If you’re keen on a career in Florida’s vision care sector, you may want to consider opticianry. As an optician in Florida, your work will involve interpreting prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists, guiding customers in selection of appropriate eyewear, and educating customers about care of their eyeglasses and contact lenses. Work settings for opticians include physician offices, optical outlets and department stores. To practice as an optician in Florida, you need formal training and must be certified. The practice of opticianry in Florida is governed by the Florida Board of Opticianry. The board provides two routes in preparing for practice. You may either complete a formal education program, or may opt to complete an apprenticeship. The steps outlined below will help you in preparing for opticianry practice in Florida.
Formal training for opticians in Florida is offered by various vocational schools and community colleges. Training institutions are found in many of Florida’s cities, and offer both school-based and online instruction. You may choose between a certificate program and associate’s degree program. Both programs prepare students for an entry-level position in the field. Certificate programs typically take six to eight months to complete, but may extend to one year, depending on the school. Associate’s degree programs are designed to be completed in 24 months. Training programs impart basic skills in vision care to students through a curriculum that integrates theoretical and practical knowledge. Areas covered by the curriculum include optics, anatomy, contact lenses, eyewear fabrication, and refractometry. Programs also train students in customer service skills and business knowledge. Associate’s degree programs usually have a clinical component to enhance development of practical skills, whereby students complete a course in a clinical setting. It is important that you select an accredited school for your opticianry training. If you wish to pursue the apprenticeship option, completion of high school education is a basic educational prerequisite. Apprentices are required to complete 6,240 hours of training for a period not exceeding five years. Training must be performed under the direct supervision of a licensed optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist.
FLORIDA OPTICIAN CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
The Florida Board of Opticianry provides two options in seeking certification. You may seek certification from the American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE), which issues national certification for the opticianry profession. The ABO-NCLE issues both basic and advanced certifications. The other option is to seek certification by taking the National Optician’s Practical Examination, which is administered by the National Commission on State Opticianry Regulatory Boards (NCSORB).
STATE LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
Applicants for licensure are expected to show evidence of successful completion of formal training. This may include an educational program or an apprenticeship. To qualify for licensure in Florida, you must also show evidence of successfully taking a certification exam. Certifications may be earned by taking the ABO-NCLE certification exam, or taking the exam administered by the National Commission on State Opticianry Regulatory Boards. A practicing license is issued for one year, and expires on December 31st.
MAINTAINING PROFICIENCY THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION
ABO-NCLE certifications are awarded for three years. Renewal of credentials requires completion of continuing education programs specified by the ABO-NCLE. The ABO-NCLE website provides details on continuing education requirements for the basic and advanced certifications. In addition, the Florida Board of Opticianry requires applicants for licensure renewal to have completed 20 hours of continuing education each year. Out of these hours, 11 hours must relate to technical practices of opticianry, two hours must relate to medical errors, two hours must be dedicated to laws and rules, and five hours are reserved for electives that meet board criteria.
FLORIDA OPTICIAN POTENTIAL PAY
With several cities strategically located from coast to coast, Florida offers opticians many choices in where to practice. Jacksonville, which has a population of close to 1 million, offers some of the best job prospects for the profession. Most opticians in Jacksonville earn between $36,800 and $48,000. The well-populated cities of Miami, Tampa and Saint Petersburg reflect a similar annual salary that falls between $37,500 and $49,000. Tallahassee, the state capital reflects a slightly lower annual salary that ranges between $35,700 and $46,600. Nonetheless, for the most part, the annual salary in many of Florida’s cities compares well with the national mean of $36,820. One of the highest annual salary ranges for the profession is found in Fort Lauderdale and Pembroke Pines, where most opticians earn between $38,100 and $49,700.