Maine has no regulations that establish optician training, certification, or licensing requirements. The opticianry industry is currently unregulated in approximately twenty-two states. These states typically allow employers to establish their own standards for what they expect from opticians. Due to the wide variety of optical employers, in the state of Maine, opticians are commonly trained to perform different job-related tasks based on the type of establishment where they work.
Employers in these states typically arrange to have new opticians trained by experienced opticians who work in the same office. Opticians in these situations may only acquire the knowledge and skills required to perform retail sales and minor frame adjustments. For this reason, it is often a good idea for opticians to voluntarily complete the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Exams. Sometimes, an employer will encourage opticians to complete the exams and may even offer to pay the associated fees. This is an ideal situation for opticians because they are able to advance their career without any added expense on their part.
There are a couple of important benefits that come with voluntary completion of the ABO and NCLE exams. The first benefit, and probably the most enticing, is the fact that many employers will pay certified opticians more money. Optical employers understand that credentials are an asset to their business and that many customers prefer to receive assistance from individuals who they know have met national standards for competence. Optician credentials are also a sign that individuals will require less training and support. Certification can also be used as a marketing advantage over competition in an effort to attract and retain customers.
Another important benefit is the ability to transfer credentials between regulated and unregulated states. Opticians who have been certified are usually able to become licensed in regulated states through reciprocity. This opens the door to more job opportunities if an optician decides to move to a regulated state at some point in their career. Opticians who have no credentials may be required to go back to school, work as an apprentice, or pass the ABO and NCLE exams before being licensed.