Oregon falls within a group of about half of the US states that have little or no requirements in order to practice as an optician. This means that the profession is neither licensed nor regulated in Oregon. Consequently, employers of opticians in Oregon typically set their own hiring requirements. However, it helps if you acquire formal training for the profession and seek certification. Opticians who have undergone formal training and hold credentials tend to enjoy more job opportunities in the field. The steps below will help you in preparing to enter practice as an optician in Oregon.
MEETING TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Training to become an optician in Oregon can be accomplished through formal education or completing an apprenticeship. A few schools in Oregon offer programs in opticianry or vision care. Opticianry programs equip students with skills that allow them to make and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. Training programs are generally offered at the certificate or associate degree levels. These programs equip students with basic skills in opticianry, hence preparing them for entry-level positions in the field. The curriculum covers various areas of vision care such as medical terminology, ophthalmic dispensing, optical laboratory skills, optical dispensing theory, and contact lenses. Training also includes some courses in business to prepare students for the business role involved during practice in an optical outlet. Most programs also require students to complete a clinical component to enhance practical competencies in the field. Formal education programs are designed to be completed in two years. If you wish to complete an apprenticeship, it is best to make enquiries with a well-established optician in your locality.
OPTIONAL CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
Although Oregon does not have certification and licensing requirements for opticians, it is best to seek industry-standard certifications. The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) offer nationally recognized certifications for opticians seeking to validate their knowledge and competencies. Opticians who are just getting started in the field may want to seek the basic certification, while more experienced opticians may target the advanced certification. Both certifications are issued for three years. Earning the ABO-NCLE credentials helps to set you apart in the field. Not all employers in Oregon insist on an optician holding these credentials, but the ABO-NCLE certifications help to assure employers that you are well trained and highly qualified for practice. Moreover, opticians who hold national certifications, such as the ABO-NCLE, tend to attract higher salaries than their non-certified counterparts. When it comes to hiring opticians, employers have a preference for certified opticians, because they require less training and assure customer satisfaction. Furthermore, as a certified optician, you are assured of more job opportunities.
MAINTAINING OPTICIAN CERTIFICATION AND CONTINUING EDUCATION
Opticians who have earned the ABO-NCLE certifications need to renew these periodically. Renewal of certifications aims to ensure that opticians remain current in the field. Both the basic and advanced certifications must be renewed every three years. As part of the renewal procedure, you are required to earn a specified number of continuing education credits during each three-year certification phase. The ABO-NCLE site maintains a list of approved continuing education programs pertaining to continuing education requirements.
JOB PROSPECTS AND POTENTIAL PAY
Oregon is one of the promising areas for the optician profession. In Oregon’s large cities, such as Portland, Eugene and Gresham, the median annual salary for the profession is about $44,000. Many opticians in the state’s large cities draw an annual salary of between $41,000 and $53,000. Annual salaries in cities, such as Salem, range between $39,000 and $51,000, while in Hillsboro, opticians typically earn between $41,000 and $54,000 annually.