Frequently Asked Questions About:

1.  Why do I need to be licensed?  What does the College do for me?

The College sets the framework for the professional self-regulated profession of opticianry to protect the public in British Columbia. This means that the College establishes and supports the standards of care and acts when the standards are not being met. The public trusts that Licensed Opticians provide high quality, competent and professional care to help health care consumers achieve better vision. 

As a Licensed Optician, the public will be able to find you on the College's online registry; can trust that you adhere to the College's Standards of Practice, Bylaws and Code of Ethics; and are accountable for your services. 

2.  When is my registration renewal deadline?

Registrants are required to submit their renewal form along with supporting documentation and payment by March 31 every year. The COBC registration runs from April 1 to March 31.

2019 renewals - Registrants are required to submit their renewal form along with supporting documentation and payment by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 31, 2019. Registrants will receive their annual registration renewal notice in mid-February via email. 

3.  I have been suspended.  How do I reinstate my license?

Besides disciplinary action, the College suspends registrants for two main reasons: non-payment of fees, and incomplete quality assurance requirements. Please ensure that the College has your updated and preferred email address, and that you advise the College of any other change of address or contact information to ensure you receive all communication regarding your license. 

If you wish to reinstate and your license has been suspended for 3 years or less, you must submit the following:
  1. Reinstatement of registration form (contact the College office to request one); 
  2. Proof of completion of quality assurance requirements (CE or CCP); 
  3. Criminal record check completion
  4. Reinstatement fee of $290 for each suspended or cancelled year; and 
  5. The current year's annual renewal of registration fee.
If your license has been suspended for over 3 years, the Registration Committee will review your application for reinstatement, which may result in an assessment of your opticianry skills and knowledge and the need for bridging courses to be completed. Please contact the College for further guidance. 

4.  How do I transfer my license to another province or territory in Canada?

Licensed Opticians in British Columbia must request a Letter of Good Standing from the College to be sent to the regulatory body in the other province/territory. This letter advises the province or territory you are moving to that all licensure requirements are up to date, including fees, continuing education requirements, and criminal record checks. You will also have to submit a registration application to the regulatory body of the province/territory you are moving to.

Similarly, an applicant for registration entering British Columbia who is in good standing in another province or territory of Canada will be accepted for registration without further examination in the category s/he meets the general registration requirements for, provided the College receives a Letter of Good Standing and completed registration application.

5.  When can I apply for non-practicing status?

Non-practicing status is for Opticians not working within the field of opticianry. Most Opticians with non-practicing status work in another field or are on medical or parental leave.

Non-practicing Licensed Opticians should not be employed in the Province of BC in opticinary or practicing under the supervision of an eye care professional. If your license has been non- practicing for over 3 years, the Registration Committee will review your application for practicing, which may result in an assessment of your opticianry skills and knowledge and the need for bridging courses to be completed. Please contact the College for further guidance. 

6.  I did not graduate from an accredited institution in Canada.  Can I apply for registration?

Yes, the College 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 or must complete bridging courses to meet the entry-to-practice standards for opticianry in Canada.

7.  How do I complete my certification as an Automated Refracting Optician?

To become certified as an Automated Refracting Optician, registrants must first finish an approved program of study and submit Form 4-Notification of Use of Automated Refraction Equipment, which can be found on our website under Resources. You can also submit your application online. Please click here, and choose "Change Status" from the registration options. Once you have submitted the Form 4, you will be contacted by College staff for the online jurisprudence seminar.

8.  Why do I need a Criminal Records Re-check?

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (MPSSG) requires all professionals working with children or vulnerable adults to undergo a criminal record check every five years.  A criminal records check conducted by the RCMP does not satisfy the MPSSG's requirements.

9.  What is the minimum amount of professional liability insurance I need?  What does the College consider proof of insurance?

Registrants are required to have a minimum of $1,000,000 (one million) in professional liability insurance on a per occurrence basis at all times.  The College requires a certificate of insurance that indicates that your insurance is valid for the entire licensure cycle (April 1- March 31) and that the insurance policy provides a minimum of $1,000,000 on a per occurrence basis.

1.  How many credits do I need for my continuing education requirements to be fulfilled?

If you are still on the MCE program and need to submit credits when your cycle ends in either 2018 or 2019, you need to submit 21 credits (if you are a Registered Optician) or 36 credits (if you are a Contact Lens Fitter) at the end of your cycle. If your cycle ends in 2020 or later, you are on the new program, and your requirements no longer involve credits.

2.  Does the College keep track of my CE credits?

No, the College does not keep track of CE credits throughout your Mandatory Continuing Education cycle. It is the registrant's responsibility to keep track of credits attained and to keep an updated record of credit slips to submit to the College at the end of their MCE cycle.

The College does however keep track of any carry over credits from past cycles. Registrants can have a maximum of 12 carry over credits. If you are unsure of how many carry over credits you have, please contact the College.

3.  I still need to complete a few more CE requirements. How do I complete my remaining CE requirements?

In-person and online courses are not the only way to complete your credits. You can complete your continuing education requirements through study clubs, supervising student opticians, or volunteer work. The College welcomes creative methods of furthering your knowledge of opticianry and completing MCE requirements. If you need consultation on how to complete your CE requirements, please contact the College.

4.  What are 'Professional Providers' and why do the majority of my credits need to come from them?

Professional providers include Canadian education institutions accredited by the College, such as NAIT or Douglas College; national and provincial Licensed Opticians associations; and approved study clubs.

Professional providers ensure that all registrants have access to CE activities and that their continuing education is specific and relevant to contemporary opticianry research and technological developments. Registrants can complete 1/3 of their CE requirements through 'other providers', which includes private training, industry corporations, and allied professions.

5.  Do I still need to complete MCE requirements if I am non-practicing?

Yes, non-practicing registrants are still required to complete MCE requirements.  Non-practicing status is designed for registrants who are temporarily not working as an optician.  These registrants are still entitled to use the restricted title 'Optician' and therefore must maintain the same requirements as those who are practicing.

6. This MCE program is being phased out, so when I complete my current credit cycle I will be starting on the new Continuing Competency Program (CCP). What do I need to know?

You can find more information about the new education program here, or find a separate FAQ document specific to the program here.

1.  Who should apply for PLAR?

You should apply for PLAR if you have graduated from a non-accredited institution-either national or international.  If you are an internationally trained optometrist or other eye health professional, the PLAR process may also be appropriate for you.

2.  Can I do the Competency Gap Analysis (CGA) from my home country?

No, to ensure the security of the CGA, candidates are required to write the assessment in the College's office.  You can however submit the documents required for the initial document assessment to begin the PLAR process from your home country.

3.  What are the steps involved in PLAR?

The PLAR candidate may be required to complete all 7 of the following steps:
Applicant applies for registration
Preliminary assessment of application
Assessment of applicant (CGA and In-person interview)
Registration Committee assesses information
Additional education
Proceed to COBC registration
For more information please visit the 'Becoming an Optician' page or contact the College.

4.  How long does the PLAR process take?

The PLAR process generally takes 3-6 months before receiving the Registration Committee's decision.  The College strives to process every application in a timely and efficient manner.

If the Registration Committee determines that the applicant must complete additional education prior to registration, it will take longer for the applicant to be eligible to challenge the National Examination due to the length of time required to complete bridging module(s).
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