Vol. 35 Iss. 12 - February 04, 2019

Chapter 30
Fast-Track Regulation

Title of Regulation: 18VAC80-30. Opticians Regulations (amending 18VAC80-30-20).

Statutory Authority: § 54.1-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Public Hearing Information: No public hearings are scheduled.

Public Comment Deadline: March 6, 2019.

Effective Date: April 1, 2019.

Agency Contact: Stephen Kirschner, Regulatory Operations Administrator, Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400, Richmond, VA 23233, telephone (804) 367-8590, FAX (866) 245-9693, or email

Basis: Section 54.1-201 of the Code of Virginia enumerates board authority to promulgate regulations and to establish entry qualifications for licensure.

Purpose: The proposed amendment to the regulations is necessary to reduce the length of optician apprenticeship, which will decrease entry barriers to the profession while maintaining public protection. Attendant revisions to the apprenticeship work processes and standards through Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) training materials and sponsorship requirements will better reflect current industry practices while maintaining a focus on developing minimum competency. However, because the board's regulations currently require the apprenticeship length be three years, this action is necessary in order to implement the two-year, 4000-hour program recommendation.

Rationale for Using Fast-Track Rulemaking Process: The proposed regulatory change is best suited for the fast-track rulemaking process for several reasons. First, the amendment is simple, easy to understand, and affects just one specific regulatory requirement: the length of the optician registered apprenticeship.

Second, the proposed change has been under discussion for more than four years in order to build consensus. The board's ad hoc committee has held over a dozen public meetings and incorporated industry stakeholders in the proposal's development, including participants from the education sector and trade associations.

Finally, the board worked with DOLI in developing the revisions, and DOLI has confirmed it is prepared to initiate the revised apprenticeship once the regulation change becomes effective. Reducing the optician apprenticeship from three years to two years has been supported by all stakeholders who participated in the process and imposes a less burdensome option for entry into the profession. For these reasons, the board expects this rulemaking to be noncontroversial.

Substance: In 18VAC80-30-20, the apprenticeship option (as an alternative to completing opticianry school) is reduced from a three-year program to a two-year program. This action also makes two technical corrections: one to update the name of the DOLI apprenticeship division, and the other in a reference to the board.

Issues: The primary advantage to the public (applicants, licensees, and citizens) for implementing this proposed change is that updating the apprenticeship content will more accurately reflect industry practices while still maintaining a focus on developing minimum competency, thus better ensuring the protection of the public's health, safety, and welfare. The regulatory revision will reduce the length of the apprenticeship by one year and 2,000 hours, allowing individuals to gain entry into the profession substantially faster. In some cases, it will make the apprenticeship a more appealing option for those seeking to enter the profession. Businesses will benefit from shorter training periods for prospective employees and a potentially larger pool of employees. There are no disadvantages to the public. Licensure is required by the Code of Virginia, and the proposed changes only set forth the qualifications for obtaining the license.

The primary advantage to the agency and Commonwealth is positive economic impact from the reduction of entry requirements for opticians, promoting Virginia's low regulatory burden, and a more positive business climate. Additionally, these proposed changes will update the content of the apprenticeship so that it better reflects current industry practices and needs. There are no identified disadvantages to the Commonwealth.

Department of Planning and Budget's Economic Impact Analysis:

Summary of the Proposed Amendments to Regulation. The Board for Hearing Aid Specialists and Opticians (Board) proposes to amend the optician apprenticeship from a three-year (6000-hour) program to a two-year (4000-hour) program.

Result of Analysis. The benefits likely exceed the costs for all proposed changes.

Estimated Economic Impact. The recommended reduction is based on a review by the Board's Ad Hoc Committee on Optician Apprenticeship, formed in 2014 to review the apprenticeship program and suggest revisions to reflect current training and job requirements, industry practices, and minimum competencies to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare. The length of the optician apprenticeship, administered under the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, is specified in the Board's regulations.

The proposed amendment would enable individuals who seek to become licensed via the apprenticeship route to start working independently one year earlier and earn greater income sooner. Optician apprentices are paid but likely considerably less than independent licensed opticians. Virginia (and federal) law require that apprentices are paid at least minimum wage with pay increases at least once per year. Opticians in Virginia earn on average $21.60 per hour.1 Since the two-year apprenticeship is considered sufficient to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare, and the proposal is financially and professionally beneficial for the affected apprentices, the proposed amendment would produce a net benefit.

Businesses and Entities Affected. The proposed amendment affects individuals interested in obtaining an optician license and optician businesses that sponsor apprentices. As of August 1, 2018, the Board licensed 1,897 opticians. Of those, 85% (1,612) were apprenticeship completers. The Board licenses approximately 55 individuals by exam annually. Most optician businesses would be considered small businesses.

Localities Particularly Affected. The proposed amendment does not disproportionately affect particular localities.

Projected Impact on Employment. By reducing the time it takes to become a licensed optician through the apprenticeship route by one year, more individuals may be encouraged to seek licensure and employment as opticians.

Effects on the Use and Value of Private Property. As described above, the proposed amendment may result in an increase in the supply of licensed opticians and optician apprentices. This would make it less costly for firms that offer optician services to hire and employ such professionals. Consequently, the net value of such firms may increase.

Real Estate Development Costs. The proposed amendment does not affect real estate development costs.

Small Businesses:

Definition. Pursuant to § 2.2-4007.04 of the Code of Virginia, small business is defined as "a business entity, including its affiliates, that (i) is independently owned and operated and (ii) employs fewer than 500 full-time employees or has gross annual sales of less than $6 million."

Costs and Other Effects. By reducing the time it takes to become a licensed optician through the apprenticeship route by one year, more individuals may be encouraged to seek licensure and employment as opticians. Having a potential greater supply of optician apprentices and licensed opticians may make it less costly for small firms that offer optician services to hire and employ such professionals.

Alternative Method that Minimizes Adverse Impact. The proposed amendment does not adversely affect small businesses.

Adverse Impacts:

Businesses. The proposed amendment does not adversely affect businesses.

Localities. The proposed amendment does not adversely affect localities.

Other Entities. The proposed amendment does not adversely affect other entities.


1Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Agency's Response to Economic Impact Analysis: The agency concurs with the economic impact analysis.


The amendment reduces the optician apprenticeship to a two-year (4,000-hour) program.

Part II
Entry Requirements

18VAC80-30-20. Qualifications of applicant.

An applicant for a license shall furnish satisfactory evidence on an application provided by the board establishing that:

1. The applicant is at least 18 years of age unless emancipated under the provisions of § 16.1-333 of the Code of Virginia;

2. The applicant is a graduate of an accredited high school, or has completed the equivalent of grammar school and a four-year high school course, or is a holder of a certificate of general educational development;

3. The applicant is in good standing as a licensed optician in every jurisdiction where licensed;

4. The applicant has not been convicted in any jurisdiction of a misdemeanor or felony involving sexual offense, drug distribution or physical injury, or any felony that directly relates to the profession of opticianry. The board shall have the authority to determine, based upon all the information available, including the applicant's record of prior convictions, if the applicant is unfit or unsuited to engage in the profession of opticianry. Any plea of nolo contendere shall be considered a conviction for the purposes of this subdivision. The licensee shall provide a certified copy of a final order, decree, or case decision by a court or regulatory agency with the lawful authority to issue such order, decree, or case decision, and such copy shall be admissible as prima facie evidence of such conviction. This record shall be forwarded by the licensee to the board within 10 days after all appeal rights have expired;

5. The applicant has successfully completed one of the following education requirements:

a. A board-approved two-year course in a school of opticianry, including the study of topics essential to qualify for practicing as an optician; or

b. A three-year two-year apprenticeship with a minimum of one school year of related instruction or home study while registered in the apprenticeship program in accordance with the standards established by the state Department of Labor and Industry, Division of Registered Apprenticeship, Training and approved by the Board for Opticians board;

6. The applicant has disclosed his current mailing address;

7. The nonresident applicant for a license has filed and maintained with the department an irrevocable consent for the director of the department to serve as service agent for all actions filed in any court in the Commonwealth; and

8. The applicant shall certify, as part of the application, that the applicant has read and understands Chapter 15 (§ 54.1-1500 et seq.) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia and the regulations of the board.

VA.R. Doc. No. R19-5619; Filed January 15, 2019, 2:48 p.m.