How to Become an Optician
So, you want to be an optician, Eye Care Professional (ECP) or Optical Dispensing Professional (ODP)?
Good for you!
Opticians sell eyewear or eyeglasses, repair and adjust eyeglasses, make eyeglasses and work in retail stores or in doctor’s offices. Opticians work with other eye care professionals, doctors and some opticians fit and dispense contact lenses. Some opticians do own their own shop.
The primary job of an optician, ECP or ODP is to bring money in to a practice by being competent, knowledgeable and by offering appropriate products.
It really can be a great job.
You can make a real living wage and work under good conditions. Pay for an experienced and competent ECP is actually quite good. Work hours are often flexible and the work is not at all physically demanding. Since shops are trying to appeal to shoppers the physical locations are often convenient and usually quite pleasant.
If you are seriously considering becoming an Eye Care Professional – SLOW DOWN and READ this entire page carefully – twice!
Learning all the skills needed to be an optician is very hands-on so you will need to work in an optical shop, go to school or become an apprentice. OpticianWorks is the best way to learn about the job and to build a foundation to rapidly advance at your workplace.
Think About It — If becoming an optician was quick and easy and anyone could do it then you would not earn a living wage by being one!
What makes a good optician or ECP?
Are you good with your hands?
Can you sew?
Ever make a model car or airplane?
Can you repair small objects that are broken?
Have you ever mended a broken piece of jewelry?
Do you change your own watch battery?
Do you have some mechanical ability?
Can you work with basic hand tools?
Do you know the difference between a screw and a nail?
Do you know the difference between a nut and a bolt?
If something is broken do you usually try to fix it?
Do you have patience?
Can you really stick with something difficult and see it through?
Can you do basic math in whole numbers, fractions and decimals?
Do you remember your number line and negative numbers?
Can you work with people?
Note: You do not have to “love people” or be a “people person” but can you honestly work with other people and the public in a retail setting?
Do you have at least some eye for detail?
If you answer yes to the above questions then you may well make a great optician!
READ THIS! Things To Know About Certificates
No individual, no school, no college, no on-line program, no study guide, no manual can “certify” you as an optician. In the US certification and-or licensure is on a state-by-state basis. You may receive a certificate that states that you have passed a specific course of study or a particular exam but never one that certifies that you are an optician. Please re-read that! It is very important!
This is why OpticianWorks does NOT provide a “certificate” of any kind since it would be both deceptive and dishonest.
There are only twenty-two states that require you to have a license to call yourself an optician. The other twenty-eight states have little or no requirements to dispense eyewear or make eyeglasses. In those states you may be called an optician or an optical dispenser, an eye care provider or ECP or an optical dispensing professional.
READ THIS! In the United States — FACT!
Even though you will see the words National and American in their titles:
There is NO nationally recognized certification for opticians.
There is NO legal and/or political national organization for opticians.
There is NO national testing program for opticians.
There is NO nationally agreed upon definition for the role of an optician.
Compare this with a field like nursing which does have national certification, national organization, national standard testing and nationally recognized guidelines for school programs.
If you live in or plan to work in one of the following states, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington you will need to become a licensed optician through a state approved course of study and pass a written and perhaps a practical exam. This may include college courses, a full college associates (2 year) degree or apprenticeship through the Department of Labor program.
Check with your state agency a list of which can be found at:
Opticians Association of America
How to Become an Optician
If you live in or plan to work in one of the following states, Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming there is no license required by the state to practice. I would still check with the state and ask a local optical store to be sure.
About the ABO:
Many states use the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) written examination as all or part of their license process.
The ABO exam is a minimal competency, low passing score exam.
If you have failed the ABO exam, even once, it is proof that you DO NOT understand key concepts and that you lack the foundation education you need to be an optician or competent ECP. You must reset your starting point and work through this entire site before attempting it again. Just trying until you pass is no way to improve the income potential for other ECPs.
OpticianWorks WILL prepare you to pass the ABO Exam
Since the ABO does not include a practical exam I personally do NOT approve of the exam and I feel strongly that it is actually doing serious harm to the profession.
However – There is no harm in you taking the exam, and since many states require it you will need to take it and pass it!
IMPORTANT! Passing the ABO written exam does not mean that you are an optician or a non-licensed optical dispensing professional.
Note: As stated on their website the ABO does NOT recommend or endorse ANY test preparation programs of ANY kind.
How can OpticianWorks help you become an optician, ECP or ODP?
If you live or plan to work in a licensed state OpticianWorks will help you prepare for the classes and any tests that you will be required to take. OpticianWorks will make you be a better student, a better employee and a better optician.
If you live or plan to work in a non-license state OpticianWorks will prepare you to become a competent optical dispensing professional. If you work through my entire site you will know much more than many “licensed opticians” and increase your chances of being hired and earning a living wage.
OpticianWorks offers a complete on-line education program. To work through the entire course of study you will need to apply yourself and study. I would expect anyone with no experience to need about ninety-six hours to complete the entire course. You will be working through an entire in-depth on-line textbook.
Note: That is exactly the same as two semesters of college classes.
Ninety-six hours includes:
- Reading all the lessons
- Study and review time for each lesson
- Taking the provided on-line tests and reviewing the answers you missed
- Watching the videos
- Exploring all the many resources provided through website links
- Independent study of other material
- A visit to an optical lab and spending a few days at an optical shop
About Going To School - GO!
If you can go to a real, public, accredited college, and earn an Associate’s degree that can be transferred to a four-year college then DO IT! If you can go to a real campus, with real human interaction with instructors and other students DO IT! Life is unpredictable and you never know where it might lead you. A real college education will open your life to new possibilities and provide a better future for both you and your family. Education is so much more than “getting through it” or “getting a degree”, it changes who you are and how you think. Do NOT pay any for-profit college for any optician or ECP courses.
Many people ask about other study materials and the only book I can recommend is Optical Formulas Tutorial by Ellen Stoner. You will have her explanation of the formulas and have addition examples and practice tests. I only recommend using it as a compliment to the optical theory material that I cover. However, if you have strong math skills working through the entire book would be an excellent idea!
How to Become an Optician
The hundreds of website links you will find on the site are there for a reason. With the one exception of Santinelli edgers, I do NOT recommend, suggest or promote ANY products. My site is here for you to learn, it is not for selling you something. What you decide is the best tool, frame, lens, or lab is up to you and/or your employer. Click on the website links and explore! These companies invest thousands, sometimes even millions, of dollars in these sites and they are packed with valuable information. USE THEM!
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