Before pursuing any career, it’s important to consider the level of commitment needed to bring your goals to fruition. You should have a good understanding of the educational requisites, the licensing process, and the amount of time and expense it will take to land the career of your dreams. Especially in healthcare and medicine, many careers take years of schooling, plus years of graduate study, to achieve. However, this is not always the case. Many booming health-related careers can be obtained in less than two years’ time. Below, we take a close look at the field of ophthalmic science and vision care.
If you are considering becoming an optician in Connecticut, you are already asking the right questions: What are the standard optician requirements? How long does it take to become an optician? How do I get started? You may even be asking how to get there – into a career in eyecare – relatively fast.
To understand the amount of time it takes to become an optician in Connecticut, it’s important to first understand the necessary steps to get there. According to the CT Department of Labor, there are two educational paths you can take to become an optician in Connecticut today. Aspiring opticians can either complete an associate degree program, approved by the Connecticut Board of Examiners for Opticians, OR complete at least four years and 8,000 hours of apprenticeship training under a licensed optician. Generally, pursuing an associate degree in Ophthalmic Science (or similar), is the most popular and streamlined route.
How long does it take to get an associate degree in this field? While time commitments can vary by program and school, it usually takes about two years to complete an associate degree in opticianry or vision care technology. Some optician programs, however, have more flexible formats, for those looking to complete a degree fast. The Vision Care Technology program at Goodwin College, for example, offers three academic sessions per year for faster degree completion. Compared to the apprenticeship training path (4+ years), pursuing an associate degree is the most efficient way to become an optician today.
Of course, the path to becoming an optician does not end with education. There is another step you must take before you can practice in the field: licensure. Every state has different optician licensing requirements. In Connecticut, opticians must receive certification from the Connecticut State Department of Health, which requires:
- Proof of an associate degree or equivalent work experience, as described above
- Successful completion of the Connecticut State Board Practical Examination and Jurisprudence Examination
- Successful completion of the American Board of Opticianry’s (ABO) National Opticianry Competency Exam and National Contact Lens Exam
Each of the ABO’s examinations are 2.5 hours long. These exams are offered quarterly – in February, May, August, and November – so you never have to wait long to apply for your optician license. Typically, it takes eight to ten weeks to receive the examination results via mail, according to the ABO.
All in all, it is possible to become a licensed optician in less than two years in Connecticut. Compared to other popular areas of ophthalmology, this is a pretty fast-paced route towards a successful career. For example:
- Optometrists, the doctors who administer eye exams, must complete a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree and obtain a license to practice in a particular state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, O.D. programs take 4 years to complete, and most students have a four-year bachelor’s degree before entering such a program, equating to more than 8 years of school.
- Ophthalmologists are eye doctors who treat conditions and diseases of the eye. Similar to optometrists, they also must obtain a graduate-level or professional degree – either a medical (MD) or osteopathic degree (DO). This involves an undergraduate degree (4 years), plus 4 years of medical school, plus 3 to 8 years in a residency and internship.
While opticians are not eye doctors (and therefore do not require years of medical school), they do have a very important job in the greater field of vision care. On a daily basis, opticians help design, measure, fit, and adapt eyeglasses and contact lenses for their clients, based on their optical prescription and lifestyle needs. Their job involves careful measurement of clients’ faces, a solid understanding of prescription specifications, and an advanced knowledge of optical laboratory technology.
With the right optician program in your court, you can gain all of these skills (and more) in just a matter of months. In addition to meeting the optician educational requirements, an associate degree program can give you the critical-thinking, communication, and customer service skills you need to be successful.
If you choose to pursue Goodwin College’s Vision Care Technology program in Connecticut – accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation – you can also expect to gain hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art optical laboratory and training store: fabricating eyeglasses, designing and dispensing contact lenses, and helping real-life customers in our storefront.
How long will it take you to become an optician, and to start on your career goals? Get started today by calling Goodwin College at 800-889-3282 or by requesting more information online.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.