Kansas has no government agency that establishes and enforces optician training, certification, and licensing requirements. There are approximately 22 states, like Kansas, that have no regulations governing the opticianry industry, but that does not mean that an optician will not need to be certified in order to find employment. Some large optical employers only expect opticians to possess a foundational understanding of the industry while other employers may expect comprehensive knowledge and skills.
Large optical employers have a tendency to focus a lot on operational efficiency and specialization of employees. These employers sometimes only train opticians to perform retail sales and basic frame adjustments. It is important for opticians, in these settings, to understand that they may not acquire the necessary skills to work in many other offices. Smaller employers tend to prefer to hire opticians who have formal education and training and who have been certified by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). These employers may even pay the cost of the exams and reimburse opticians for study materials that they need to purchase.
There are many benefits associated with voluntary certification. The first, and probably most appealing, is the fact that certified opticians tend to get paid more. Optical employers understand that optician credentials are an asset to their business because they can be used as a marketing advantage over competitors. This can often be used in an effort to attract and retain customers. Employers also know that certification represents a comprehensive understanding of the industry and is an indication that an optician will not require as much training or support. This can save employers money and improve the financial performance of the business.
Another important benefit that comes with certification is the ability to transfer credentials between regulated and unregulated states. This can be a huge positive for opticians who decide to move at some point in their career. Most regulated states will allow certified opticians to become licensed through reciprocity. Opticians who have not been certified may need to return to school, work as an apprentice, or complete the ABO and NCLE exams before being licensed.