In terms of licensing and education, there are different requirements for different countries, and even state to state in the United States. In some places, it is required that aspiring opticians take courses at a specialty school and earn a certificate upon completion of the program. However, in some states, opticians can enter the profession without any kind of certificate and train on the job.
The minimum educational requirement for opticians is a high school diploma with completed courses in math, science, and anatomy. However, there are better and more numerous job opportunities for aspiring opticians who go on to further education beyond high school. In the U.S., it is typical for aspiring opticians to enroll in a two-year associate's degree program. There are also universities that offer four-year bachelor's degree programs. Those who want to successfully practice should make sure they enroll in a program that is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA). Links to some accredited associate's degree programs in various states across the U.S. can be found at the bottom of this page.
Another option aspiring opticians can consider besides earning a degree is to become an apprentice with an already practicing optician. Apprentices get the opportunity to learn hands-on by working side-by-side with professional opticians; they learn how to deal with patients, and how to use all equipment involved with the job. The length of an apprenticeship depends on the employer with whom the apprentice is working.
In some states or countries, a license is required for all practicing opticians. Both the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) and the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) offer exams for those who wish to be certified on the national level. Further, some states require aspiring opticians to pass their own written and practical exams as offered by a state's professional licensing board. In these states, opticians are expected to receive continued education to maintain certification.
Besides these educational and licensing requirements, opticians should be comfortable working with people on a regular basis. This includes listening to their needs and wishes when it comes to fitting them with the right lenses. Opticians must also be adaptable, as they are responsible for creating all kinds of lenses for different purposes.