As the practice and scope of optometry continue to evolve, optometry staff training and certifications become increasingly important.
While some training and certifications are required and others are optional, both are extremely important. Continuing your education and pursuing training and certifications will help you keep up with the latest technologies and emerging best practices in the industry.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular certifications pursued by optometrists and other eye care professionals so that you can ensure your compliance, advance your career, and become the best eye care professional you can be!
Getting Started with Optician & Optometry Certification Courses
Before we go over different certifications related to the field of optometry, it’s important to note that different optometry professions have very different education and training requirements.
To become an optometrist, one must earn an optometry degree, pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam, pass a state exam (if required), obtain a license to practice, and renew that license as needed. On top of these basic requirements, there are optional certifications, clinical training, and specialty programs to consider.
By comparison, the requirements to become an optician are less rigorous. An optician does not necessarily need to hold a formal degree but must become certified by completing a 1- to 2-year program or in-house apprenticeship under an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
If you’re wondering about the requirements to become an ophthalmologist, check out our article on the difference between optometrist vs. ophthalmologist. We also have a separate guide on how to become an ophthalmic technician or assistant.
When you’re considering different training courses and certifications, it’s also important to keep in mind that licensing requirements can vary from state to state. Be sure to conduct some local research to ensure your compliance!
Reasons to Invest in Optometry or Optician Training
Why should you invest in optometry or optician training for yourself or your staff? First and foremost, it may be required for you to practice legally. For example, optometrists may need to submit proof of continuing education (CE) to renew their license and continue practicing optometry, depending on their state requirements.
Requirements aside though, training can benefit you and your practice in many important ways:
- Regular training can help ensure ongoing competence, performance, and improved patient health by keeping you up-to-date on the industry’s newest technology and medical treatments.
- New employee training can help new team members gain confidence and hit the ground running.
- Administrative training can help you streamline practice operations and maximize profitability.
- In-person training, seminars, and conferences are great opportunities to network with other eye care professionals.
- Training and certification courses can help you advance your career and achieve your professional and personal goals.
Popular Optician & Optometry Certification Courses
Now that we’ve established the importance of ongoing training and education, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common optometry and optician certifications available.
Beyond the basic requirements to become an optometrist, many optometrists choose to pursue optional certifications. By and large, the most popular general certification for optometrists is the American Board of Optometry (ABO) certification. Perhaps this is because the American Board of Optometry is the only optometric certification board recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Although ABO Certification is optional, it can help you demonstrate competence beyond entry-level requirements, which can help bolster your credibility and increase your marketability. Obtaining board certification can also open up new professional opportunities and help you advance your career.
At some point in your career as an optometrist, you may choose to pursue a specialization. Some examples of specialty areas for optometry are medical optometry, binocular vision, pediatrics, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, and community eye care. Specialization usually requires a one-year residency program, but there are also certifications available for different areas of specialization. For example, an optometrist looking to specialize in medical optometry can gain certification through the American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry (ABCMO). Many employers recognize and value these types of certifications, and some require them.
Depending on where you practice, a certification may be required in order to earn your license and become an optician. For opticians, the two most widely-recognized, national certifications are the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) certification and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) certification. Even if an ABO-NCLE certification is not required by law, many opticians choose to pursue certification to substantiate their credentials. To prepare for these certifications, some opticians choose to attend a post-secondary school optician training program or preparation training course.
Beyond the basic/required certification for entry-level opticians, ABO and NCLE also offer advanced certifications that are only available to opticians with several years of experience in the field and advanced specialized education. These certifications focus specifically on the advanced level knowledge and skills needed for ophthalmic dispensing– e.g. providing spectacle, contact lens, and refraction services.
Other Eye Care Professional Certifications:
For other eye care professionals and optometry practice staff, there are many different training programs and certifications to consider, including the following:
- Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
- Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI)
- Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease (TMOD)
- Optometry Office Manager Certification Course (provided by PECAA!)
- American Optometric Association (AOA) Paraoptometric Certification
Access to Top Optometry Certification Courses with PECAA
No matter where you’re at in your career, PECAA membership will help you access some of the most important optometry training, continuing education, and certification programs available. Our staff training resources include but are not limited to doctor training, office manager certification courses, new employee training, ophthalmic assistant training, optician certification preparation courses, administrative training, and much more.
In addition to our extensive training resources, PECAA members will have access to networking events, professional consulting, coaching, marketing support, and everything else you need to advance your career and propel your practice forward.