By Rebecca Soto, ABOC/NCLEC

Lifelong learning, what does that mean? It can mean a variety of things, depending on the professional.

Continuing education is a requirement for many of us, but it also allows us as professionals to expand our knowledge and contribute to the growth of opticianry. As an educator, it is important to encourage students to continue lifelong learning by attending quality continuing education. It can allow a professional to improve himself or herself by increasing knowledge. It can also help advance a career and stay ahead of the competition.

As a professional, it important to gain a competitive edge in the industry. In addition, professional personal development and desire for continuous improvement will show your employer you are eager to learn, motivated, and invested in your career. As the world of opticianry changes, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to stand out from other opticians. Keeping up to date with changes and sharpening skills not used as frequently in the everyday life of an optician can make you a more marketable candidate for employment.

A simple way to keep up to date with the field is to read professional journals, attend industry events such as Vision Expo, and attend workshops and conferences. Industry events can be the most self-motivating experiences. I attend conferences often and while I am there, I am reminded of why I love opticianry. In addition, when I leave, I love sharing the experience with students and colleagues.

Continuing education fosters an optician’s commitment to lifelong learning and skill development. As opticians, we want to have a healthy outlook on continuing education. We want to enhance our skills, gain confidence, and promote collaboration in the field. Continuing education is a wonderful opportunity, but make sure to select courses that interest you and match your level of knowledge and training.

The American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners offer various course levels. Level I is designed for professionals with little or no prior knowledge of the material being presented. Level II is designed for professionals with prior knowledge or experience. Level III is designed for professionals with the background and experience to appreciate and understand advanced course material. In addition, technical and general knowledge courses are available. Technical courses are those that relate directly to skills or knowledge that are optical in nature, and appear in the ABO Job Analysis or NCLE Job Analysis. General Knowledge courses are those that will enhance the abilities of ophthalmic professionals, but are usually not optical in nature. The three levels and two classifications for courses make it easy to match your level of knowledge and training with your course selection.

Continuing education is designed to keep you up to date as a professional and to expand your knowledge in the field. As a professional, take time to select the right courses to fit your needs. I encourage all professionals to continue their education by attending quality continuing education sessions, not just to fulfill the requirement set by your individual state, but also to enhance your knowledge and training in the profession of opticianry. Check out for a great selection of online courses!