To become a licensed optician in the State of New Mexico, you must meet minimum educational requirements. You are also required to take the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam. In addition, candidates for licensure must take a practicum exam administered by the New Mexico Board of Optometry. The preparation involved in meeting these requirements is outlined in the following steps.
To prepare for a career in optometry in New Mexico, you need to complete a certificate or associate’s degree program. A high school diploma or equivalent is required in order to enroll in training programs. Various vocational schools and community colleges in New Mexico offer training programs in optometry. Certificate programs cover areas such as optical theory, eye physiology and lens management. Associate’s degree programs are more intensive, and cover areas such as anatomy, dispensing and troubleshooting in eye diagnosis. It is important to select an accredited school in order to meet licensure requirements. The New Mexico Board of Optometry maintains a list of accredited schools offering optometry educational programs.
The New Mexico Board of Optometry does not enforce certification for opticians. A board-administered practicum is used to validate the knowledge and competencies of opticians. In addition, candidates for licensure are required to take an exam given by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO). Nonetheless, once you are licensed to practice in New Mexico, you may want to earn national credentials awarded by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Holding the ABO-NCLE credentials is sure to boost your professional development.
NEW MEXICO OPTICIAN LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
The New Mexico Board of Optometry regulates the practice of optometry. The board requires applicants for licensure to take the NBEO exam. Applicants for licensure should have attained a pass score in all four sections of the NBEO exam. Candidates for licensure are also required to take a New Mexico Board practicum exam, which is focused on testing the clinical skills of candidates preparing to enter into practice. The exam comprises a written section and a clinical section. In the written section, candidates are tested on their knowledge of the board’s statutes and rules. The clinical section comprises four sections, which test candidates’ practical skills in optometry. The clinical exam is given once a year, usually in the second week of August. Candidates must attain a minimum score of 75 percent in all sections of the exam.
MAINTAINING PROFICIENCY THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION
All practicing opticians are required to earn continuing education credits in order to renew licensure. Practicing opticians should have earned at least 22 credit hours in a board-approved optometry program. Out of these hours, a minimum of 10 hours must be in clinical or ocular therapeutic pharmacology. One hour must be in pain management or a related topic. A copy of current CPR certification is also required for license renewal.
JOB PROSPECTS AND POTENTIAL PAY
Salaries for opticians in New Mexico are highest in the capital, Albuquerque, where the median annual salary is about $39,000. Most opticians in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho earn between $36,000 and $47,000 annually. Other top-paying cities for opticians in New Mexico are Santa Fe, where the median annual salary is about $38,000, and Las Cruces, where the median annual salary is about $34,000. In Roswell, the median annual salary is about $32,000.