Missouri has no government organization that is responsible for setting and enforcing optician training, certification, or licensing requirements. There are currently 22 states that allow optical employers to set their own standards for what they expect from an optician applicant. Since there are a wide range of optical employers, it is not uncommon to find a variety of skill sets among opticians in these states. Some large employers only train opticians in the basics of the job while other employers will provide training that is comprehensive.
Employers will usually arrange for newly hired opticians to be trained by experienced opticians who work in the same office. Some of these employers choose to only train opticians to perform tasks that are very basic including retail sales strategies and minor frame adjustments. It is important for opticians to understand that, in these settings, they may not receive the kind of comprehensive training that comes with certification. Some optical employers actively encourage their opticians to voluntarily complete the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Certification Examinations. These employers may even offer to pay the fees associated with the exams and reimburse for the costs of review materials.
There are a few reasons why opticians should voluntarily complete the certification process. One of the most appealing benefits of being certified is the fact that employers pay credentialed opticians more. They do this because they understand that a certified optician requires less training and support. Customers are also more comfortable receiving assistance from someone who they know has met national standards for competence. This can go a long way in establishing customer loyalty and can be used as a marketing advantage over other optical businesses.
Another important reason for completing certification is the ability to transfer credentials between both regulated and unregulated states. Opticians who decide to move to a regulated state at some point in their career can find it very frustrating to be required to go back to school, work as an apprentice, or pass the certification exams before receiving a license. Certified opticians are commonly allowed to apply for a license through reciprocity.