Advanced ABO Certification

The American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners was first introduced in 1976 as a way of providing standards of excellence for opticians throughout the country. Since that time, the ABO certification continues to be looked upon with high regard in the industry. The ABO-NCLE certifies opticians at different skill and experience levels. The ABO-NCLE operates as a non-profit organization and its certifications have become the norm for those who make a living dispensing eyewear. There is a thorough process for issuing certifications as the ABO-NCLE has a distinct format for recognizing qualified opticians with the appropriate certifications. 

ABO Advanced Optician Certification

The ABO Advanced Certification is not for those who are just entering into the industry. This certification is reserved for opticians who have already acquired an ABO Basic Certification. Once an ABO Basic Certification is obtained, it is then good for a period of three years. When those three years have passed, opticians have the option of taking an ABO Advanced Certification exam. Passing this exam elevates the status of an optician, indicating a higher level of skill and knowledge. During the three-year period in which an optician holds a Basic Certification, he/she must complete at least 12 credit hours of continuing education. Those who have obtained an Advanced Certification can find employment in pretty much every business that deals with eyewear dispensing.

The Advanced Certification should not be confused with a state license. There are currently 21 states that require dispensing opticians to obtain a license from their respective state opticianry board. An Advanced Certification will not suffice those state requirements. However, an Advanced Certification will improve the job prospects and potential pay rate for opticians.

Exam Structure

The Advanced Certification exam consists of 125 multiple choice questions and takes three hours to complete. The test can only be taken at an official ABO testing center and is offered on a quarterly basis. Test dates are set in the months of February, May, August and November.

The exam is administered through a secured computer at any of the 300 testing centers across the country. Applicants must be approved based on their three years of experience as an optician with a Basic Certification. The ABO requires a $225 registration fee that is non-refundable. There is also a $75 late fee as well as a $75 transfer fee in the event that an applicant has to change his/her test date.

The structure of the exam is designed to test the analytic, evaluative and general knowledge of opticians. The target group for this exam is advanced level opticians.

Exam Preparation

There are a variety of ways to prepare for this examination and that includes practice exams, tutorials, DVDs and online courses. Experience in the field should also help as should the continuing education credits opticians are expected to earn en route to earning an advanced certification. There are a variety of topics covered on the Advanced Certification exam and opticians should have a firm understanding of the following:

  • Analysis of patient prescriptions
  • Evaluation of eyewear parameters
  • Understanding of eyewear instrumentation
  • Determination of fabrication methods
  • Assessment of complex
  • Correct use of ophthalmic instrumentation
  • Application of legal knowledge for equipment maintenance

Preparing to take the Advanced Certification exam requires an understanding of more complex procedures and aspects of opticianry. That is part of the reason why opticians have to acquire three years of experience before taking this exam as it is not intended to be for entry-level opticians.

An on-screen scientific calculator will be available for use when taking this computer-based exam. Test takers are not permitted to bring anything into the testing center and no questions are permitted during the three-hour period. The tests are scored based upon a criterion reference model.

ABO Certification Exam Topics

The Advanced ABO certification covers more advanced topics than what is listed on the Basic Certification exam. The test covers a wide array of domains and tasks. Those looking to study broader areas of opticianry can focus on the following areas as they apply to the profession:

  • Interpretation and Analysis of Prescriptions
  • Dispensing and Fitting Spectacles
  • Geometric and Applied Optics
  • Ethical and Professional Conduct
  • Mathematics

The largest portion of the exam (39%) covers dispensing eyewear and other ophthalmic devices. This involves the design and fitting of eyewear. In this section, questions test an optician’s knowledge when it comes to evaluating frame measurements and eyewear in relation to the face of a patient.

Another significant part of the exam (38%) focuses on the analysis and interpretation of visual assessment. This includes the recognition of prescription limitations as well as the assessment of any medical abnormalities related to the patient’s vision.

The third and final section of the Advanced Examination deals with the use of ophthalmic instrumentation and comprises 23% of the exam. Test takers will be asked to explain how this instrumentation is used through most of this section. Analysis and evaluation are also emphasized heavily in this final section of the Advanced Certification exam.

ABO Advanced Certification Renewal

An Advanced ABO Certification will remain valid for a period of three years. During that three-year period, opticians must take steps towards the renewal process. Those steps include the accumulation of 12 continuing education credits. The credits used for the renewal must be earned during the three-year period in which an optician holds his/her advanced certification. No pre-existing credits can be used.

A minimum of six of those credit hours must be ABO-approved and of the Ophthalmic Level II or III distinctions. The remaining six credits can be Ophthalmic or Non-Ophthalmic, but must be approved by the ABO or NCLE. There is a $125 few that must also be paid to complete the renewal process.

In the states that require continuing education for a license, opticians may submit proof of their continuing education credits through their state license renewal. Certifications that lapse can be reinstated, although that requires a $285 fee along with filing an application for reinstatement.