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Optometry License Requirements for California

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To become an optometrist in California, you must complete an accredited school of optometry program and pass both state and national exams.

After creating an online BreEZe account with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, you must submit your test results and school transcripts, and complete state and federal background checks. Applicants applying from out of state must also complete these steps and obtain a letter of verification from all states in which they have been a licensed optometrist.

As soon as all of your documents are received, your application will be processed, and you will receive a statement of licensure in your BreEZe account. In order to keep your license valid, continuing education hours must be completed and your license must be renewed every two years. When in doubt, visit the California State Board of Optometry’s webpage for all current licensing and renewal information.

Becoming an Optometrist in California

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To become an optometrist in California, a number of requirements must be met. You must start by obtaining the right education and then pass both state and federal exams. Once all license requirements have been met, you can apply for licensure with the California State Board of Optometry.

Prior to applying for a license, you must first do the following:

  • Graduate from an accredited school of optometry.
  • Pass the California Laws and Regulations Exam (CLRE).
  • Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam.

In order to qualify for licensure, you must pass Parts I, II, and III of the NBEO exam and the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease (TMOD) portion. After successfully passing all parts of the CLRE as well as the NBEO exam, you can submit an application to receive a license to practice optometry in California.

Application Requirements

The first step in submitting an application for a CA optometry license is to make an online account with the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) BreEZe Online Services. BreEZe is the online portal and home center for all licensees and applicants to submit applications, renew licenses, and update their information.

Your online BreEZe account is an easy and efficient way to stay current on licensure requirements, regulations, and continuing education information. You can communicate with the board through your account and vice versa.

Once you have made your BreEZe account, you must do the following to be eligible to apply for licensure:

  • Obtain your passing CLRE results.
  • Get transcripts from your school sent directly to optometry@dca.ca.gov
  • Complete a criminal history background check via a Live Scan form that is sent to you by email that you then bring to a Live Scan location. Your fingerprints are taken electronically and forwarded to the California Department of Justice and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • You must inform the NBEO to release your exam scores to the California State Board of Optometry.

Once the California State Board of Optometry receives all of the above items, your application will be processed. As of December 2020, optometrist application processing times are about six to eight weeks. Once approved, you will automatically receive a Statement of Licensure in your BreEZe account.

Most correspondence and license information are shared and maintained through your BreEZe account. If you do not receive requested information within seven days or so, the board recommends updating your contact information. Your license status is automatically updated, as the platform also serves as a way for consumers to verify doctors’ licenses and certifications.

Applying From Out of State

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If you were originally licensed as an optometrist in a state other than California, you must complete the same steps as anyone applying for an optometry license in California. You must pass the CLRE and NBEO exam, get a criminal background check, and have your school transcripts sent directly to the California State Board of Optometry.

In addition to these steps, out-of-state applicants must also obtain a Letter of Verification (LOV) from any and all states in which they have had an optometry license. You must request an LOV from the states’ respective optometry boards. They will then submit the LOV directly to optometry@dca.ca.gov or alternatively to this address: 2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 105, Sacramento, CA 95834.

As an out-of-state applicant, it is also important to keep your address current in your online BreEZe account. The board uses all your information in the account to stay in contact with you about your license application.

How to Maintain a Valid Optometry License in CA

Once you receive your license, it is important to keep it current so that you can continue practicing optometry. The law requires all licensed optometrists to complete continuing education hours to do so. In order to keep your license in “active” status, board-approved continuing education must be completed within each two-year renewal period.

Continuing education requirements vary depending upon the type of optometry license you have. Requirements are as follows:

Non-TPA licensed optometrists

40 hours

TPA-certified (therapeutic pharmaceutical agent) licensed optometrists

50 hours, 35 of which are on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ocular disease

TPG/TGL-certified licensed optometrists (who specialize in the treatment of glaucoma)

same as TPA-certified optometrists with the additional requirement that at least 10 of the 35 hours must be glaucoma-specific continuing education

If you are looking to become a licensed optometrist in California, the California State Board of Optometry provides all of the information and resources online that you need in order to obtain and maintain a valid optometry license in California.

References

  1. Continuing Education. California State Board of Optometry.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Optometry License Application. California State Board of Optometry.

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