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Thread: UK (FBDO) qualified dispensing optician looking to move to USA...

  1. #1
    Bad address email on file
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Cambridge, UK

    Confused UK (FBDO) qualified dispensing optician looking to move to USA...

    I am a UK qualified dispensing optician (FBDO...Federation of British Dispensing Optician) and (GOC-General Optical Council)registered, with 5 years experience, planning to move to the USA.

    I would like to find out how I can work in the USA. Do I need to sit any exams? Can I work in the USA with an Association of British Dispensing Optician (ABDO) qualification? Do I need to get a practice license? and what is the salary like for DO's with experience?

    Your comments will be highly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Master OptiBoarder Joann Raytar's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Dispensing Optician
    Welcome to OptiBoard rizwan!

    The answers to all of your questions really depend on what state you are planning to move to. There are no regulated national standards that are required in all states. Some states require licensure and some do not. We have two national certification tests, ABO and NCLE, that are required in some states but optional in others. There also some states that have their own examinations that you must sit for to gain licensure. There are also certain states that require a certain time period of state registered apprenticeship.

    If you follow the links below you will get an idea about each state's requirements.As far as what UK certifications you would be able to transfer into a states licensure program, that I am not sure about.

  3. #3
    Master OptiBoarder
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Dispensing Optician
    Your qualification doesn't automatically transfer to the US. This is mostly because they can't even decide amongst the individual states what they want as a qualification, never mind anyone else's :)

    However, it's not all bad. Whereas we have a set amount of time to study in order to qualify as a DO, at specific ABDO approved colleges, Americans tend to use the apprentice system, so you just sit the exams when you're ready. Since our exams are a lot harder, you should be able to sit their ones with a minimum of revision. It does all depend on the state, though, and you probably will have to work for unqualified salary to start off. Again, though, the salary depends on the state, the town, and the cost of living, so your guess is as good as mine.

    You don't even want to know about the visa applications, though!

  4. #4
    Master OptiBoarder Darryl Meister's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Kansas City, Kansas, United States
    Lens Manufacturer
    The good news for you (and bad news for most American opticians) is that most states do not require you to be licensed or certified to work as an optician. Moreover, even in the states that do require licensure and an exam of some sort, it generally doesn't apply to you if you are employed by an optometrist (doctor of optometry) since you are working under his or her license. Consequently, I suspect that the vast majority of opticians in the United States are not licensed.

    That said, it is important to note that experience, education, and certifications are still important to most employers -- particularly those in unlicensed states (which have no other means of demonstrating minimum performance competency). These skills and certifications make you a more marketable optician/employee, even in a state that requires none.

    As Maria pointed out, your examinations and certifications are generally more difficult than American ones. Unfortunately, most employers will not realize this fact without a compelling explanation from you. I would recommend taking the ABO exam immediately, which is a national voluntary certification examination recognized by most in the optical industry. This examination also serves as the basic exam requirement for many of the various state licenses. If you know what state you plan to reside in you should contact the appropriate opticianry licensing board for that state -- if there is one -- for its requirements, as Jo pointed out.

    The Opticians Association of America and National Academy of Opticianry at one time kept track of each state, its licensing requirements (if any), and its opticianry licensing board. You might start with them at either or It will probably be more difficult for you to become an official citizen of the United States than an optician in United States.

    Best regards,
    Last edited by Darryl Meister; 12-27-2001 at 08:48 PM.

  5. #5
    Cape Codger OptiBoard Gold Supporter hcjilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Cape Cod, Hyannis, MA. USA
    Dispensing Optician

    Most licensed states will recognize....

    Welcome to the board! In answer to your question, Most licensed states will recognize credentials from outside the US, as a basis for licensure.Many may require the passage of a practical exam which should not be difficult for an optician with 5 years of experience. In Massachusetts, for example, your British credentials would be accepted and since you met the requirements for licensure before March 1st of 01, the practical would be waived.Due to the nature of the Federal system, the rights of individual states to make their own rules takes precedence over Federal mandate, hence no one standard for all.

    This situation has a lot more to do with the intransigence of some states to make more regulations and create more beurocracy, than it has to do with the states not being able to "agree".Abandoning the apprenticeship avenue, while perhaps being the proper route to take, is impractical for the most part because it would require changing existing law.This is a very difficult thing to do in ANY country, as I am sure all who read this will realize.( another subject for a thread at a future date)

    Point well taken in Maria's reply about visa's and difficulties encountered on that score.She has investigated that and may be able to give you some ideas.

    Concerning the pay scale here, don't come with the expectation of making great wealth.....Opticians are only modestly compensated.Its like any other industry, if you are enterprising you will do just fine! Good luck.
    Harry J
    "Always laugh when you can. It is a cheap medicine"
    Lord Byron

    Take a photo tour of Cape Cod and the Islands!

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