Top 11 Optical Assistant Certifications
This article provides an overview of the best optical assistant certifications available, including details on courses and requirements.
Published 20 min read
Certifications are important for an optical assistant in the job market because they demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise in the field. They provide proof that the individual has been trained in the necessary skills and has met certain standards of excellence. Employers often require certification when hiring optical assistants, as it indicates that the candidate is qualified to perform their duties. Furthermore, certifications can help distinguish one candidate from another in a competitive job market. Having a certification can also open up opportunities for advancement within a company or even other career paths.
This article reviews some of the top certifications for Optical Assistants and explains how they can help advance an optical assistant's career.
What are Optical Assistant Certifications?
Optical assistant certification is a program designed to help individuals develop the knowledge and skills they need to work as an optometric technician. The certification program can provide those interested in working in the field of optometry with the knowledge and skills needed to become proficient in their job duties. It can also help employers to identify qualified applicants who have received the proper training and education necessary for the job.
The optical assistant certification program typically involves a comprehensive course of study that covers topics such as patient care, anatomy and physiology, optics, refraction, contact lens fitting, ocular diseases, safety protocols, record keeping and billing practices. Those who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate that verifies their level of expertise in these areas.
This type of certification can be beneficial for both employers and employees alike. For employers, it provides assurance that potential employees have been adequately trained and are knowledgeable about optometric procedures and protocols. For employees, it gives them an edge over other applicants when applying for jobs within the field of optometry. It also serves as a way to demonstrate dedication to their craft by showing that they have taken the time to learn more about their chosen profession.
Pro Tip: When considering an optical assistant certification, be sure to research the specific requirements for the certification in your state or region. Different states may have different requirements for optical assistant certifications and it is important to know what these are in order to ensure that you meet the necessary qualifications.
Related: What does an Optical Assistant do?
Top 11 Optical Assistant Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Optical Assistants today.
1. American Board of Opticianry (ABO) Certification
The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) Certification is a voluntary certification program designed to recognize and promote the highest standard of opticianry practice. The ABO certification is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct in the field of opticianry.
The ABO certification process includes passing an exam that covers topics such as optics, eyewear fabrication, contact lenses, ocular anatomy and physiology, patient care, business practices, and more. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within four hours.
To be eligible for the ABO certification exam, applicants must have at least two years of full-time experience in the field of opticianry or have completed an accredited opticianry program. Applicants must also submit proof of continuing education credits earned in the past three years.
The cost for the ABO certification exam varies depending on whether you are taking it for the first time or retaking it after failing it previously. For first-time applicants, the cost is $350; for those retaking the exam after failing it previously, the cost is $150. Additionally, there is a $25 nonrefundable application fee required for all applicants.
Once you successfully pass the ABO certification exam, you will receive your certificate within six weeks from your test date. Your certificate will remain valid for five years before needing to be renewed with additional continuing education credits or by retaking the exam again.
2. National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Certification
The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Certification is a professional credential that recognizes the knowledge, skills, and abilities of contact lens practitioners. It is designed to ensure that those who are fitting contact lenses have the necessary knowledge and skills to do so safely and effectively.
In order to become certified, individuals must pass an examination administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion. The written portion covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, optics, pathology, ocular pharmacology, contact lens materials and design, fitting principles and techniques, patient evaluation and care, problem solving and management of complications. The practical portion involves demonstrating proficiency in fitting contact lenses on patients.
It typically takes 6-12 months to prepare for the NCLE exam depending on individual study habits. Those interested in taking the exam can find study materials on the ABO website or through other organizations such as the Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA).
The cost for taking the NCLE exam varies depending on which state you are located in but generally ranges from $300-$400.
3. American Association of Certified Opticians (AACO) Certification
The American Association of Certified Opticians (AACO) is a professional organization that provides optician certification and continuing education for opticians. AACO certification is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates the highest level of competence and professionalism in the field of opticianry.
In order to become certified by AACO, applicants must meet certain requirements including passing an exam, having at least two years of experience as a licensed optician, and completing 30 hours of approved continuing education courses. The exam consists of both written and practical components and covers topics such as optics, ophthalmic lenses, contact lenses, frame fitting, dispensing techniques, patient care, business practices, and more.
It typically takes about six months to complete the certification process. Applicants must submit their application for review before taking the exam. Once the application is approved, they can register for the exam which is administered at select testing centers throughout the United States.
The cost to take the exam varies depending on whether or not you are a member of AACO. For non-members it costs $395 while members pay $295. Additionally there may be other fees associated with taking the exam such as registration fees or travel expenses if you need to travel to a testing center.
Once you have passed the exam you will receive your official AACO certification which is valid for three years from date of issue. After three years you will need to renew your certification by completing additional continuing education courses or retaking the examination if necessary.
4. National Academy of Opticianry (NAO) Certification
The National Academy of Opticianry (NAO) Certification is a professional credential that demonstrates a high level of knowledge and skill in the field of opticianry. It is an industry-recognized certification that is designed to demonstrate a commitment to excellence and provide assurance to employers, patients, and the public that an optician has met rigorous standards for practice.
In order to obtain the NAO Certification, applicants must meet certain educational requirements, complete an extensive exam, and demonstrate a commitment to continuing education in the field. The educational requirements include completion of either an accredited two-year associate degree program in opticianry or a four-year bachelor's degree program in vision science. Applicants must also have at least one year of experience working as an optician prior to taking the exam.
The NAO Certification Exam consists of three sections: General Knowledge, Clinical Knowledge, and Professional Practice. The exam covers topics such as optics, ophthalmic lenses, contact lenses, eyeglass frames and fabrication techniques. The exam takes approximately six hours to complete and costs $225 for members of the National Academy of Opticians or $325 for non-members.
Once applicants have passed the exam they will be awarded their NAO Certification which is valid for five years from the date it was issued. In order to maintain their certification status during this period they must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education credits every two years.
5. Optical Dispensing Professional (ODP) Certification
Optical Dispensing Professional (ODP) Certification is an internationally recognized credential that demonstrates a professional’s knowledge and skills in the field of optical dispensing. It is awarded to individuals who have successfully completed a comprehensive training program and passed an examination. The certification is valid for five years and can be renewed by completing continuing education courses.
The ODP Certification program consists of two parts: a coursework component and a written examination. The coursework component covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, optics, frames, lenses, contact lenses, prescription analysis, patient care, customer service, legal issues, business practices and more. This part of the program typically takes between three to six months to complete depending on the individual’s learning pace.
The written examination tests the individual’s knowledge of optical dispensing principles and practices as well as their ability to apply this knowledge in practical situations. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that cover all aspects of the coursework component. It typically takes about four hours to complete the exam.
The cost for the ODP Certification program varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $500-$1000 USD. Some providers may also offer financing options or discounts for group enrollments.
Once an individual has successfully completed both parts of the program they will receive their ODP Certification which is valid for five years before needing to be renewed with additional continuing education courses or exams.
6. Certified Optical Technician (COT) Certification
Certified Optical Technician (COT) Certification is a professional credential offered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to perform optical laboratory tasks in an efficient and effective manner. The certification is valid for three years and must be renewed every three years in order to remain current.
To obtain COT certification, applicants must complete a series of courses and examinations administered by ABO. These courses include topics such as lens fabrication, frame selection, and optical dispensing. Upon successful completion of the courses and exams, applicants will receive their COT certificate.
The cost of obtaining COT certification varies depending on the number of courses taken and exams taken. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or more for all required coursework and exams. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exams or renewing your certification every three years.
In order to maintain your COT certification status, you must complete at least 15 continuing education credits each year. This requirement can be met either through attending approved conferences or seminars or completing online learning modules.
7. Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) Certification
Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) Certification is a credential that demonstrates a professional has achieved the highest level of knowledge and skills in ophthalmic assisting. It is awarded by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO).
The COA certification requires passing an exam administered by JCAHPO. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, covering topics such as anatomy and physiology, patient history taking, ocular diseases and treatments, refraction, contact lenses, optical dispensing, and more.
The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and can be taken at any one of JCAHPO's testing centers across the United States. To be eligible for the COA certification exam, applicants must have either completed an accredited ophthalmic assistant program or have two years of full-time experience as an ophthalmic assistant within the last three years.
The cost for the COA certification exam is $250 for members of JCAHPO ($350 for non-members). Once certified, individuals must recertify every three years by either retaking the exam or completing continuing education credits.
8. Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) Certification
Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) Certification is a credential that demonstrates a technician’s knowledge and expertise in the field of ophthalmology. The certification is administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated excellence in their knowledge and skills related to ophthalmic technology.
In order to become certified, individuals must complete an approved program of study, pass a written examination, and complete a minimum of two years of clinical experience. The program of study typically takes two years to complete and consists of both classroom instruction and hands-on training.
To get certified, individuals must register with JCAHPO and submit an application for certification. Once accepted into the program, applicants must take the Certified Ophthalmic Technician Examination (COTE), which covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, optics, instrumentation, patient care techniques, medical terminology, pharmacology, medical ethics and laws governing health care. After passing the exam, applicants must also demonstrate their clinical proficiency by completing two years of supervised clinical experience in an approved setting.
The cost for certification varies depending on when you apply; however it typically ranges from $400-$500 USD.
9. Certified Dispensing Optician (CDO) Certification
Certified Dispensing Optician (CDO) Certification is a professional designation that recognizes an individual's knowledge and skills in the field of optical dispensing. It is issued by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) after successful completion of their exams. The certification process consists of a written exam, practical exam, and continuing education credits.
The written exam covers topics such as optics, anatomy and physiology, contact lenses, frame selection, lens fabrication, fitting techniques, patient care and safety. The practical exam tests the candidate’s ability to select frames for a patient’s prescription, fabricate lenses according to proper standards and fit them correctly into the frame.
It typically takes about 6 months to complete the certification process. To get started on your CDO certification journey you must first register with ABO-NCLE and pay an application fee of $150. Once registered you will receive access to study materials which are available online or in print form. You will then need to schedule a date for your written exam which costs $200-$250 depending on your state. After passing the written portion you will be eligible to take the practical exam which also costs $200-$250 depending on your state. Finally you must complete 24 hours of continuing education credits every two years in order to maintain your certification status.
Overall, it will cost around $600-$750 dollars to obtain CDO certification plus any additional fees associated with continuing education credits over time.
10. American Board of Optometry (ABOptom) Certification
The American Board of Optometry (ABOptom) is a non-profit organization that was established in 1976 to provide certification for optometrists who demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in the field. ABOptom certification is a voluntary process that requires optometrists to demonstrate their expertise in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ocular diseases.
In order to become certified by ABOptom, an optometrist must complete an application form and submit it with documentation of their professional qualifications. This includes proof of licensure, completion of continuing education courses, and passing scores on written examinations. Once these requirements are met, the optometrist will be eligible to take the ABOptom certification examination.
The ABOptom certification exam consists of two parts: a written examination and an oral examination. The written exam covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, optics and refraction, pharmacology, pathology, contact lenses, low vision care, clinical practice management, public health issues related to eye care services, and other areas related to optometry. The oral examination focuses on clinical skills such as patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning.
It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the entire process of becoming certified by ABOptom. The cost for the application fee is $200 USD plus any additional fees associated with obtaining licensure or completing continuing education courses.
11. National Academy of Optometric Practice Management (NAOPM) Certification
The National Academy of Optometric Practice Management (NAOPM) Certification is a professional credential that recognizes optometrists who demonstrate excellence in practice management. This certification is designed to help optometrists stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive edge in the industry.
The NAOPM Certification program consists of three parts: an online course, an exam, and a portfolio review. The online course covers topics such as practice management principles, financial management, marketing and communications, patient relations, and legal issues. The exam tests knowledge acquired from the online course and requires a passing score of 80%. Finally, the portfolio review assesses the candidate’s experience in managing an optometric practice.
The entire certification process typically takes between 6-12 months to complete. In order to begin the process, applicants must first submit an application form along with their resume and transcripts. Once accepted into the program, they will receive access to the online course materials and can begin studying for the exam. After successfully completing both components of the program, applicants will be eligible for certification.
The cost of obtaining NAOPM Certification varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of NAOPM. Non-members must pay $499 for registration fees plus $299 for each part of the program (online course + exam + portfolio review). For members, there is no additional fee beyond membership dues which range from $50-$150 per year depending on your membership level.
Do You Really Need a Optical Assistant Certificate?
When considering whether or not to pursue an optical assistant certificate, it is important to consider the value that such a certificate could bring to your career. An optical assistant certificate can be beneficial in many ways, including providing you with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the field of optometry. This type of certification may also give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs as an optometry technician or other related positions.
There are several things to consider when deciding if an optical assistant certificate is right for you. First, what type of job do you want to pursue? If working as an optician or other related position is your goal, then having a certificate may be beneficial. The certification can provide potential employers with evidence that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully perform the duties of the job. In addition, having a certificate may make you more attractive to employers who are looking for someone with specialized knowledge and experience in this particular field.
Second, what type of training does the program offer? An optical assistant certificate program should include both classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory experience so that students can gain practical experience in their chosen field before they enter into their chosen profession. It is important to make sure that any program you choose provides comprehensive training so that you can feel confident in your ability to perform your duties once employed.
Finally, it is important to consider how long it will take for you to complete your certification program. Many programs require at least one year of study before completion, while others may require two years or more depending on the complexity of the coursework and any additional certifications you may need along the way. Taking time off from work or school may be necessary in order for you to complete a certification program, so it is important to factor this into your decision-making process as well.
In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when deciding if an optical assistant certificate is right for you. While having a certification can help open doors and provide proof of expertise in this field, it is also important for students to consider their own goals and interests before committing themselves fully to a program.
Related: Optical Assistant Resume Examples
FAQs About Optical Assistant Certifications
1. What is an Optical Assistant Certification?
Answer: An Optical Assistant Certification is a certification program designed to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to work as an entry-level optical assistant in the eye care industry. It covers topics such as patient education, frame selection, lens measurements and more.
2. How do I become certified as an Optical Assistant?
Answer: To become certified as an Optical Assistant, you must complete a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of being an optical assistant. Upon completion of the program, you will take a certification exam administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO).
3. How long does it take to earn my Optical Assistant Certification?
Answer: The amount of time it takes to earn your Optical Assistant Certification depends on the specific training program or school you choose. Most programs can be completed in 6 months or less.
4. What are the benefits of becoming an Optical Assistant?
Answer: Becoming an Optical Assistant offers many benefits including job stability, job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities within the eye care industry. You will also have access to specialized knowledge about lenses and frames that can help you better serve your patients.
5. Is there financial aid available for obtaining my Optical Assistant Certification?
Answer: Yes, there may be several sources of financial aid available for obtaining your Optical Assistant Certification depending on where you study and which type of program you choose. It is best to contact the school or institution directly for more information about their specific financial aid options.