An optician is responsible for performing accurate eyeglass and contact lens fittings for her clients. In many cases, these fittings are based on ophthalmologist or optometrist prescriptions. Whether or not you land an optician job depends upon your skills and qualifications. Earning a certification is one way to increase your qualifications. As a certified optician, you are recognized as an expert in the industry. The National Contact Lens Examiners is responsible for issuing certification for contact lens opticians. Eyeglass opticians are certified by the American Board of Opticianry.
Ensure you meet the minimum qualifications to work as an optician. You must be at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or GED.
Get formal training to learn everything you need to know about being a successful optician. While formal training is not required, participating in a formal optical school program certainly helps during the certification process. During training, you learn optician's math, optical terminology, optical principles, anatomy and ophthalmic and contact lens dispensing. Most optical school programs offer you an optical diploma or certificate upon completion of the program.
Gain two to three years of experience working as an optician or optician trainee. One way to get this experience is by applying for jobs at local optical centers. There is no prescribed experience level required. However, the more experience you have, the easier it is to earn a certification. If you participate in a formal training program, you get hands-on experience doing clinical training.
Take and pass the National Opticianry Competency Examination offered by the American Board of Opticianry or the Contact Lens Registry Examination offered by the National Contact Lens Examiners. If you intend to dispense and work with eyeglasses, passing the National Opticianry Competency Examination is required. If you intend to dispense and work with contact lens, the Contact Lens Registry Exam is required. If you desire to work with glasses and contact lens, both exams are required. At the time of publication, the exam fee is $225 for the National Opticianry Competency Examination and an additional $225 to take the Contact Lens Registry Examination.
Take and pass the optician licensing exam offered by your state (if applicable). Some states accept your test results from the National Opticianry Competency Examination and Contact Lens Registry Examination as a prerequisite for licensing. Other states, such as Alabama, Colorado, Indiana and Illinois don't require any examinations or license. At the time of publication, there are 25 states that have no regulations or licensing requirements for opticians. Contact your state board of optometry to determine the protocol for your state.
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