The Board believes that proper and continuous training, and recognition of such through professional licensing, is a part of its mission to protect public health and see to the provision of quality vision services for the state's citizens. Requirements for licensure as a North Carolina dispensing optician combine practical training and more formalized education.

A North Carolina Resident ??

NC residents can register for and complete a 2 1/2-year Apprenticeship program that encompasses both on-the-job training and an opticianry certificate program. Apprentices are 'tested' periodically through the program, so that both the trainer and the trainee evaluate progress and areas for improvement/additional training.

A number of community colleges also offer an Applied Associate in Science (AAS) degree in Opticianry; we feel fortunate that NC's Durham Technical Community College houses this degree program. Much of the Opticianry curriculum is now offered online for distance-learning and degree completion.

Once a registrant's Apprenticeship program is certified complete by their trainer, or an individual provides proof of an Associate's degree in opticianry, they are eligible to apply for the State Licensure Exam.

Changes to the Exam process and content were made in December 2016, when the Board transitioned to use of the ABO/NCLE national exams for the state's licensure exams. Notice was sent to all licensees and trainees. Elibibility for Exam participation must be verified by Board by submitting application and $300 fee into the Board office no later than 30 days before the published deadline for ABO/NCLE exam registration.

Practicing Opticianry Elsewhere, Considering a Move to NC, and/or wanting a NC License ??

Since North Carolina has opticianry statutes applicable to non-resident applicants, there is no "reciprocity with" or "transfer of" another state's optician's license. Licensees from other states can apply for NC licensure by Exam waiver. Statutory and Rule requirements are applied to an applicant's type and period of licensure, and their practical experience. Some applicants may not qualify for full waiver and may be required to take a portion of NC's Exam.

Individuals who reside and practice in states that do not license opticians may qualify for Exam entry by meeting statutory and Rule requirements applicable to their circumstances.

Internship Required before Licensure

All candidates for licensure, whether by degree completion, apprenticeship or out-of-state application, must complete a six-month internship.

When All Requirements are Met

Licensure candidates submit an Internship Completion form, a written request (stating license name preference) and $100 fee for a printed license.

And After a License is Issued

NC-licensed opticians are required to attend 8 hours' continuing education each year, to keep their practice skills sharp and to qualify them for the next year's license renewal. Licenses expire automatically on January 1 of each year, and are renewable prior to that date by submitting a renewal form, proof of the CECs obtained during the year, and the renewal fee. Renewals received after January 15 are assessed a late penalty.

There is currently no provision for a NC optician to place their license "on hold" or in suspension. A license can be left unrenewed for two years, but the required CE hours AND the renewal and late fees must be "caught up" and submitted before the license can be brought to current status. If a license is left unrenewed for more than two years it cannot be reinstated.

Licensees can obtain duplicate certificates upon request and payment of the appropriate fee.

So that appropriate information can be most effectively communicated all licensed opticians, trainers, and trainees are required to keep the Board aware of changes in addresses (electronic and mailing) and/or employment.