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Better Yourself in 2021 With This Variety of Resources to Advance Your Optical Career

Why not become an office manager who is also a Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) or a technician who is NCLE certified?




IT’S BEEN MORE than 12 years since I began working in optometry at the front desk. I followed that by becoming a technician; then landed and stuck as an optician. Why does this matter? I continued to improve and work towards something I wanted to turn into a career … each position helped me with the next.

In the spirit of the new year, I challenge you to make a resolution to better your professional self in 2021. Why not become an office manager who is also a Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) or a tech who is NCLE certified? Attaining certification will distinguish you as dedicated and competent. If you’re in an office where your advancement isn’t a priority or you do not have a mentor, I encourage you to take initiative and find the resources on your own. Keep learning, continue to better yourself, your colleagues and your employees.

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According to the ABO-NCLE (American Board of Opticianry-National Contact Lens Examiners), “certified employees earn approximately $6,000 more per year than noncertified employees.” The ABO-NCLE offers basic and advanced certification in opticianry and for contact lens examiners, and masters designations in ophthalmic optics and contact lens technology. The American Optometric Association offers certifications as a paraoptometric, assistant and technician. If you work in ophthalmology, the Joint

Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) offers certifications as an ophthalmic scribe, assistant, technician and others. Look through the certifications and their requirements to find the right fit for you.

You may wonder where to start looking … well, I am here to help! Optician Now provides a variety of resources, categorized by ABO, NCLE and optical training materials. There are endless resources listed but I’ve pulled out the staples.

First of all, the bibles of opticianry. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned vet, you will reference these time and time again: System For Ophthalmic Dispensing and Tops: Training for Optical Professionals.


My savior when I studied for the ABO exam was the Open Optix ABO Study Guide, which was written by volunteer members of the optical community. This guide is currently maintained by Laramy-K Optician Works and is titled The Ultimate ABO Study Guide.

For test practice, I recommend Optigal’s Q&A for the NOCE (National Opticianry Competency Exam). This book contains 500 questions written in the same format as the exam itself.

Videos! If you have not yet watched and learned something at some point from the Laramy-K YouTube Channel I’d be surprised. They have over 120 videos covering nearly everything optical.

NCLE prep material is harder to come by but here is the book to help: Optigal’s Introduction To Contact Lens Fitting. This manual breaks down the key points that you need to know, keeping in mind that you’re a beginning contact lens fitter.

The National Academy of Opticianry offers Zoom courses with industry experts, specifically for ABO and NCLE prep. They are great because you can learn from a live person, ask questions and get feedback. Check their website for scheduled events.

Links to all these resources, and general optical education, are available at in the education section.


Carissa Dunphy, ABOC, has been working in private practice optometry since 2008. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Optician Now ( and recently launched Follow Carissa on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at @opticiannow.



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