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Certification Process

How Do I Become Board Certified?

Demonstrate your competence and commitment to lifelong learning through the American Board of Optometry’s Board Certification and Maintenance of Certification program. Our process is rigorous but rewarding and provides a credential that is recognized as the gold standard in health care.

Step 1

  • Complete online application and submit $300 application fee.
  • The following information will be required:
    • Name of ACOE accredited school or college of optometry from which you graduated.
    • License information from an active license to practice therapeutic optometry in a state, District of Columbia, U.S. commonwealth or territory.
    • Authorization to search the National Practitioner Data Bank.
  • Attest to the information provided and acknowledge that if Board Certification is earned, it must be kept current through participation in Maintenance of Certification.

Step 2

  • The American Board of Optometry will verify all information provided during the application process. This generally takes less than 30 days.
  • Upon successful verification of all information, applicant is granted Active Candidate status.
  • Active Candidate status is granted for three years. If requirements have not been met within 3 years to sit for the Board Certification exam, a new application will be required.

Step 3

  • Eligibility to sit for the exam requires the Active Candidate to attain 150 points under the “residency or equivalent” rule. If points are not obtained through an ACOE accredited residency then Active Candidate must submit proof of three years of active clinical practice.
  • Points may be obtained through the following activities:

ACOE-Accredited Residency

      • 150 points if completed within three years
      • 100 points if completed within 3 – 10 years
      • 50 points if completed 10 or more years ago

Active Clinical Practice

      • 5 points for each year of practice up to 50 points or 10 years

Fellowship in FAAO, COVD, NORA, CLSA, SLS or Other as Approved by ABO

      • 50 points if completed within the past 10 years
      • Status must be active and current

Diplomate of a Section of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO)

      • 50 points if completed within the past 10 years
      • Status must be active and current

Graduate Degree

      • 50 points if completed within the past 10 years

Continuing and Other Education

      • Up to 150 points
      • Education expires three years from date of completion. Once post-graduate requirements are submitted, education is locked in for two testing periods.
      • Education is separated into two categories. At least 50 percent of education points (up to 150) must come from Category 1 as outlined in the point system overview. A maximum of 50 percent of education points (up to 75) may come from Category 2 as outlined in the point system overview.

View and Print the Point System Overview >

Step 4

  • Upon submission and approval of post-graduate requirements, Active Candidates may pay the exam fee and schedule the Board Certification exam.
  • The Board Certification exam is a computer-based patient assessment and management test emphasizing clinical knowledge and skills, not didactic details.
  • Examination is held twice annually in January and July at Prometric Testing Centers worldwide.
  • Active Candidates must take the examination within 12 months following exam registration. A Candidate who does not take the exam within those 12 months must resubmit post-graduate requirements.
  • Candidates are notified of exam pass or fail status on their Learning Plan page and by mail, within 60 days following the exam. Results cannot be given over the phone or by e-mail.
  • Upon Candidate’s successful completion of the Board Certification Examination, the American Board of Optometry confers Board Certified Diplomate status. Board Certification must be kept current through the American Board of Optometry Maintenance of Certification program known as CAP. Learn More About CAP >
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By going through the voluntary process of becoming board certified, our diplomates demonstrate competence beyond entry level.

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Become a Candidate

Are you ready to take the next step to becoming a top professional in your field? View our Exam Guide linked below, and follow the steps to register as an active candidate to begin your journey towards certification.

Optometry Candidate