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How to Become a Licensed Dispensing Optician in Washington State

An applicant must have successfully completed at least one of the following:

  • 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. 


The student or apprentice must also pass all required licensing exams, which is a series of 4 standardized tests. These exams can be taken throughout the course of study or apprenticeship. These tests are administered at various testing centers throughout Washington state. Accommodations have been made in the age of COVID as well. 

The tests are as follows:

  1. ABO basic 

  2. NCLE basic

  3. ABO practical (this is virtual and demonstrations are available on

  4. NCLE practical (this is virtual and demonstrations are available on  


A Washington Dispensing Optician License is only approved once all requirements are met.


The Opticians Association of Washington recognizes the need for more education assistance and are working to build a support program for apprentices.


The National Academy of Opticianry has valuable study materials available for purchase to assist in successful completion of required exams.

Promoting the professional stature of opticianry through educational opportunities, legislative activity, and national communications.

The OAW hosts opportunities throughout the year to earn continuing education credits. Visit our events page for updates!

The OAW consists of optical professionals from every corner of Washington state and beyond.

The OAW is proud to support many organizations that provide free or low-cost eyecare to our communities.


PO Box 1447 

Richland, WA 99352


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