Why We Love It
$36,820Potential Avg. Salary
23.7%Job Growth Rate
Growing DemandJob Outlook
Dependable Daily WorkloadCareer Attribute
Opticians work with customers with vision problems to help customers choose and purchase glasses, contact lenses, and other vision correction products. They perform measurements to ensure glasses fit correctly, teach customers how to use and take care of contacts, and help with filing insurance claims.
What is an Optician?
The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in optician roles:
- Assist customers with finding vision correction products that meet style and preference needs
- Measure customer faces and the distance between pupils to order glasses that fit properly
- Explain the features and care of different types of contact lenses to customers
- Teach customers how to care for vision correction products, and how to wear contact lenses
- Assist customers with filing insurance claims to cover vision correction products
A Day in the Life
Opticians specialize in assisting customers with finding the right vision correction product for their needs and style preferences. After a patient receives a prescription from an optometrist, they visit the optician to find and order a vision correction product. The optician discusses the needs and style preferences with the customer to make recommendations for what the customer might prefer. This may include different types of contact lenses, or different styles of frames or lenses for glasses.
After a customer chooses his/her preferred vision correction product, the optician conducts a series of tasks in order to write the work order for the laboratory. If the customer ordered glasses, the optician must measure the customer’s face and the distance between his/her pupils. Opticians must also discuss different lens options with the patient, discussing if add-ons like featherweight lenses, transitions, glare-proof lenses, or scratch-proof lenses are desired. With all of these decisions made, the optician prepares the order for the optometry lab.
The optician also helps the patient will billing and filing insurance claims. The optician works with the insurance company to determine what hardware is covered in order to charge the patient the correct amount at the end of the transaction. Once the glasses or contacts are received from the lab, the optician helps prepare the patient and hardware for wear. He/she adjusts glasses to fit without tilting on the customer’s face, and teaches patients how to insert and clean contact lenses.
Typical Work Schedule
Opticians’ working schedules will vary depending on the workplace. Some opticians can work part-time. However, most opticians work full-time 40 hours per week schedule. They normally work from 9 am – 6 daily including working on weekends. Some large retail stores will require that the employees work in shifts that cover the opening hours for the store. Other workplaces include working as part of a group optometry or medical practice work with optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide eye-related medical care to patients. In this case, you will be required to follow the same working schedules of the medical institution you work in.
Projected Job Growth
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of opticians is expected to increase by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is about as fast as the average for other occupations. As the population grows older, the incidence of eye related problems increase. It is anticipated that this will lead to a greater demand for various eye care services and provide more opportunities for opticians. In addition, the increasing rates of chronic diseases in the US such as diabetes may also increase the demand for opticians because some of these chronic diseases often lead to vision problems. In Addition, more opticians will be required to help many clients with conditions that affected their eyesight to fill prescriptions for corrective eyewear. However, the employment of opticians can also be decreased by the increase in the availability of corrective eye surgery as LASIK. If you plan to work in this field in the US, you should prepare yourself by having an associate degree from an accredited program, the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) certifications.
Opticians have multiple employers available ranging from different optometrists’ offices and care centers. Some opticians prefer to work privately whether individually or with a partner, by establishing their own offices. Other available employers include various health and personal care centers providing services to patients in collaboration with other medical teams.
How To Become an Optician
There are a couple different paths to consider to become an optician. The first requires only a high school diploma. With a high school diploma, it’s possible to become trained on the job to work as an optician through an apprenticeship. As an apprentice, you’ll work under an experienced optician, assisting with customers and orders. Apprenticeship programs generally last two years, and after completing the apprenticeship, you’ll have the experience necessary to pursue licensure as an independent optician.
However, finding an apprenticeship with no professional experience can be difficult, so some aspiring opticians opt to make themselves more competitive for open roles by completing a certificate or associate’s degree in opticianry. These programs focus on teaching students the same skills they would learn in an apprenticeship program, and can eliminate the need to find an apprenticeship. With a certificate or degree and the proper licensure, you should be able to find work as an optician.
All states require opticians to be licensed in order to work as independent opticians in their field. To become licensed, you’ll need to either complete an apprenticeship or a certificate/degree program. Then you’ll need to pass written examinations administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). However, the licensing requirements vary by state, so before beginning your training or education, it’s good to check state-specific licensing requirements.
Optician Salary Data
We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.
National Anual Salary
National Hourly Wage
How do Optician salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Optician's can make an average annual salary of $36,820, or $18 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $27,030 or $13 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.
Salary Rankings And Facts
#591 Nationally for All Careers
Highest Education Among Opticians
- 0.9% Doctorate
- 0.9% Masters
- 12.3% Bachelors
- 19.6% Associates
- 36.5% College
- 27.9% High School
- 1.9% Less than High School
Job Growth Projections and Forecast
2014 Total Jobs75,200
2024 Est. Jobs93,000
Job Growth Rate23.7%
Est. New Jobs17,800
How does Optician job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 17,800 jobs for a total of 93,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 23.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.
Growth Rankings And Facts
#32 Nationally for All Careers
What Companies Employ The Most Opticians
|Industry||Current Jobs||New Jobs Needed||% Increase|
|Offices of optometrists||28,200||8,900||9%|
|Other general merchandise stores||10,100||3,100||3%|
|Offices of physicians||7,300||1,600||2%|