been authorized by the regulatory body in the province or territory where you intend to work.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) is the national organization that includes ten provincial and territorial associations of optometrists. It represents the interests of over 4000 members across Canada.
There are steps that you can take before you immigrate to improve your chances of practicing your profession in Canada.
Before you immigrate:
- Attend the Know Before You Go Webinar Series to learn more about life in Canada.
- Research how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada and get a general sense of the Canadian labour market.
- Contact the provincial or territorial regulatory body in the area where you intend to settle and work in Canada. Find out about the specific licensing procedure to follow, costs and time required to obtain a license. Also, determine what licensing steps you can take before you immigrate.
- To practice the profession, you need to have advanced English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency. Even if you’re a fluent speaker of English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while in your home country and continue them after moving to Canada.
- Assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your native country. Check with your provincial or territorial regulatory body to find out what documents you need to bring and verify if they need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how the profession of optometry is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with the procedures, regulations, and legislation that govern your profession in the province where you will settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada and make a list of potential employers.
- Find out how to get a driver’s license in Canada and apply for it as soon as you arrive. Having a driver’s license may be useful to help you search for a job.