A number of community colleges and technical schools offer formal education in opticianry. Some award an associateís degree, which takes two years. Others offer a certificate, which takes one year. As of 2010, the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation accredited 21 associate's degree programs in 14 states.
Coursework includes classes in optics, eye physiology, and business management, among others. Also, students do supervised clinical work that gives them hands-on experience working as opticians and learning optical mathematics, optical physics, and the use of precision measuring instruments. Some programs have distance-learning options.
Courses in physics, basic anatomy, algebra, and trigonometry are particularly valuable.
Twenty-three states require opticians to be licensed. Licensure usually requires completing formal education through an approved program or completing an apprenticeship. In addition to being licensed, states require opticians to pass one or more of the following (depending on the state): a state written exam, a state practical exam, or certification exams, described in the certification section.
In most states, opticians must renew their licenses periodically, and they must take continuing education.
Opticians may choose to become certified in eyeglass dispensing or contact lens dispensing or both. Certification requires passing exams from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Nearly all state licensing boards use the ABO and NCLE exams as the basis for state licensing..
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition
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