The state of Virginia has plenty of exciting career opportunities for individuals looking to start a new professional life as an optician. This ever-growing industry can provide a new pathway that provides stability, job security and competitive pay for many years to come. The job of an optician includes the dispensing and sale of ophthalmic product. Meanwhile, there is a detailed process that must be followed to become a licensed optician in Virginia. As a professional optician, there is the opportunity to work in various settings, such as vision care centers, retail outlets even the potential for opticians to own and operate their own business. Here is a closer look on how to become an optician in Virginia.
MEETING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
In order to begin educational training for a career as an optician in Virginia, candidates must have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalency. There are also a couple of options to consider when seeking out an opticianry education in Virginia. The first option is to complete the required coursework needed to obtain a two-year Opticianry Degree. There is only one accredited college offering this kind of program in the state of Virginia (Reynolds College).
There are also a handful of community colleges offering an optician certificate upon the completion of a one-year program. While each of those aforementioned options differ in curriculums and length, there is a general concentration on the same assortment of skills needed to function as a dispensing optician. These programs will equip candidates with the technical and clinical skills needed to take the national certification exams that will lead to a Virginia optician license. However, those who complete a one-year certification program will then have to undergo a three-year apprenticeship.
An optician apprenticeship in Virginia requires 6,000 hours of on-the-job training, in addition to a full-year of instruction in the field of opticianry. Apprentice training programs operate under the direction of licensed opticians and must be approved by the Virginia State Board of Opticians. Completion of this program will qualify candidates to take the necessary certification exam required to become a licensed optician in Virginia.
The state of Virginia recognizes the optician certification issued by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). This national organization has established widely-accepted standards that cover the essentials when it comes to Ophthalmic materials, optics, spectacle lens grinding, prescription interpretation, administrative duties and much more. Virginia does not require its opticians to earn a certification from the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) in order to obtain a state opticianry license.
VIRGINIA OPTICIAN LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
The state of Virginia opticianry licensing is issued through the Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians which operates under the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. In order to earn a state license, applicants must have completed a two-year opticianry program or completed a three-year apprenticeship that includes one year of instruction. To be approved for state testing, applicants must also have no felony convictions on their record.
The Virginia opticianry state license exam actually uses the ABO exam for the written portion and has developed its own practical portion. There is also the option of taking a second exam, which includes the NCLE exam and state practical exam. Completion of this second exam allows an optician to become “endorsed” to fit contact lenses within the state of Virginia. It is also important to note that this second exam is voluntary. Applicants are not required to pass it in order to dispense eyewear in Virginia. Optician state licenses in Virginia must also be renewed every two years by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
There are no ongoing education requirements for licensed opticians within the state of Virginia. There is, however, a need for opticians to renew their ABO and NCLE credentials every three years. That specifics of that certification renewal is available online at the American Board of Optometry and National Contact Lens Examiners website.
JOB PROSPECTS AND POTENTIAL PAY
With many cities across the state, Virginia offers opticians several options in where to practice. In Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Hampton the median annual salary for the profession is about $39,300. Most opticians in these four cities earn between $36,300 and $47,500. Higher salaries are found in Arlington and Alexandria, where the annual salary for opticians falls between $43,500 and $56,800. In Richmond, opticians earn an annual salary in the range of $39,500 and $51,500. The annual salary for the profession in Newport News falls between $36,300 and $47,500.
National certifications are issued by this organization and a plethora of detailed information is available on this website.
Learn more about this state board that oversees the licensing process for opticians in Virginia.
This state-operated website explains the process of obtaining an optician apprenticeship in Virginia.
News reports, regulatory updates and more helpful information can be found on this website.
See how much opticians working in the state of Virginia earn on a per-year basis, according to varying levels of experience.