Opticians address the eyewear needs of customers. This includes preparing eyewear, serving customers who seek glasses or contacts, fitting and adjusting eyewear according to prescription plus customer specifications. The job also involves educating customers about eyewear issues. Modest business tasks for opticians involve keeping sales records and maintaining inventory. Opticians may work in the offices of healthcare practitioners or may run their own optical business. The training and preparation to become an optician are outlined below.
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Optician Training and Education
Training to become an optician is offered through certificate and associate degree programs. Most formal training programs require one to have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many community colleges and technical training institutions offer training programs at the certificate and associate degree levels. Certificate programs may take one year to complete, while associate degree programs are more intensive, and can be completed in two years. Courses of study include optical theory, eye physiology, lens technology, ophthalmic dispensing, and laboratory sessions. Both certificate and associate degree programs prepare students for an entry-level position in the field. To be certain of receiving a quality education, be sure to select a school that is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation.
It is best to select a training program that offers an internship experience as this provides an opportunity for building vital job skills. Through an internship, a student can practically develop skills in measuring a customer’s eyes and adjusting frames. Internships also allow students to learn various office management practices. Some individuals opt to complete an apprenticeship with a practicing optician. By completing a two-year apprenticeship, one can build valuable skills and knowledge required to practice.
The American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE) provides certification for qualified opticians. Earning certification validates your skills and knowledge, which enhances job prospects. Certification by the ABO-NCLE is offered at three levels ─ basic certification, advanced certification and masters designation. In order to earn certification, a candidate must attain a pass score in a series of exams. Certification exams also assess a candidate’s practical skills. All three certifications are valid for three years.
Applying for a Practicing License
Almost half of the US states have licensing requirements in place for practicing. However, these requirements are not uniform across states. Licensing requirements may require students to take and pass a state-administered written and practical exam, or candidates may be required to earn credentials awarded by the ABO-NCLE. Many states use the ABO-NCLE certification exams to grant state licensing. In some states, candidates must take and pass specific exams administered by the state in order to meet licensing requirements. For accurate information on licensing, it is best to check with the opticianry licensing board in your state.
Keeping Your Optician Certification Current
Credentials earned from the ABO-NCLE must be renewed every three years. Certification must be renewed before the expiry date. This is accomplished by earning continuing education credits within the period of current certification.
Professional Resources for Opticians
American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE)
American Optometric Association
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
Commission on Opticianry Accreditation