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STEPS TO BECOME AN OPTICIAN IN NEW JERSEY

Opticians working in New Jersey enjoy one of the most professionally rewardingnew-jersey experiences in the US. To become an optician in New Jersey, you need to meet minimum educational requirements. You must also be granted license to practice by the New Jersey State Board of Examiners of Ophthalmic Dispensers and Ophthalmic Technicians. Both formal education and practical experience are required in order to be licensed as an optician in New Jersey. Practical experience is acquired by completing an apprenticeship with a licensed optician. The preparation involved in becoming an optician in New Jersey is outlined in the steps below.

EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

In seeking an educational program in opticianry, two routes to licensure are available in New Jersey. As an initial step, you require a high school diploma or equivalent in order to enroll in a formal opticianry educational program. Training institutions in New Jersey offer both certificate programs and associate’s degree programs. You may choose to pursue a certificate in ophthalmic science or an associate’s degree in ophthalmic science. The certificate program includes courses in anatomy, lens management and eye physiology. Students also learn how to fit and adjust eyewear. The associate’s degree program includes courses in anatomy, ophthalmic materials, eye physiology, fabrication, dispensing, and problem solving of eyewear. It is important to select a program that has been accredited by the Commission of Opticianry Accreditation (COA).

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APPLY FOR AN APPRENTICE PERMIT IN NEW JERSEY

Completing an apprentice is part of the training involved in becoming an optician in New Jersey. Once you have earned your certificate or associate’s degree in ophthalmic science, you need to apply for an apprentice’s permit. This will allow you to build valuable hands-on experience in opticianry. If your educational program was at the certificate level, you will be required to complete a 36-month apprenticeship. Those who earned an associate’s degree are required to complete a four-month apprenticeship. The application process takes about six to eight weeks.

NEW JERSEY LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

Licensing is a requirement in order to provide optical services to customers in New Jersey. The New Jersey State Board of Examiners of Ophthalmic Dispensers and Ophthalmic Technicians grants licenses to qualified applicants who successfully meet all licensure requirements. In order to be considered for licensure, you must have earned a certificate in ophthalmic science or an associate’s degree in ophthalmic science. You must also have completed an apprentice program with a licensed optician. Applicants for licensure are also required to take the state board exam.

MAINTAINING PROFICIENCY THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION

Continuing education is a requirement for licensed opticians in New Jersey. Opticians applying for their first renewal are exempted from the continuing education requirement. However, they must earn credits during subsequent renewal periods. The board requires opticians to earn 12 credits, with three credits in contact lens dispensing. To earn your continuing education credits, you must physically attend a class. The New Jersey State Board of Examiners of Ophthalmic Dispensers and Ophthalmic Technicians does not accept credits earned through distance learning or Internet instruction.

JOB PROSPECTS AND POTENTIAL PAY

Located just next door to New York, the nation’s fashion capital, New Jersey constantly keeps up with leading fashion trends. Eye glasses are a major fashion statement in New Jersey. This creates high demand for optician services, besides their role in eye healthcare. New Jersey is one of the top-paying regions for opticians in the US. Although salaries vary across the state, the large cities of New Jersey, such as Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, and Edison, reflect comparatively higher salaries for the profession. The median annual salary in Newark is about $51,000. Many opticians in Newark earn between $46,000 and $61,000.

RESOURCES

Commission of Opticianry Accreditation (COA)

New Jersey Board of Examiners of Ophthalmic Dispensers and Ophthalmic Technicians

New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians

Opticians Association of New Jersey