Basic ABO Certification

The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) is nationally recognized as the standard for optician competence assessment. Opticians working in both regulated and unregulated states are commonly required to pass the National Opticianry Competency Exam (NOCE) and the Contact Lens Registry Exam (CLRE). Opticians in unregulated states voluntarily complete these exams due to the benefits that they provide both the optician and the employer. To ensure a passing score, it is very important to have an understanding of the exam structure.

Exam Structure

Both the NOCE and the CLRE Exams consist of 125 questions. The exams are administered on a computer and individuals are given two and a half hours to complete each test. In order to qualify to take the exams, an applicant must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Both the NOCE and CLRE cost $225 in order to sit for the exams. The exams are administered at over 250 testing sites nationwide twice each year.

General Exam Preparation

The NOCE and CLRE have been described as difficult exams. Opticians who have at least two to three years of experience or have completed a degree program typically have a higher pass rate. Opticians in unregulated states generally receive training that focuses on the skills needed to perform tasks that employers include in the optician job description. While this type of training may work well for acceptable job performance, it does not ensure that an optician receives comprehensive optician training. For this reason, it may be necessary for opticians in these states to invest more time and effort in the exam preparation process.

Exam Topics

To better prepare opticians for the NOCE and CLRE Exams, the ABO has provided a general outline of what is covered on the exams. The NOCE Exam covers analyzing and interpreting prescriptions, fitting and dispensing spectacles and other ophthalmic devices, and the use of standard ophthalmic equipment. The CLRE Exam covers prefit, preparation and evaluation, diagnostic fit and evaluation, lens dispensing, patient education and delivery procedures, follow-up visits, and administrative issues. As you can see, these exams cover a wide range of topics that may or may not be taught to opticians in unregulated states. Opticianry degree programs and apprenticeships in regulated states have been designed to prepare opticians for each of the topics covered by the NOCE and CLRE Exams. These topics should be reviewed in-depth prior to taking the exams.

ABO Certification Renewal

The ABO will issue you a certificate once you have passed the examinations. This certificate can be displayed in your place of employment to demonstrate to customers that you have met national competency standards in the optician industry. The certificate must be renewed every three years through the completion of continuing education and payment of a small fee. Continuing education is an important process for ensuring ongoing competence and communicating updated standards and practices.

Forms and Documents

8 Responses

  1. Attias
    Attias May 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm | | Reply

    Hello, I’m an optician in France and I would like to buy a business in California. If I pass the ABO can I work alone in the shop? Thanks!

  2. Margaux
    Margaux February 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm | | Reply


    So…I can take the ABO exam, become certified, and then go to work? And all of this can be accomplished online by studying through the resources you have mentioned? I study, take the test, pass, get certified and get to work? Is that it?


  3. Allison
    Allison December 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm | | Reply

    Is there a difference between obtaining the ABO certification and obtaining a state license? I also was curious what requirements are needed to obtain the certification and the license if they are not the same.


  4. Marigold Trimborn
    Marigold Trimborn June 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm | | Reply


    I am interested in training to become an optician, and I am having difficulty finding training in San Diego, CA. I want to learn in a class vs. online training. Do you have any suggestions where to start?? I already been selling EW for 3 years for Oakley, but want to further my career.

    Thank You,

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