National Avg. Salary

$36,820 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

23.7% More Growth Data →

Recommended Degree

Certification Programs & Degrees →

Attributes

  • Dependable Daily Workload
  • Don't Take Work Home
  • Good Commission Income
  • Working With People

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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.

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Job Description

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

While most opticians work full-time schedules, part-time schedules are available as well. Opticians often work into the early evening or on weekends in order to be available to customers outside of normal business hours.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for opticians is expected to grow significantly over the coming decade. The primary reason for this growth is due to the large, aging Baby Boomer generation. Because vision loss is more common as people age, opticians will be in high demand to meet the needs of an increasingly large population of seniors.

Typical Employers

Opticians commonly work either for optometrists in private eye doctor practices, or they may work for a chain vision provider like LensCrafters, Costso, Walmart, JCPenney, Sam’s Club, or Pearle Vision.

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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 Annual Salary

Low Range

$27,030

Average

$36,820

High Range

$55,530

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$13/hr

Average

$18/hr

High Range

$27/hr

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

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How To Become

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.


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Quick Summary

  • Optional

    It’s possible to become an optician with only a high school diploma, but doing so requires completion of a two-year apprenticeship under an experienced optician.

  • Recommended Min. Degree

    Certification

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Optician. a Certification is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Optician

  • 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

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Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

75,200

2024 Est. Jobs

93,000

Job Growth Rate

23.7%

Est. New Jobs

17,800

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

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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%

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