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Thread: Arizona Opticians licensing

  1. #1
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    Arizona Opticians licensing

    Here we go again with a new house bill to try to eliminate Opticians license in Arizona!
    HB2740 has been introduced last week and has 10 representatives who will be considering repealing the board.
    If we have any Az licensed opticians, we need to get this info out and contact rep Hendricks at the Az legislator.

  2. #2
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Counterpoint: Welcome licensure removal. Why? Then all regulations that keep opticians from earning their true potential as individual entrepreneurs go away. If online business vendors can enjoy such advantages, why not opticians and stylists within a state.

    Discussion.

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    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    "If you can't beat them, join them"???

    Discussion: the public suffers. The legislature is paid for by the commercial outlets.

    Eventually licensure wins out, someday. "True potential" is a loaded term.

  4. #4
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Licensure only ensures the public of an entry-level set of skills. At the same time, it has kept passionate and talented opticians from being their own boss and earning what they are truly worth—which is not happening for 99% when they are employed. If the public “suffers,” then the free market will redirect tgem to those who excel and satisfy.

    B

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    Barry, licensure does guarantee at least something. In the majority of states in this country this country to use the title Optician set the bar for all of us! A PULSE. There is strong evidence here regularly that people who post here, and see themselves as professionals, can't understand basic optics!

    Here is the bottom line. As you in particular know, I have fought this battle far too long. I do not feel Licensure will happen in another states, and soon some will fall. When one goes, others will follow. It's been coming, and warnings have been loud.

    There is a wonderful opportunity and modeled after CPAs. Being a CPA in most jurisdictions is not required but sets the standard across the country. We have that model now. If an Optician (capital O) wishes to standout, and position themselves better, there will be opportunities. That was the impetus for developing the Society to Advance Opticianry years ago. I had commitments from OAA to support this movement, but they did not want another membership organization! Those who now lead that group, have members. I wanted recognition for these people who go above and beyond. When they started selling membership, I left!

    Today, there are new Certificate Programs, online and easily accessible. I'm developing one now. There are ways to learn, and remember it you feel education is expensive, try ignorance. We've been the Wizard of Oz fooling the people far too long.

    But friend, things are changing. I met some people at OAA Leadership last year. Young, bright and energetic. They look at Opticianry in a professional light, and these folks are making positive changes! They gave me hope for a brighter future!

    I'm attending Leadership again next week and look forward to seeing these new young leaders!
    Last edited by wmcdonald; 02-11-2024 at 07:59 AM.

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    Hi wm,
    this has been tried before in Az and hasn't gotten passed, but this time they seem to be attempting to sneak it though quickly and quietly. Even the house bill has no text other than the headline to repeal the board. I've tried to do my part by writing emails to the Az governor and the bill sponsors in my district as well as getting the word out to as many licensed opticians in Az. Sadly, many won't take it serious until they no longer have a license to protect.
    As the current investigator for the Az opticians board, I've seen some pretty serious violations that would go unchecked and very possibly cause harm to the patients.
    I've been looking into relocating to North Carolina but I'm not sure I would continue working in the field..

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    It's been tried regularly and funded by large corporate interests. I am not sure what harm can occur, but licensure is limited to about 20 states now. If one falls, others will follow. Coming to NC- we have a lot of openings over here for corporates, and others. If I can help in any way, let me know. Licensure here is stiff, but that's a good thing, overall.

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varmint View Post
    As the current investigator for the Az opticians board, I've seen some pretty serious violations that would go unchecked and very possibly cause harm to the patients..
    Could you detail more specifically what the “harm” would be to these patients?

    My issue with licensure is how it restricts opticians from becoming entrepreneurs. If online vendors can sell into states with no prospect of regulation, then I suppose we would see many more complaints of “harm.”

    But we’re not. Discomfort and dissatisfaction yes. Harm no.

    B

  9. #9
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    How about going into the trial contact lenses and giving contacts to a pt without a doctor's prescription or even an eye exam for apt who never wore cl. Not even giving any instruction on how to insert/ remove or care?
    Maybe that pt ends up with a serious eye infection or worse as the contacts are not suitable or compatible for this pt? Could that cause harm?
    Or how about taking a doctor's rx and trial framing and changing the rx because you believe the doctor doesn't know how to refract? Who's got the liability if the pt had an accident because their vision was not what it should be since you decided to undercorrect what the Dr asked for?
    I've experienced both of these scenarios with my investigations.
    These are only 2 that I've been involved with.
    I disagree that an unqualified dispenser can't cause harm. Arizona is also heavily populated with seniors who a lot of times have more difficult prescriptions.

  10. #10
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    Barry, Are you ok with online venders selling contacts without an Rx, or being able to walk into any of the local smoke shops and buying contacts without an Rx? Our board is continuously investigating smoke shops, gas station convenience store, t-shirt shops, and other for this. One stops and another starts up across the street. I even watched a group of teens at a swap meet booth trying on lenses and taking them out to let the others try on the same lens! I even went into a smoke shop and purchased a pair without an Rx and asked if I needed an Rx and was told no. I thought NY was a strict licensed state, does this not happen there?

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    Update today... board members spoke to the bill sponsor ahead of todays house session and learned they are trying to eliminate the optician board while moving the rules/statutes to be overseen by the optometry board. Of course the optometry board hasn't been made aware of this yet. For today the bill was tabled but will be discussed on a near future agenda.

  12. #12
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    In Europe, contacts are routinely dispensed from vending machines.
    Where are the bodies?

    B

  13. #13
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    If CLs become commodities there will be problems.

  14. #14
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    Are we saying contacts should just be de-regulated and the FDA should step aside and let anyone dispense contacts with or without a doctors rx? Why have any regulation for our profession. Maybe it's just the people in Europe are immune to eye infections and such and can wear any contacts no matter if they fit or not.
    It almost sounds like you are against opticians having any education or training. Anyone can do it, right?
    I'm just not sure what point you are making, Barry.
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    In Europe, contacts are routinely dispensed from vending machines.
    Where are the bodies?

    B

  15. #15
    OptiWizard KrystleClear's Avatar
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    I have the same thought every time this discussion comes up. I have worked in this field since 2011. I graduated college with a BA in 2010 but post-recession, my desired field pretty much went belly up and I had to find SOMETHING to support myself and pay off my student loans. I ended up getting hired by a regional optical chain on 2011. I didn't grow up dreaming of being in eyecare. It's just what was available. I think that's the case for a lot of people who are working as "dispensing opticians" who aren't licensed or certified. This was a job that was hiring and we took it. I started out at $0.50 above minimum wage.

    I am hoping to pass the ABO in March and finally be certified. Pennsylvania is not a licensed state. When I first moved from technician/front desk staff to optical, I didn't even get a pay raise. And no one offered me any really training beyond what to sell and the bare bones training on taking segment heights. I had no idea WHY I was doing things; I just knew this is what I am supposed to do so I'd do it. I think a lot of people here own their own optical shop. If you are just an employed optician, the average pay rate is not that great. Until last year, I didn't earn enough to live on my own. My pay would not cover all my bills and rent. I know many others are in the same boat. So, unless you are required to get licensed and/or certified, what's the motivation? If it was required, it would give those skilled and knowledgeable enough to pass tests and obtain licensure a leg up. Those opticians would be rarer and could command a higher pay rate. This is a trade that does require skills and expertise. And learning all the stuff required to pass the ABO or obtain state licensure ensures you understand the concepts of optics, which in turn ensures better care for patients/customers. In the past year or so that I have been studying, I feel WAY more confident in myself, even if some people still like to put those of us who aren't as knowledgeable or experienced down as just warm bodies fulfilling a role. Those warm bodies are people who happened to get into this field and want to pay their bills.

    Just my thoughts though. I get frustrated seeing disparaging comments. Employers need to do better at training new employees if they have no experience and incentivizing them to pursue further education by making it worth their while. I think we ought to earn more than someone working in a non-skilled/non-trade field. Right now, our local McDonalds is paying more per hour than the chain optical/optometry offices here pay. That's pretty sad. Big chains are making profits hand over foot and buying up all the independents but claim they can't afford to pay their employees a liveable wage. You're not going to draw in passionate, skilled, caring employees when the pay is low.

    Most of us will never make enough to even think of opening our own opticals and becoming owners. What if this was a field that actually paid a little more for the skill and expertise, like nursing or even medical assistants?
    Krystle

  16. #16
    Eyes eastward... Uilleann's Avatar
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    Licensure has become it's own worst enemy. There's so much variance state to state, none of them agree whatsoever on any form of educational or practical standard. There is no national basis they've chosen as a minimum for entry.

    ABO seems to be less and less valued with each passing year as well, as a growing number of employers scrape by trying to directly compete with big box, and on-liners, all the while accepting worse and worse terms from the big "insurance" companies in the fear that if they don't no one will ever darken their doors.

    And of course you get all the various legislators with huge chips on their shoulder because their precious little daughter Suzie was told she couldn't just wear whatever contact she wanted...or was denied a PD to buy online glasses. So they push for more and more deregulation. It's happening here in Utah too (the asinine fight over CL deregulation in this years session has been mind blowing to be sure).

    Nationally, licensure is dead. You'll never see all 50 states adopt anything close to uniformity or increased dispensing requirements. That cat is never going back in the bag.

  17. #17
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    Licensure is done by state governments to ensure a minimum knowledge of whichever specialty or trade (in many of the casese on these forums, opticianry) to ensure public safety. Personally, I don't feel that licensure restricts me in any real meaningful way other than I can't legally refract . I think the positives easily outweigh the negatives.

  18. #18
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    I started in this field in 1972 in Pennsylvania until relocating to Az in 82. Back then we did have some old timers that were good at training, and I passed the OAA test for certification, but I was shocked at how much I didn't know when I moved to the licensed state and had to take the state boards.
    I guess I'm glad I'm at the age where it won't mean too much to lose the licensing in AZ. It's just sad to see the profession continuing to be going in the direction where education and qualification means less and less.
    I miss the days where we had to actually fit the frames with the proper eye, bridge, and temple size, unlike today where it's all one size fits all.
    Out of over 800 licensed opticians in Arizona only 15 were in attendance at the house meeting to oppose the deregulation of licensing!
    After it was put on hold, I tried to convince some licensees to at least stop into the capitol and register so they can oppose the bill when it comes back to review, but they seem disinterested. Opticians have no one to blame but themselves.

  19. #19
    Master OptiBoarder optical24/7's Avatar
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    Licensure doesn’t dictate pay rate. #1, location, #2 demand for your particular skill set….

    There was a poster here years ago complaining about making 14 an hr in upstate NY. How nobody around payed more, he had a license and all that. Well the nobody’s he mentioned were the 3 other opticals in the area…No competition for Opticians in the area. I mentioned you may need to re-locate to an area that had more competition for talent…Oh, he couldn’t do that! His extended family all lived close!…Well there you go..Don’t complain if you’re not willing to relocate or work on the other side of town because it’s too far or a tough commute. Same goes with not trying to learn more, expand your portfolio, which leads to….

    Demand for skill set….Hey! You’re great at taking PD’s and you can sell ice cubes to Eskimo’s! But how good at Rx troubleshooting are you? Can you refract? Can you determine prismatic needs, direction and amount? Can you find and help retain talent? Can you negotiate your company’s health insurance plan to save money?….You have to seek out this knowledge, or luck into it. Then you seek a place to use all this acquired knowledge.

    Licensed state or not, believe me, you can earn 6 figures a year. I would recommend, today, learn ophthalmic administration. There’s serious money in the position. Get into multi-location management, ( preferably a small local chain ). It can be done, I lived it…

  20. #20
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter varmint's Avatar
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    I'm not involved with the board lobbying to keep the Az licenses for myself. I'm 72 yrs old and winding down my career, but I still feel passionate about opticians being required to have at least some training and education even if it's basic requirements. I left the field back in 2000 and became an Az licensed general contractor. I just think it's bad for the profession and the public to deregulate the board and licenses. I only went back to work part time for my mental well being after my adult daughter passed. Just today we had a pt who refracted at +24 diopters, if this was you or your family would you not want a qualified optician to do the fitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by optical24/7 View Post
    Licensure doesn’t dictate pay rate. #1, location, #2 demand for your particular skill set….

    There was a poster here years ago complaining about making 14 an hr in upstate NY. How nobody around payed more, he had a license and all that. Well the nobody’s he mentioned were the 3 other opticals in the area…No competition for Opticians in the area. I mentioned you may need to re-locate to an area that had more competition for talent…Oh, he couldn’t do that! His extended family all lived close!…Well there you go..Don’t complain if you’re not willing to relocate or work on the other side of town because it’s too far or a tough commute. Same goes with not trying to learn more, expand your portfolio, which leads to….

    Demand for skill set….Hey! You’re great at taking PD’s and you can sell ice cubes to Eskimo’s! But how good at Rx troubleshooting are you? Can you refract? Can you determine prismatic needs, direction and amount? Can you find and help retain talent? Can you negotiate your company’s health insurance plan to save money?….You have to seek out this knowledge, or luck into it. Then you seek a place to use all this acquired knowledge.

    Licensed state or not, believe me, you can earn 6 figures a year. I would recommend, today, learn ophthalmic administration. There’s serious money in the position. Get into multi-location management, ( preferably a small local chain ). It can be done, I lived it…

  21. #21
    Master OptiBoarder optical24/7's Avatar
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    I understand varmint. I retired in 2020 and don’t have a dog in the fight either, but I spent years trying to get licensure in Texas. I spent thousands of my own dollars and went to Austin for hundreds of hours working towards it. We got “voluntary licensure “ and had it for a number of years. Then we went to work on Mandatory licensure. I finally had a bill go all the way to legislative council only to be killed after a large chain started spreading money around. About a year later, the state dropped our voluntary licensure. When they got rid of it, we had about 42 Opticians registered with the state……42 out of well over 1000 ABO opticians in the state. Think about that…….A fraction of eligible Opticians would bother to register…

    Optician apathy has been around forever. The only Opticians that weren’t apathetic were the ones a hundred years ago that started Optometry training. Look where they are today and where we are currently. It surprises me not the small number of Opticians in Az that even give a rip about their own licensure. After my jaded experience trying to elevate our profession I have zero sympathy for 99% of Opticians plight, that’s about the percentage that don’t give a rip about their own profession. Oh, I feel sorry for the public. Folks with serious eye conditions have a heck of a time finding someone qualified to help them with their Rx needs when 99% of whom they seek out don’t have a clue.

    My previous post was more of how to elevate oneself in optics, licensure or not. And if you’re after money, you have to go where the money is and have marketable skills, and those marketable skills come from training, whether formal or self education.

  22. #22
    OptiWizard KrystleClear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by optical24/7 View Post
    Licensure doesn’t dictate pay rate. #1, location, #2 demand for your particular skill set….

    There was a poster here years ago complaining about making 14 an hr in upstate NY. How nobody around payed more, he had a license and all that. Well the nobody’s he mentioned were the 3 other opticals in the area…No competition for Opticians in the area. I mentioned you may need to re-locate to an area that had more competition for talent…Oh, he couldn’t do that! His extended family all lived close!…Well there you go..Don’t complain if you’re not willing to relocate or work on the other side of town because it’s too far or a tough commute. Same goes with not trying to learn more, expand your portfolio, which leads to….

    Demand for skill set….Hey! You’re great at taking PD’s and you can sell ice cubes to Eskimo’s! But how good at Rx troubleshooting are you? Can you refract? Can you determine prismatic needs, direction and amount? Can you find and help retain talent? Can you negotiate your company’s health insurance plan to save money?….You have to seek out this knowledge, or luck into it. Then you seek a place to use all this acquired knowledge.

    Licensed state or not, believe me, you can earn 6 figures a year. I would recommend, today, learn ophthalmic administration. There’s serious money in the position. Get into multi-location management, ( preferably a small local chain ). It can be done, I lived it…
    I don't think people should HAVE to relocate to earn a liveable wage in this field. Yeah, you won't get top dollar working for big box opticals because they just don't care. But independents don't either. My point is if were are expecting people to want to learn and be better, there needs to be a financial incentive. Are McDonalds employees spending time studying burger-ology and ways to improve customer service? No. So why bother getting your ABO in states like Pennsylvania, especially if you won't even receive a pay raise?

    We had a patient take their script to Costco the other week. The Costco optician told them that he can't fill their script because the prescriber "wrote it wrong." We're ophthalmology and our MD writes scripts in plus cyl. Would you trust that employee to make good choices about other things if they don't even understand how astigmatism works and how to do flat transposition? They could be telling people that having poly in their dress ophthalmic lenses makes them safety glasses. If they don't know about plus cyl, do they know that people with only one eye should be fit in poly or Trivex to protect the good eye? No one is probably going to die from their errors, but still. There is value in having some minimum competency requirement to do this job. People are going out in the world and driving and operating heavy machinery with the glasses we make for them. They need to RIGHT. But here we are with at least half of the people selling glasses that don't know anything other than how to upsell and get the most money from the patient. We should care more and strive to be experts in our field, but people aren't going to do that if the pay doesn't reflect that. People need glasses everywhere. You should have to leave your state to work in a field like opticianry. But bottom line profits reign supreme and so quality is inevitably going down.
    Krystle

  23. #23
    Master OptiBoarder optical24/7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrystleClear View Post
    I don't think people should HAVE to relocate to earn a liveable wage in this field. Yeah, you won't get top dollar working for big box opticals because they just don't care. But independents don't either. My point is if were are expecting people to want to learn and be better, there needs to be a financial incentive. Are McDonalds employees spending time studying burger-ology and ways to improve customer service? No. So why bother getting your ABO in states like Pennsylvania, especially if you won't even receive a pay raise?

    We had a patient take their script to Costco the other week. The Costco optician told them that he can't fill their script because the prescriber "wrote it wrong." We're ophthalmology and our MD writes scripts in plus cyl. Would you trust that employee to make good choices about other things if they don't even understand how astigmatism works and how to do flat transposition? They could be telling people that having poly in their dress ophthalmic lenses makes them safety glasses. If they don't know about plus cyl, do they know that people with only one eye should be fit in poly or Trivex to protect the good eye? No one is probably going to die from their errors, but still. There is value in having some minimum competency requirement to do this job. People are going out in the world and driving and operating heavy machinery with the glasses we make for them. They need to RIGHT. But here we are with at least half of the people selling glasses that don't know anything other than how to upsell and get the most money from the patient. We should care more and strive to be experts in our field, but people aren't going to do that if the pay doesn't reflect that. People need glasses everywhere. You should have to leave your state to work in a field like opticianry. But bottom line profits reign supreme and so quality is inevitably going down.
    The crook, Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. He replied, “Because that’s where the money’s at”. People have relocated for better jobs, better fields to plant in, and on and on for millenniums. It makes no difference what field you work in, if you are located somewhere with little need of your expertise, you’re simply not going to make as much as if you were in a location with greater need of what you do. Just like rural workers make less, doing the same thing a city slicker is doing. Supply and demand is king in a capitalist, market based economy.

    I have no doubt about what you said Costco told your patient, but normally, they don’t employ non-ABO Opticians, ( at least that’s what I was told by an employee). But the basic is just that…basic and relatively simple to pass. Which leads to the below.

    And I’ll tell you right now, seeking more knowledge will lead to better jobs. The ABO is a great start. It’s not just the initials after your name, but the knowledge you gain going trough the process of acquiring them. Basic ABO should also be considered just the start. Studying for the AC and then the M will give you way more knowledge than you realize, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. I thought I knew a cr@p load of optics, till I started studying for my AC, then researching and writing my Masters paper.

    Those initials didn’t get me a raise where I worked, but it helped me land a fantastic job. Knowledge is your club to beat the world with. If you’re using a matchstick instead of a baseball bat you’re not gonna do much world beating.

    And Krystle, this wasn’t directed at you personally, but for the masses out there that run across this thread…

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    Counterpoint: Welcome licensure removal. Why? Then all regulations that keep opticians from earning their true potential as individual entrepreneurs go away. If online business vendors can enjoy such advantages, why not opticians and stylists within a state.

    Discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    Licensure only ensures the public of an entry-level set of skills. At the same time, it has kept passionate and talented opticians from being their own boss and earning what they are truly worth—which is not happening for 99% when they are employed. If the public “suffers,” then the free market will redirect tgem to those who excel and satisfy.

    B
    Quote Originally Posted by optical24/7 View Post
    Licensure doesn’t dictate pay rate. #1, location, #2 demand for your particular skill set….

    There was a poster here years ago complaining about making 14 an hr in upstate NY. How nobody around payed more, he had a license and all that. Well the nobody’s he mentioned were the 3 other opticals in the area…No competition for Opticians in the area. I mentioned you may need to re-locate to an area that had more competition for talent…Oh, he couldn’t do that! His extended family all lived close!…Well there you go..Don’t complain if you’re not willing to relocate or work on the other side of town because it’s too far or a tough commute. Same goes with not trying to learn more, expand your portfolio, which leads to….

    Demand for skill set….Hey! You’re great at taking PD’s and you can sell ice cubes to Eskimo’s! But how good at Rx troubleshooting are you? Can you refract? Can you determine prismatic needs, direction and amount? Can you find and help retain talent? Can you negotiate your company’s health insurance plan to save money?….You have to seek out this knowledge, or luck into it. Then you seek a place to use all this acquired knowledge.

    Licensed state or not, believe me, you can earn 6 figures a year. I would recommend, today, learn ophthalmic administration. There’s serious money in the position. Get into multi-location management, ( preferably a small local chain ). It can be done, I lived it…
    Quote Originally Posted by optical24/7 View Post
    I understand varmint. I retired in 2020 and don’t have a dog in the fight either, but I spent years trying to get licensure in Texas. I spent thousands of my own dollars and went to Austin for hundreds of hours working towards it. We got “voluntary licensure “ and had it for a number of years. Then we went to work on Mandatory licensure. I finally had a bill go all the way to legislative council only to be killed after a large chain started spreading money around. About a year later, the state dropped our voluntary licensure. When they got rid of it, we had about 42 Opticians registered with the state……42 out of well over 1000 ABO opticians in the state. Think about that…….A fraction of eligible Opticians would bother to register…

    Optician apathy has been around forever. The only Opticians that weren’t apathetic were the ones a hundred years ago that started Optometry training. Look where they are today and where we are currently. It surprises me not the small number of Opticians in Az that even give a rip about their own licensure. After my jaded experience trying to elevate our profession I have zero sympathy for 99% of Opticians plight, that’s about the percentage that don’t give a rip about their own profession. Oh, I feel sorry for the public. Folks with serious eye conditions have a heck of a time finding someone qualified to help them with their Rx needs when 99% of whom they seek out don’t have a clue.

    My previous post was more of how to elevate oneself in optics, licensure or not. And if you’re after money, you have to go where the money is and have marketable skills, and those marketable skills come from training, whether formal or self education.
    I have to agree strongly with these fine folks.

    All licensing states should eliminate the need for an optician license/deregulate the trade. The cream will rise to the top.

    There was a time that I was GUNGHO on trying to elevate this trade--no longer. This field is filled with lazy apathetic dolts that could care less about bettering themselves and the trade. Let them suffer!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by varmint View Post
    Out of over 800 licensed opticians in Arizona only 15 were in attendance at the house meeting to oppose the deregulation of licensing!
    Apathy at it's best.

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