Frequently Asked Questions - Dispensing Optician

I already passed the ABO and NCLE exams. Will I need to take these exams again? Do I still need to apply for a license if I passed the ABO and NCLE exams on or after June 1, 2015?

Yes. Changes to the exams are for the exams only and don't affect the licensing requirements under WAC 246-824-040. There are no changes to the licensing requirements. To be eligible for licensure, applicants must:

  1. Be eighteen years or more of age;
  2. Graduate from an accredited high school or receive a general equivalency degree;
  3. Complete one of the following:
    1. At least six thousand hours of certified apprenticeship training that must be completed in no less than three years as required under chapter 18.34 RCW; or
    2. An accredited opticianry course as described in WAC 246-824-050; or
    3. Been principally engaged in practicing as a dispensing optician not in the state of Washington for five years;
  4. Successfully pass one of the following examinations:
    1. The state examination offered on or before August 31, 2017;
    2. On or after June 1, 2015, the basic competency examination, basic contact lens examination, and the practical examinations from ABO-NCLE. This requirement can also be met by successfully passing the ABO-NCLE advanced competency examination, advanced contact lens examination, and the practical examinations on or after June 1, 2015; and
  5. Meet any other requirements in law.
How do I register to take the ABO and NCLE exams?

Candidates will need to register for the exams directly through the ABO and NCLE. ABO and NCLE exam fees per candidate are $225 per exam for each of the basic exams, and $75 each per exam for the practical exams. The ABO-NCLE organization offers a 30 percent discount, bringing the total cost down from $600 to $420 per test taker. In order to take advantage of this discount the exam candidate must pay for all four exams at one time, and must successfully complete the exams within a two-year period. There is no discount on the reexamination fee. Registration information is online.

You may reach them by phone at 1-800-296-1379.

How many hours of continuing education do I need to renew my license?

A licensed dispensing optician must complete and document thirty hours of continuing education every three years and comply with WAC 246-824-075.

Do I need to send copies of my continuing education certificates during my renewal period?

No. You must sign an affidavit of compliance every three years. You'll find the affidavit on your annual renewal notice. You must renew your license annually.

Where can I obtain free courses in Health Equity Continuing education?

Free courses and information pertaining to health equity continuing education is on the Department of Health Health Equity Continuing Education webpage

When will I be audited for continuing education?

Continuing education audits are random and fall in the month you renew your license. If you receive an audit letter, respond with appropriate copies of your continuing education documentation.

How do I apply for my license?

The application is available on our licensing information webpage.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Please contact the Customer Service Center at 360-236-4700 or send them an email (