There are two avenues in which to become a licensed optician in Massachusetts: Formal education in Opticianry through an accredited institution, and apprenticeship under a licensed Optician, Optometrist or Physician.
The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston offers a two year Associates Degree in Opticianry in Massachusetts. It is currently the only institution in Massachusetts to do so. Any candidate who already has a BA or BS can complete the opticianry program in one year on an accelerated program.
“ The curriculum is designed to prepare the graduate to meet both the requirements for MA Licensing, including national and local certification exams and practical tests, as well as for entry into the profession of opticianry itself. Upon graduation, the student will be well versed and knowledgeable in all facets of opticianry, including spectacle design, fitting and dispensing, contact lens design and fitting, prescription and non-prescription fabrication and manufacturing, and special application optics”.
Upon successful completion of the Associate Degree in Opticianry, the graduate will be able to:
- Analyze ophthalmic prescriptions and interpret the prescription into an appropriate design for spectacles and/or contact lenses.
- Measure and record pertinent patient information, using appropriate optical instrumentation.
- Record and communicate with patients by taking a case history and general discussion regarding their eye care concerns and preferences.
- Demonstrate a high level of performance and comprehension and application for all optical concepts through thorough testing and practical examinations.
- Demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and be measured as to their adherence to the program’s academic integrity policy and the program’s professional code of conduct
Click here to request their free Opticianry Career Guide!
Opticianry apprenticeships are available with either a licensed Massachusetts optician, an optometrist or an ophthamalogist.. They would be responsible for working with you on a daily basis and educate you in this field. This program is coordinated through the Division of Apprenticeship Training (see information below) There is an annual fee paid by the sponsor, and a smaller fee paid by the apprentice.
Two apprenticeship scenarios are possible...
- An apprentice who has completed 1 year of formal education in an accredited opticianry program may apprentice for a total of 3,000 hours in at least an 18 month time period.
- With no formal opticianry education, a total of 6,000 hours of apprenticeship is required (approximately 3 years of full time employment).
Any time served in an office before the apprenticeship begins does not count toward these hours. The requirements for this time are specific towards this goal and monitored as such.
An apprenticeship MUST be completed within 5 years. In addition to the apprenticeship hours, 150 hours of related technical instruction are also required per year for the three years, for a total of 450 hours. This education can be in the form of continuing education credits, classroom time or home/study courses, but must be approved by the Board and Division of Apprenticeship Training. ( see the statute below)
4.05: Related Classroom Instruction Requirements
2.“The related classroom instruction hours required by 235 CMR 4.05(1) may be completed by any one or more of the following methods:
- Completion of appropriate courses or programs at any educational program in opticianry which is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation;
- Completion of appropriate courses or programs which have been approved for continuing education credit, pursuant to 235 CMR 3.05, by the American Board of Opticianry, the National Contact Lens Examiners, or the Board; or
- Completion of classroom instruction and training programs developed and administered by the apprentice optician’s employer, provided that such training programs have been reviewed and approved in advance by both the Board and the Division of Apprentice Training.”
After the apprenticeship and/or formal education is completed, there are three tests that must be passed in Massachusetts before an Optician’s License can be obtained:
The American Board of Opticianry exam,
The National Contact Lens Examination
The Massachusetts practical exam.
The ABO and the NCLE must be passed before the Massachusetts exam is administered. It is recommended that the ABO is taken the first year of apprenticeship or formal education and the NCLE the second year of apprenticeship/formal education.
Both the ABO and NCLE exams are currently offered twice a year, in May and November. The cost to sit for either exam is $225. Each exam consists of up to 125 multiple choice questions; candidates have up to two and a half hours to complete the exam. The exam has recently been converted to a computerized test and is given in a computerized testing center.
For the ABO exam the content areas are 31% on analyzing and interpreting prescriptions, 53% on fitting and dispensing spectacles and other ophthalmic devices, and 16% on the use of standard ophthalmic equipment.
For the NCLE exam, the content areas consist of 16% on pre-fit, preparation and evaluation, 25% on diagnostic fit and evaluation, 29% on lens dispensing, patient education and delivery procedures, 21% on follow- up visits with patient/customer and 9% on administrative issues.
State Practical Exam
The Massachusetts Practical exam is administered by the Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians twice per year. The cost for the exam is $300 with a lensometer rental fee of $100. You are allowed to bring your own lensometer, but be sure it is calibrated correctly.
“All applicants must have passed the National Competency Examination administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) YOU MUST INCLUDE A COPY OF THE ABO and NCLE SCORES OR CERTIFICATE WITH YOUR APPLICATION. YOU MUST COMPLETE THE 6000 HOURS OF APPRENTICESHIP IN NO LESS THAN THREE YEARS TIME AND THE ABO AND NCLE MUST BE PASSED”
The following is the exact text of The Code Of Massachusetts Regulations 235 regarding requirements for licensing in Massachusetts.
“2.07: Requirements for Full Licensure as a Dispensing Optician
An applicant may be granted a license to practice as a dispensing optician if he or she submits to the Board a properly-completed application for such licensure, on a form prescribed and furnished by the Board for that purpose, accompanied by all of the following:
(1) Satisfactory written proof that he or she has:
Graduated from a two-year educational program in opticianry which is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation or by another accreditation entity recognized and approved by the Board; or
Successfully completed one year of education in an educational program in opticianry which is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation or by another accreditation entity recognized and approved by the Board, and successfully completed an apprenticeship of not less than 3,000 hours over a period of not less than eighteen (18) months which meets all applicable requirements of 235 CMR 4.00; or
Successfully completed an apprenticeship of not less than 6,000 hours over a period of not less than three (3) years which meets all applicable requirements of 235 CMR 4.00 and
1. Satisfactory written proof that he or she has taken, and achieved a passing score on, the National Opticianry Competency Examination administered by the American Board of Opticianry, or such any other examination as may be approved by the Board; and
(3) Applicable to applicants for licensure on and after June 1, 2007, satisfactory written proof that he or she has taken, and achieved a passing score on, the Contact Lens Registry Examination administered by the Na- tional Contact Lens Examiners, or any other examination as may be approved by the Board; and
(4) Satisfactory written proof that he or she has taken, and achieved a passing score on, the practical examination in opticianry prescribed by the Board; or a practical examination in opticianry administered by the governmental licensing authority of another state or territory of the United States which, in the opinion of the Board, is substantially equivalent to the practical examination in opticianry prescribed by the Board; and
(5) Satisfactory written proof that he or she is at least 18 years of age and is of good moral character; and
(6) Payment of all required fees prescribed by the Board and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance pursuant to M.G.L. c. 7, § 3B and 801 CMR 4.00: Rates.
Helpful Links And Contact Information
Ben Franklin Institute of Technology
41 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116
To apply for Apprenticeship:
Division of Apprentice Training
P. O. Box 146759
10 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 626-5409, Fax: (617) 626-5427
American Board of Opticianry/National Contact Lens Examiners
6506 Loisdale Road, Suite 209
Springfield, VA 22150
Along with the application, you will receive several brochures from organizations that offer various study materials to help you prepare for the exams.
State Practical Exam
Contact the Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians to schedule your State Practical Exam.
Follow the links on the Mass.Gov website to Division of Professional Licensure Board to the Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians. Applications are available there.
Continuing Education Requirements
ABO - 9 credits every two years, 3 may be NCLE
NCLE - 9 credits every two years, 3 may be ABO
Massachusetts License- 12 credits every two years, must be 6 ABO and 6 NCLE