Pennsylvania’s large cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, offer many job prospects for well-trained and credentialed licensed dispensing opticians. The practice and regulation of the opticianry profession is regulated by the State Board of Optometry. Qualified optometrists and eligible licensees obtain their initial licensure from the board. In order to apply for a practicing license in Pennsylvania, you need to have successfully completed a formal training program, as well as achieve passing scores in the national certifying exam. The exact steps that will help you to prepare for licensure in Pennsylvania are outlined below.
MEETING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
In order to enroll for a formal training program in opticianry in Pennsylvania, you must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Educational programs are offered by various vocational schools, community colleges and universities. Certificate programs take a shorter duration to complete, usually about one year. If you prefer to earn an associate’s degree, you need to check program availability from community colleges. A few schools in Pennsylvania offer a four-year degree in opticianry, to prepare students for licensure and practice. Training programs equip students with knowledge and skills in coursework as well as clinical practice. Some of the courses taken by students impart knowledge on the anatomy of the visual system, optical theory, and patient care. To prepare them for the business aspects of the profession, students also take courses in office management practice. Some programs have an internship requirement, which allows students to apply their training in an established optical outlet.
Once you complete your formal training in opticianry, the Pennsylvania State Board of Optometry requires that you take a certification exam. The exam is used to validate the knowledge and skills of opticians, thus preparing them for seeking licensure. The board uses the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam for certification purposes. Candidates seeking certification can check with the NBEO website for details on exam dates and testing centers.
PENNSYLVANIA OPTICIAN LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
The State Board of Optometry requires all applicants for licensure to have graduated from an accredited school of optometry. Applicants seeking a license for practice must check for all licensure requirements from the State Board of Optometry. The board stipulates the completion of professional training from an accredited optometric educational institution. Applicants for licensure must also have successfully taken the NBEO exam. The board stipulates the attainment of a pass score in Parts I, II and III of the NBEO exam, or achieving a pass score in Part III, as well as the treatment and management of ocular disease (TMOD) section. Once granted a license by the board, it remains active until November 30th of every even-numbered year. Dispensing opticians can apply for renewal of licensure, provided they have completed the stipulated continuing education units.
MAINTAINING PROFICIENCY THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION
Practicing opticians in Pennsylvania are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education, in order to apply for license renewal. A list of approved continuing education program providers, as well as courses offered, is available at the State Board of Optometry. The board permits no more than 7.5 hours for online and correspondence studies.
JOB PROSPECTS AND POTENTIAL PAY
If you plan on practicing as an optician in Pittsburgh, you can expect a median annual salary of about $41,000. However, this amount does not include bonus and benefits. Many opticians in Pittsburgh earn between $38,000 and $45,500 in annual salary. In Philadelphia, the annual salary for the profession ranges between $41,500 and $54,000. In Allentown, optician annual salaries fall between $38,500 and $50,000, and in Erie, the annual salary ranges between $37,000 and $48,500. In Reading, opticians earn an annual salary of between $41,000 and $53,000.