Illinois has no state agency that establishes optician training, certification, or licensing requirements. This is fairly common among states and there are currently only about twenty-three states that have such requirements. While the state of Illinois does not regulate the practice of opticianry, you may find that optical employers have their own unique expectations of the opticians they hire. Many employers, in unregulated states, will arrange to have new opticians trained by experienced opticians.
The level of training and skill that an optician acquires will be largely dependent on the type of employer. Some optical employers may elect to have opticians primarily focus on retail sales and minor frame adjustments while other employers may encourage opticians to complete the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) Exam and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Exam. These exams are nationally recognized as the standard for optician competence assessment and they offer some very appealing benefits. Opticians should see if their employer is willing to pay the associated exam fees and reimburse for purchased review materials.
One of the main benefits of pursuing optician certification is the fact that employers generally pay certified opticians more. Employers understand that certified opticians require less training and support. Certification can also be viewed as an asset for the business because of its ability to create a marketing advantage over the competition. In general, customers are more comfortable interacting with individuals who they know have met national standards for competence. This can have a big influence over an optician’s ability to attract and retain customers.
Another important benefit associated with certification is the ability to transfer credentials between regulated and unregulated states. Certified opticians have more job opportunities available to them in the event that they decide to move at some point in their career. Most states allow credentialed opticians to become licensed through reciprocity while opticians who have not been certified may be required to go back to school, work as an apprentice, or complete the ABO and NCLE exams before they can be licensed.
State Contact Information:
State Association: Opticians Association of Illinois