Frequently Asked Questions
How many hours do I need to maintain my license?
Continuing education requirements for dispensing opticians.
The purpose of continuing education is to ensure the continued high quality of services provided by licensed dispensing opticians. Continuing education consists of programs of learning which contribute directly to the advancement or enhancement of skills in the field of opticianry, designed to keep the licensed dispensing opticians informed of current and forecasted developments in a rapidly changing field.
(1) Basic requirements. Licensed dispensing opticians whose three-year continuing education reporting cycle begins on or after June 1, 2015, must complete thirty hours of continuing education every three years as required in chapter 246-12 WAC, Part 7. Of the thirty hours every three years:
(a) A minimum of five hours must be completed in each of the three years;
(b) At least fifteen of the credit hours must relate to contact lenses.
(2) Approved continuing education courses may be completed through the following methods or activities:
(a) Attendance at a local state or national program;
(b) Self-study through distance learning;
(c) Electronically through webinar or video presentations.
(3) Courses offered by the following organizations are presumed to qualify as continuing education courses. The secretary reserves the right to refuse to accept credits in any course if the secretary determines that the course did not provide information sufficient in amount or relevancy to opticianry:
(a) American Board of Opticianry;
(b) National Academy of Opticianry;
(c) Optical Laboratories Association;
(d) National Contact Lens Examiners;
(e) Contact Lens Society of America;
(f) Opticians Association of Washington;
(g) Joint Commission of Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology;
(h) Council on Optometric Practitioner Education;
(i) Opticianry colleges or universities approved by the secretary;
(j) Speakers sponsored by any of the above organizations;
(k) Any state or national opticianry association; and
(l) Additional qualifying organizations or associations as approved by the secretary.
Will I be audited by the state licensing for credit hours?
Yes, names are pulled at random for audit. You must obtain a C.E. credit slip or confirmation after each seminar or course and retain it for proof of participation in case of audit. This is done at random, no one is singled out.
What tests are required to obtain my WA State Dispensing Opticians License?
The state-administered exam has been replaced with the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) basic and practical examinations. This change happened because of the age of the state exam, poor test results, and the closing of Seattle Central Community College's opticianry program, the long-standing location for the state exam.
How do I become an OAW member?
What are the benefits of becoming an OAW member?
Includes a Free Dual Membership to the Opticians Association of America
Free CE Credits at Local Chapter Meeting
Reduced Convention Rates
Dedicated Legislative Lobbyist
Statewide Job Listings
Discounts on Education Resources & Materials
ABO, NCLE, or DOH credits
Network of Peers and Vendors
Business Discounts (Red Lion Hotels, Office Max, Hertz Rentals)
How can I get more involved with the OAW?
The OAW has several committees that work to support and improve the lives of Opticians in Washington state. Reach out to us if you have interest in any of the following committees:
What is required to obtain my Washington Licensed Dispensing Optician License?
a prescribed course in opticianry in a college or university approved by the secretary of health (online options are available)
a 6,000 hour (3-6 year) apprenticeship in Washington state
OR have been principally engaged in practicing as a dispensing optician not in the state of Washington for at least five years. These applicants must provide credentials that prove they have been engaged as a practicing dispensing optician for at least five years in another state. That other state must also have standards that are either equal to or greater than the standards established in Washington. Any one of these certifications is required to be approved to take the state license exam.
ABO practical (this is virtual and demonstrations are available on ABO-NCLE.org)
NCLE practical (this is virtual and demonstrations are available on ABO-NCLE.org)
Where can I obtain formal Opticianry Education now that Seattle Central College is closed?
Will two years at any college fulfill the two years requirement to take the test?
No, the schooling must be at a Board-approved opticianry school. Please CLICK HERE for a list of approved programs.
How do I update my details for my license?
After completing the form submit it to the Department of Health by:
What if I have a license from a state other than Washington?
What equipment am I required to have to practice as a licensed dispensing opticiaon who fits contact lenses?
Dispensing opticians shall have direct access to the following equipment while fitting contact lenses:
slitlamp or biomicroscope (for evaluation of the fit only),
What are the fees and renewal cycles for licensed dispensing opticians?
If I am employed by a doctor at a private practice, am I required to be licensed?
No, not at this time. Unlicensed individuals can work in the same way as a dispensing optician as long as they are under the personal supervision of a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Can I file a complaint for a non-compliant practitioner?
There are several ways to file a complaint if you suspect a practioner or facility is not following the law.
I have a question that is not listed here, who do I contact for an answer?
If you have a question, please email us and we will do our best to find information to help you with your question.
I already passed the ABO and NCLE exams. Will I need to take these exams again?
If you passed the basic or advanced ABO exam, the ABO practical, the basic or advanced NCLE exam and/or the NCLE practical on or after June 1, 2015, you do not need to retake any of the exams you passed on or after that date. You are eligible to be licensed in Washington if you also meet all other licensing requirements. If you took any of these exams before June 1, 2015, you will need to retake those examinations taken before that date.
How long does a practioner need to retain a patients contact lens records?
Does the OAW do wage surveys?
Yes. Every couple of years we reach out to get information from opticians in Washington state. To see the 2021 Wage Survey results, click here