Opticians Association of Georgia: The Georgia Opticianry Licensure Process
Dispensing Optician Apprentice Registration Form
The practice of Opticianry in Georgia is defined in OCGA (Official Code of Georgia Annotated) 43-29-7. This is the statutory law that stipulates qualification procedures to become licensed as an Optician in Georgia. Statutory or Code law is the prevailing legal authority in such matters. Laws from other states have no standing on how Georgia laws are implemented and enforced.
There are 2 routes to licensure in Georgia. One involves formal education i.e., attendance and graduation from a recognized school of Opticianry as defined by state statue, and the other involves obtaining the necessary background to qualify for licensure thru a 2 year state registered apprenticeship.
In either case thru formal education or a registered apprenticeship, the state of Georgia requires the passing of a state administered practical examination, and the passage of the ABO/NCLE tests. The state of Georgia does not explicitly specify a sequential order to meeting these testing requirements. However, logically speaking it would make sense to have background theory knowledge to competitively sit for the ABO/NCLE examinations. Self-study is of minimal value without a body of knowledge (basic theory) base to work from. The state of Georgia does not administer the ABO/NCLE examinations. These tests are administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) www.abo-ncle.org. This organization has sole control over its own qualification and test administration procedures.
It has been conclusively established approximately 80% of most Georgia licensure candidates pursue the apprenticeship route to licensure. The apprenticeship process unfortunately is where a lot of misinformation continuously circulates.
For the purpose of clarity the following steps systematically apply:
- The apprentice training standards were amended in state law in 2K8. This is the operative law and presumption of “grandfathering” does not apply.
- Prospective apprentices are required to register with the state of Georgia for a 2 calendar year apprenticeship. This is not an optional step. The 2 year period begins with the receipt of a registration card from the state of Georgia indicating the applicants recognized status with the state.
- The 2 year apprenticeship period includes obtaining a minimum of 3000 hours of PTE (Practical Training and Experience). This requirement is carefully spelled out in OCGA 43-29-7 paras. b-d. This is not an either or whatever comes first requirement. It is inclusive as stipulated.
- OCGA 43-29-7 requires an academic or educational component to apprenticeship training. Under the law there are different options to acquire this required and (documented) education. One of the readily available options that is state of Georgia approved is the OCPP Ophthalmic Career Progression Program). This home study course is available through the NAO (National Academy of Opticianry) www.nao.org. Completion of this program meets the academic component of the training specified in the law. This program is available and administered solely by the NAO.
- All apprenticeship registrations require documented proof of a valid licensed practitioner sponsorship. This information will be requested in the apprentice application process. Should the relationship terminate, both parties i.e. sponsor and trainee are to notify the state board of all status changes. All new sponsorship relationships are to be notified to the state board promptly. The NAO OCPP home study program requires proof of sponsorship as well. This can be the same sponsor.
- Upon completion of the specified 2 year apprenticeship, the applicant will apply thru the GSBDO (Georgia State Board of Disp. Opticians) to take a practical examination. To complete the licensure process and have a license to practice issued, the applicant will additionally provide proof of successful passing of the ABO/NCLE national certification exams. With all relevant factors in order the candidate will be issued a license.
- Graduates of recognized Opticianry school programs are exempted from the apprenticeship guidelines to qualify for the state board practical exam, but incur the same obligations to pass the ABO/NCLE exams in order to become licensed.
- The law applies to where you are….not where you’re from!