The Board believes that proper and continuous training, and recognition of such through professional licensing, is a part of its mission to protect public health and see to the provision of quality vision services for the state's citizens. Requirements for licensure as a North Carolina dispensing optician combine practical training and more formalized education.
NC residents can register for and complete a 2 1/2-year Apprenticeship program that encompasses both on-the-job training and an opticianry certificate program. Apprentices are 'tested' periodically through the program, so that both the trainer and the trainee evaluate progress and areas for improvement/additional training.
A number of community colleges also offer an Applied Associate in Science (AAS) degree in Opticianry; we feel fortunate that NC's Durham Technical Community College houses this degree program. Much of the Opticianry curriculum is now offered online for distance-learning and degree completion.
Once a registrant's Apprenticeship program is certified complete by their trainer, or an individual provides proof of an Associate's degree in opticianry, they are eligible to sit for the Licensure Exam. The Exam is offered twice yearly (at Durham Technical Community College), with application and $300 fee due into the Board office no later than 60 days before the Exam date.
Since North Carolina has opticianry statutes applicable to non-resident applicants, there is no "reciprocity with" or "transfer of" another state's optician's license. Licensees from other states can apply for NC licensure by Exam waiver. Statutory and Rule requirements are applied to an applicant's type and period of licensure, and their practical experience. Some applicants may not qualify for full waiver and may be required to take a portion of NC's Exam.
Individuals who reside and practice in states that do not license opticians may qualify for Exam entry by meeting statutory and Rule requirements applicable to their circumstances.
All candidates for licensure, whether by degree completion, apprenticeship or out-of-state application, must complete a six-month internship.
Licensure candidates submit an Internship Completion form, a written request (stating license name preference) and $100 fee for a printed license.
NC-licensed opticians are required to attend 8 hours' continuing education each year, to keep their practice skills sharp and to qualify them for the next year's license renewal. Licenses expire automatically on January 1 of each year, and are renewable prior to that date by submitting a renewal form, proof of the CECs obtained during the year, and the renewal fee. Renewals submitted after January 15 are assessed a late fee.
There is no provision for a NC optician to place their license "on hold" or in suspension. A license can be left unrenewed for two years, but the required CE hours AND the renewal and late fees must be "caught up" and submitted before the license can be brought to current status. If a license is left unrenewed for more than two years it cannot be reinstated.
Licensees can obtain duplicate certificates upon request and payment of the appropriate fee.
So that appropriate information can be most effectively communicated all licensed opticians, trainers, and trainees are required to keep the Board aware of changes in addresses (electronic and mailing) and/or employment.