What Are the Education Requirements to Be an Optician?

Opticians play an important role in vision care by helping fit or fix prescription glasses and frames. Read on to learn more about opticians and how to join this profession. Schools offering Optician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of an Optician

Opticians assist the optometrists you go to when you need glasses or other corrective eyewear. As an optician, you'll help customers pick out frames based on their face shape, skin tone, hair color and even lifestyle. Opticians are skilled in interpreting prescriptions and creating lenses or other devices to specifications. You'll measure customers' eyes to ensure glasses work correctly, and help customers find frames and lenses that suit their particular needs. You may also fix broken frames. Opticians often work in offices of optometrists and ophthalmologists, as well as health, eyewear and department stores.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Online Availability Yes, but supervised clinical work is also required
Continuing Education Required for licensing; available through state societies, ABO/NCLE conference and vendors
Degrees/Certificates Associate Degree in Ophthalmic Design and Dispensing, Opticianry Associate of Applied Science Degree, Opticianry Certificate
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED

Education Requirements

While you might need only a high school diploma to begin on-the-job training as an optician, many opticians gain comprehensive training by completing certificate or associate's degree programs in optical technology. These 1- to 2-year programs introduce you to the theories and techniques of creating corrective eyewear, including glasses and contact lenses. You'll also learn administrative and business concepts, as well as taking courses in optics, eye anatomy and math. As part of your program, you'll complete field experiences and see what it is like to work as an optician.

Apprenticeship Opportunities

An alternate route to obtaining the skills you need to work as an optician is to complete an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are available for those who are at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent and no postsecondary education. You might also be required to complete a two-hour, board-approved course within a year of registering as an apprentice optician. The length of these programs varies, but you must meet a minimum number of hours of field training. This training takes place in an optical lab or office under the direct supervision of a licensed optician, ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Licensure Requirements

Many states require opticians to become licensed. To meet a state's licensure requirement, you typically need postsecondary or apprenticeship training. The licensure process typically entails the passage of state-administered practical and written exams or the certification exam administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). There are no formal education or experience requirements for taking the certification exam unless specified by the state. Licensed opticians typically must renew licensure regularly by earning continuing education credits.

Even if your state doesn't require licensure, you may want to consider earning certification from the ABO and NCLE. The ABO and NCLE mention several advantages to earning certification, including increased earning power, more job opportunities and more job mobility.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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