Opticians Association of Georgia
The Georgia Opticianry Licensure Process: On formal education and recognized schools
The state of Georgia offers two routes to licensure. This post addresses the formal education route as authorized by statutory or code law OCGA 43-29-7 which is the controlling legal authority in matters such as this.
There are two categories of schools approved by the state of Georgia. The first is state approved programs authorized by the TCSG (Technical College System of Georgia). These programs are diploma programs, as opposed to 2 year degree programs, but are authorized by state statue to permit graduates to be eligible for the state board practical exam. These programs are based on applicable eligibility criteria and allow enrollees to participate in the state of Georgia Hope Grant program. Hope Grants are NOT to be confused with the Hope Scholarship program which is a separate program administered by the University System of Georgia.
The 3 TCSG state approved diploma schools in Georgia are:
- Georgia Piedmont Technical College – Clarkston GA
Lanard Collin Atkins, Program Director; [email protected]
- Ogeechee Technical College – Statesboro GA
(Ogeechee Technical College additionally offers a 2 year COA accredited degree program.)
- Wiregrass Technical College – Valdosta GA
Lisa Griffin, Optical Program coordinator; or [email protected]
All three state technical college programs require an application process for admission. Eligibility for taking the state board practical exam - as specified - is based strictly on completion or graduation from the program. Contact each school as provided for to obtain more information regarding enrollment, etc.
Another category of recognized schools in the state of Georgia is based on 2 year degree programs as accredited by the COA (Commission on Opticianry Accreditation) www.coaccreditation.com. The COA is the sole national accrediting agency for 2 year degree programs in the country. The unique distinction of the 2 year degree programs is in the area of academic credential transferability, as it relates to meeting licensure eligibility standards in different states based on educational attainment. Generally speaking the 2 year degree is the universally accepted definition of education across the state licensure candidate landscape. Simply put graduates of 2 year COA accredited degree programs are typically eligible for state board licensure exams – and other local state specified criteria - upon application.
While both categories of Opticianry program graduates are exempted from the requirements of apprenticeship as provided for in state statue OCGA 43-29-7 para. b-d, all category of applicants for licensure must provide evidence of passing the ABO/NCLE national certification exams to meet all the requirements of receiving a license to practice. Opticianry program graduates are eligible for the ABO/NCLE Advanced Certification exams after 1 renewal cycle of having basic ABO/NCLE certification. The Advanced Certification program is the intermediate step to Master level certification in either spectacles and/or contact lenses.
At this point in time online programs from institutions such as Penn Foster and NCE (National Career Education) Center, etc., are not recognized by the Georgia state board for the purpose of licensure candidate eligibility. If licensure is not the goal, these programs and others similar may be suitable for eligibility of ABO/NCLE certification singularly, and with other non-licensed occupational categories. Licensure as opposed to various certifications, are not the same credentials. Licensure establishes professional accountability and authority to practice a designated occupation. Certification(s) in the context at issue does not. There is no such category of “partial licensure” based on registered apprentice or certification status. In any and all cases, it is strongly recommended to research all educational programs - prior to enrollment - for suitability of professional credentialing goals.