ABO Certification for Opticians

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If you want to become an optician, you should know that is job is becoming more and more popular.

You will also get to work in the healthcare field without taking the training needed by a doctor.

While many US states do not require certification, about half of them do.

Even if you live in a state where certification is not needed, you should consider getting it.

This will provide you with more job opportunists, and you will advance faster in your career.

Furthermore, you will also be able to practice in any state you want.

The main certification you can get as an optician is the ABO certification.

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But, What Does This Certification Entail?

The ABO certification is provided by the American Board of Opticianry/National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE).

This certification will also increase your annual pay, in addition to making you look more reliable in the eyes of employers.

You should know that the ABO offers 3 certifications.

These are Basic Certification, Advanced Certification, and Master’s Designation.

For each of them, you will need a different amount of experience and credentials.

But, before that, you should learn more about the trade and what it is all about.

What Are The Job Tasks Of An Optician?

As an optician, you will assist your clients in getting the right eye-wear that suits their needs.

However, you are not a doctor so you will not be able to give eye exams.

Some of the job responsibilities you will have include:

  • Customize eyewear
  • Create devices
  • Measure facial features
  • Help patients decide what sort of eye-wear they should wear
  • Receive deliveries of glasses and contact lenses

This job will also mean you will deal with the public for most of your daily tasks.

So, it is required that you have solid communication and listening skills.

Some other skills that you should have include:

  • Being able to read
  • Having critical thinking skills
  • Having marketing skills
  • Having a basic knowledge of math and calculations

What Training Do You Need To Become An Optician?

The basic requirement for this job is to have a high-school diploma or a GED.

Then, the next step is attending a training program where you will learn the needed skills to perform the job.

Keep in mind that you can also take on-the-job training, but it is always easier to attend a program.

If you do so, you will be able to get more career opportunities and pass the ABO certification test.

In some US states, certification is required by law.

In that case, you will need to complete a program that lasts 2 or 3 years and then pursue certification.

As of now, 21 states require opticians to have a license.

If you reside in New Hampshire, you will have to register, however licensing is not a requirement.

How to get a certification from the ABO-NCLE

ABO- NCLE offers 3 types of certification, each of these being based on your skill level.

Let’s have a look at the ABO certifications!

Basic Certification

Although this is the lowest level certification, you will still have to pass an exam for it.

To attend the exam, you need:

  • To be 18 years old at the minimum
  • To have a high-school diploma or a GED

You are not required to have any experience in the industry.

However, if you do have some experience such as completing a program, you will pass the exam much easier.

The exams you will have to take are:

  • The National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) for eye-wear
  • The Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) for contacts

ABO Certification for Opticians

Advanced Certification

If you are looking for advanced certification, you can either get the ABOC-AC or the NCLE-AC.

These exams are offered through the ABO and NCLE.

These certifications do require some years of experience in the industry.

Furthermore, you will also need to have the basic certification for 3 years before getting an advanced one.

Master’s Designation

If you want to get the Master’s Designation, you have 2 choices.

You can either get a Master in Ophthalmic Optics or a Master in Contact Lens Technology.

To get one of these certifications, you must have an advanced certification first.

These 2 certifications also require separate exams.

How To Get Ready For The ABO And NCLE Tests

If you want to pass the exams, you should know how to prepare first.

In order to maximize your chances of passing the exams, you can check out the ABO-NCLE website.

This site has various resources you can use, and are offered through the ABO, NCLE, and Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA),

Keep in mind that these materials require a fee in order to access them.

Another idea is taking a test prep course.

Some of the courses you can look into are:

  • Laramy-K Optician Works
  • Exchange 2021
  • The Optical Training Institute
  • Professional Opticians of Florida
  • The McRee Learning Center

These courses provide a test review, as well as mock exams and study sessions.

How Do I Pass The ABO Basic Exam?

This is the first certification you will be pursuing in order to become an optician.

You have 2 exams to choose from:

  • The exam for eye-wear dispensing
  • The exam for contact lens dispensing

You can also choose to take both in order to become certified by the board.

Remember that before you take the exam, you have to register online for it.

Each of these exams currently requires a fee of $225.

If you want to get a state license, make sure there are no additional requirements to need to fulfill.

The ABO exam will feature topics such as:

  • Analyzing and interpreting prescriptions
  • The uses of ophthalmic equipment,
  • The fitting of spectacles

The NCLE exam features the following subjects:

  • Preparation and evaluation
  • Diagnostic fit
  • Patient education
  • Lens dispensing and follow-up
  • Administrative issues

Usually, these exams are taken at testing centers in your area.

However, lately, you can take the exam at home if you choose to.

The exams last for 2 hours and are computer-based.

When taking the exam, you will be allowed to use some study materials.

Generally, you will be able to find out the results from your exam right away.

In some cases, the results might take longer and you will be notified when they are available.

Keeping Your Certification Current And Education Requirements

The ABO-NCLE certifications will be valid for a period, after which they require renewal.

For that, you need to attend some extra education hours in an accredited program.

You will need to finish between 12 and 18 hours of extra education over a time span of 3 years.

What Salary Can I Expect As an ABO Certified Optician?

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you will make more money if you have a certification.

The latest data suggests that opticians earn from $26,080 to $62,180.

This also depends on your credentials and where you live.

Opticians living in larger urban areas can expect to be paid more compared to those in rural regions.

There ate many facilities where you can get hired after becoming certified.

Some of these facilities include doctor’s offices, clinics, health care stores, and outpatient care centers.


We feel that now you have a better understanding of what it takes to become an optician if this career interests you.

No matter what you choose, you can be sure you will have a flourishing career in the field.

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