Optometry License for Optometrists
In order to legally work in any state in the United States, optometrists must have graduated from an accredited optometry school and obtain a license granted by the state’s regulatory board of optometry. To help state boards of optometry out in this process, the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) provides resources on continuing education, educational services, and streamlining of license renewals. Optometry licenses can be obtained in two ways; through an initial application by examination or through reciprocity or endorsement, which means endorsement from another state in which the applicant already has a license. States also require a license or certification for Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents (TPAs) in order to administer, prescribe, and dispense medication and Diagnostic Pharmaceutical Agents (DPAs) to obtain and use certain diagnostic drugs. Some states also require certification in the treatment of Glaucoma. Obtaining a license has varying requirements and fees from state to state, but there are some common elements present in most states.
The National Board of Examiners in Optometry examination is one of the major licensing requirements that all states have for optometrists. All 50 states and Puerto Rico require the passing of Part I and II of the examination, and the majority of states also require Part III. Some state regulatory boards require a score of at least 75 on certain parts of the examination. NBEO’s Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease (TMOD) examination along with classroom and clinical hours may also be required to obtain TPA and DPA certifications. The states also have their own examinations: written, practical, pharmacology, and jurisprudence. Internships may also be required as part of the licensing process.
Other documentations for state optometrist licenses include official academic transcripts from high school, undergraduate work, and an optometry school. For license through reciprocity, an affidavit or certificate of verification from the board of optometry where the license was held also needs to be obtained. A CPR card, fingerprint cards, and letters of recommendation may also be required.
Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for optometrist license fees depending on the state. Some states charge an application fee, TPA certification fee, and other additional fees as well. Some states charge for examination fees when required and can be very costly. North Carolina charges around $800 for their practical exam. States generally have laws setting a maximum amount that can be charged for licensing and are always changing fees to meet the board’s needs.
Each state has its own term for license renewals, ranging from 1 year to 3 years, and has standards for renewals regarding continuing education credits. All states require some type of continuing education for optometristss and can range from 20 to 60 credit hours for the length of the license or for a specified term. Continuing education courses must be approved by the specific state and each state has unique standards for types of courses that are required. The page optometry continuing education provides more detail on the issue.
Council on Endorsed Licensure Mobility for Optometrists (CELMO)
The Council on Endorsed Licensure Mobility for Optometrists, or CELMO, is a subcommittee set up by the ARBO to try and adopt a system much like Canada’s COAS, that will lessen the burden on both applicants and states during the approval of optometrist licenses. Each state has its own rules and some do not regard CELMO as a determining factor in granting a license, but the program is still a step towards mobility in licensing of optometrists. The CELMO program has strict guidelines on continuing education, much like the COPE system that most states already consider adequate for continuing education. The importance of CELMO is likely to increase as state optometry boards look for ways to cut back on expenses of checking individual applicants on some requirements and instead, rely on this system.
State License Requirement List
Here is a list of some of the state requirements. Some of these requirements may have changed and may have not been updated on this page, so please check the states website for accurate information. Official transcripts, a criminal background check, a current photo, CPR certification, letters of recommendation, and a photocopy of optometry diploma are generally required by all state boards. Most states also have TPA and DPA certification or license requirements which are not mentioned here.
State Board of Optometry List:
District of Columbia