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If you go to the optician's office, you might think that everyone you encounter is an eye doctor - the person who checks you out, the person who interprets your eye exam, and the person who helps you find the best glasses for you. While it is true that some of the activities during your optical check-up are done by an eye doctor, a different professional handles the technical side of finding the best glasses for you. That person is none other than the optician!

The optician designs and releases eyesight corrective items, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses to clients. They assemble these eyeglasses, based on the prescription of the eye doctor and the aesthetic choices of the client. Opticians should be conscientious in their work. They need to be accurate because their work directly affects their clients.

Does that sound exciting? If you do not want to become a doctor but you're looking for a career in the healthcare sector, particularly in eye care, this might be a good choice!

What Does an Optician Do

Dispensing opticians help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. They also help customers decide which eyeglass frames or contact lenses to buy.

Learn more about what an Optician does

How To Become an Optician

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

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 2015, the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation accredited 22 programs in 14 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

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

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 be able to listen closely to what customers want. They must be able to 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 very 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 Career Paths

Average Salary for an Optician

Opticians in America make an average salary of $34,020 per year or $16 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $43,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $26,000 per year.
Average Optician Salary
$34,020 Yearly
$16.36 hourly
$26,000
10 %
$34,000
Median
$43,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Optician Education

Optician Majors

20.7 %

Optician Degrees

Bachelors

31.0 %

High School Diploma

26.7 %

Associate

26.1 %

Top Colleges for Opticians

1. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

2. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

5. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

6. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

7. Maine Maritime Academy

Castine, ME • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,478
Enrollment
979

8. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

9. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,309
Enrollment
9,142

10. Emory University

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,306
Enrollment
6,975

Top Skills For an Optician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 37.3% of opticians listed customer service on their resume, but soft skills such as business skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Customer Service, 37.3%
  • Patient Care, 10.7%
  • Insurance Companies, 8.8%
  • Eye Exams, 4.8%
  • Visual Acuity, 4.4%
  • Other Skills, 34.0%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Optician Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Optician templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Optician resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Optician Demographics

Optician Gender Distribution

Female
Female
78%
Male
Male
22%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among opticians, 77.8% of them are women, while 22.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among opticians is White, which makes up 67.8% of all opticians.

  • The most common foreign language among opticians is Spanish at 71.3%.

Online Courses For Optician That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Fiber Optic Communications
edX (Global)

This course will aim to introduce students to the fundamentals of fiber optic communications, which constitute the backbone of the internet. The course will start with a refresher on the operation of key components needed for an effective fiber optic communication system, and then show how these components interact at a system level. Finally, the course will conclude with outlook for future research in extending the capabilities of these networks to higher bandwidths and quantum-secured...

Electronic, Optical, and Magnetic Properties of Materials
edX (Global)

This course from MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering introduces the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, solid state physics, and electricity and magnetism. We use these principles to describe the origins of the electronic, optical, and magnetic properties of materials, and we discuss how these properties can be engineered to suit particular applications, including diodes, optical fibers, LEDs, and solar cells. In this course, you will find out how the speed of sound...

Capstone Exam – Materials for Electronic, Optical, and Magnetic Devices
edX (Global)

The MITx xMinor in Materials for Electronic, Optical, and Magnetic Devices is a certification program offered by MITx that is designed and administered by MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. This xMinor credential consists of three college-level undergraduate courses and a comprehensive, proctored final examination. Only people who have earned certificates of completion in 3.012x, 3.024x, and 3.15x are qualified to take this exam...

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Best States For an Optician

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an optician. The best states for people in this position are Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, and California. Opticians make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $48,436. Whereas in Alaska and Oregon, they would average $46,359 and $44,921, respectively. While opticians would only make an average of $42,654 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Optician Jobs:
14
Highest 10% Earn:
$51,000
Location Quotient:
2.82 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Hawaii

Total Optician Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$53,000
Location Quotient:
2.21 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. California

Total Optician Jobs:
456
Highest 10% Earn:
$53,000
Location Quotient:
2.62 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Opticians

How Do Optician Rate Their Jobs?

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What do you like the most about working as Optician?

You get to meet new people every day and help them see. Finding the best frame for them, depending on their prescription and their style. Show More

What do you NOT like?

You will find some people that are not easy to please when it comes to glasses and make you job harder than it has to be. Show More

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Top Optician Employers

Most Common Employers For Optician

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Sears Holdings$47,545$22.86185
2Costco Wholesale$46,017$22.1289
3JCPenney$44,182$21.24124
4Walmart$44,096$21.201,751
5Sam's Club$38,701$18.61283
6Shopko Optical$36,861$17.72223
7Crown Vision Center$35,995$17.3121
8Eyeglass World$35,899$17.2680
9Clarkson Eyecare Inc$35,876$17.2587
10Lenscrafters$35,862$17.24347

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