Career, Salary and Education Information
What They Do: Opticians help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists.
Work Environment: About half of opticians work in offices of optometrists or offices of physicians. Other opticians worked in stores that sell eyeglasses, contact lenses, visual aids, and other optical goods. These stores may be stand-alone businesses or parts of larger retail establishments, such as department stores.
How to Become One: Opticians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and some form of on-the-job training. Some opticians enter the occupation with an associate’s degree or a certificate from a community college or technical school. About half of the states require opticians to be licensed.
Salary: The median annual wage for opticians is $37,570.
Job Outlook: Employment of opticians is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of opticians with similar occupations.
Following is everything you need to know about a career as an optician with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:
Top 3 Optician Jobs
- Vision Associates Inc
- Chico, CA
As an Optician , you will need to be highly organized, self-motivated, detail oriented and customer service focused. In this position, you will be responsible for selling eyewear products and handling ...
Optician 2 (Family Eyecare Associates- Sparks, NV)
- VSP Ventures Optometric Solutions LLC
- Sparks, NV
General Summary The primary role of the Optician is helping customers find eyeglasses and contact lenses that are the best match for each patient while providing the highest levels of quality and ...
Optical Sales/ Optician
- Eyecare Associates of Nampa (Vision Source)
- Nampa, ID
In this Optician role, you will be an important part of an outstanding team, seamlessly taking appreciative customers through the procedure of selecting and ordering eyewear and accessories that best ...
What Opticians Do[About this section] [To Top]
Duties of Opticians
Opticians typically do the following:
- Receive customers' prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Measure customers' eyes and faces, such as the distance between their pupils
- Help customers choose eyeglass frames and lens treatments, such as eyewear for occupational use or sports, tints, or antireflective coatings, based on their vision needs and style preferences
- Create work orders for ophthalmic laboratory technicians, providing information about the lenses needed
- Adjust eyewear to ensure a good fit
- Repair or replace broken eyeglass frames
- Educate customers about eyewear—for example, show them how to care for their contact lenses
- Perform business tasks, such as maintaining sales records, keeping track of customers' prescriptions, and ordering and maintaining inventory
Opticians who work in small shops or prepare custom orders may cut lenses and insert them into frames—tasks usually performed by ophthalmic laboratory technicians.
Work Environment for Opticians[About this section] [To Top]
Opticians hold about 74,800 jobs. The largest employers of opticians are as follows:
|Offices of optometrists||40%|
|Health and personal care stores||24%|
|Offices of physicians||13%|
Optician Work Schedules
Opticians who work in large retail establishments, such as department stores, may have to work evenings and weekends. Most opticians work full time, although part-time opportunities also are available.
How to Become an Optician[About this section] [To Top]
Get the education you need: Find schools for Opticians near you!
Opticians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and receive some form of on-the-job training. Some opticians enter the occupation with an associate's degree or a certificate from a community college or technical school. About half of the states require opticians to be licensed.
Education and Training for Opticians
Opticians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn job skills through on-the-job training. Training includes technical instruction in which, for example, a new optician measures a customer's eyes or adjusts frames under the supervision of an experienced optician. Trainees also learn sales and office management practices. Some opticians complete an apprenticeship, which typically takes at least 2 years.
Other opticians complete a postsecondary education program at a community college or technical school. These programs award a 2-year associate's degree or a 1-year certificate. As of 2017, the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation accredited 19 programs in 11 states.
Education programs typically include both classroom instruction and clinical experience. Coursework includes classes in optics, eye physiology, math, and business management, among other topics. Students also do supervised clinical work that gives them hands-on experience working as opticians and learning optical math, optical physics, and the use of precision measuring instruments. Some programs have distance-learning options.
The National Academy of Opticianry offers the Ophthalmic Career Progression Program (OCPP), a program designed for individuals who are already working in the field. The OCPP offers opticians another way to prepare for licensure exams or certifications.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Opticians
About half of the states require opticians to be licensed. Licensure usually requires completing formal education through an approved program or completing an apprenticeship. In addition, opticians must pass one or more exams to be licensed. The opticianry licensing board in each state can supply information on licensing requirements.
Opticians may choose to become certified in eyeglass dispensing or contact lens dispensing or both. Certification requires passing exams from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Nearly all state licensing boards use the ABO and NCLE exams as the basis for state licensing. Some states also require opticians to pass state-specific practical exams.
In most states that require licensure, opticians must renew their license every 1 to 3 years and must complete continuing education requirements.
Important Qualities for Opticians
Business skills. Opticians are often responsible for the business aspects of running an optical store. They should be comfortable making decisions and have some knowledge of sales and inventory management.
Communication skills. Opticians must listen closely to what customers want. They must clearly explain options and instructions for care in ways that customers understand.
Customer-service skills. Because some opticians work in stores, they must answer questions and know about the products they sell. They interact with customers on a personal level, fitting eyeglasses or contact lenses. To succeed, they must be friendly, courteous, patient, and helpful to customers.
Decisionmaking skills. Opticians must determine what adjustments need to be made to eyeglasses and contact lenses. They must decide which materials and styles are most appropriate for each customer on the basis of their preferences and lifestyle.
Dexterity. Opticians frequently use special tools to make final adjustments and repairs to eyeglasses. They must have good hand‒eye coordination to do that work quickly and accurately.
Optician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median annual wage for opticians is $37,570. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,910, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,280.
The median annual wages for opticians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Offices of physicians||$44,400|
|Health and personal care stores||$39,180|
|Offices of optometrists||$36,810|
Opticians employed in retail settings may be required to work evenings and weekends. Most opticians work full time, although part-time opportunities also are available.
Job Outlook for Opticians[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of opticians is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 6,700 openings for opticians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Employment of Opticians
Greater demand for eye-care services is expected because of growth in the number of older people, who usually have more eye problems than younger people.
Increasing rates of chronic diseases also may increase demand for opticianry services because some diseases, such as diabetes, cause vision problems. In addition, opticians will be needed to fill prescriptions for corrective eyewear for people who have eye refraction problems such as myopia and astigmatism.
However, growing consumer interest in purchasing eyewear online may temper employment demand somewhat.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.