Home » Specialties » Optician

How to Become an Optician

woman eye doctor giving patient exam
Home » Specialties » Optician

Optician At a Glance

  • What you’ll do: As an optician—or dispensing optician—you’ll fill eye wear prescriptions written by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. You’ll write work orders to help ophthalmic lab technicians correctly fill prescriptions, and help patients select the frames and lens styles that best suit their needs and facial features.
  • Where you’ll work: Opticians usually work in a medical office or in a retail environment. Both full- and part-time positions are generally available.
  • Degree you’ll need: High school diploma or GED and completion of a 1- to 2-year certificate, diploma or associate degree program
  • Median annual salary: $38,530

Job Description

Your daily duties as an optician will likely include the following:

  • Help clients select the type of glasses most appropriate for their lifestyle
  • Take clients’ facial measurements
  • Customize glasses to suit client’s faces by making adjustments to the frames
  • Keep customer records up-to-date
  • Work with insurance companies to maximize your clients’ benefits
  • Track sales and inventory

Search Optician Certification Training Programs

Get information on Optician Certification Training programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

The Difference Between an Optician, Optometrist, and Ophthalmologist

  • Optician: Works with optometrists and ophthalmologists by filling their prescriptions and dispensing eyewear.
  • Optometrist: Although not a medical doctor, an optometrist has a post-bachelor’s degree in optometry and is licensed to practice. In addition to performing eye exams and prescribing glasses and contact lenses, in some states optometrists are also licensed to prescribe drugs for eye problems and perform eye surgeries, such as foreign-body removal.
  • Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor licensed to practice medicine and perform eye surgery. Ophthalmologists treat and diagnose eye diseases, prescribe medication and also fit patients with glasses and contact lenses.

Certification

Regulations vary from state to state, however certification is highly recommended because most employers require it. The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) offer national certification and testing for opticians. Opticians must re-certify every 3 years.

Median Annual Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook’s 2020 data reports the median annual salary for opticians as $38,530. Wages vary according to your education, experience, time on the job, and where you live.

Take a look at the median annual wage for your state.

Opticians, Dispensing

National data

Median Salary: $37,570

Projected job growth: 6.2%

10th Percentile: $28,910

25th Percentile: $30,310

75th Percentile: $47,660

90th Percentile: $60,280

Projected job growth: 6.2%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $58,500 $36,270 $73,380
Alabama $29,460 $26,730 $45,950
Arkansas $36,730 $28,230 $58,180
Arizona $38,330 $29,650 $58,640
California $47,020 $30,150 $73,700
Colorado $38,500 $29,690 $59,470
Connecticut $64,320 $36,820 $88,970
District of Columbia $36,700 $31,200 $59,110
Delaware $38,240 $23,310 $58,640
Florida $45,850 $24,480 $60,320
Georgia $41,560 $29,150 $59,470
Hawaii $58,500 $22,200 $92,410
Iowa $36,360 $28,550 $46,650
Idaho $30,720 $27,320 $47,630
Illinois $36,590 $28,820 $47,240
Indiana $33,450 $28,460 $46,420
Kansas $34,340 $26,980 $46,420
Kentucky $36,970 $23,430 $58,180
Louisiana $29,650 $22,960 $45,850
Massachusetts $57,340 $37,430 $74,270
Maryland $38,280 $29,110 $48,020
Maine $37,710 $29,650 $56,490
Michigan $36,950 $29,000 $47,170
Minnesota $44,430 $30,630 $50,950
Missouri $31,440 $28,430 $47,440
Mississippi $29,460 $28,300 $46,170
Montana $37,510 $29,280 $57,630
North Carolina $37,860 $28,940 $61,220
North Dakota $37,130 $28,830 $47,210
Nebraska $30,500 $25,100 $45,810
New Hampshire $38,150 $29,780 $59,390
New Jersey $61,380 $46,700 $75,200
New Mexico $37,180 $28,820 $47,120
Nevada $36,860 $28,560 $73,700
New York $58,780 $37,510 $74,270
Ohio $45,850 $29,180 $58,180
Oklahoma $29,960 $23,450 $46,170
Oregon $38,810 $29,650 $60,170
Pennsylvania $36,060 $28,620 $47,150
Rhode Island $46,210 $29,060 $58,640
South Carolina $43,000 $28,950 $60,670
South Dakota $30,950 $29,010 $46,170
Tennessee $37,510 $28,750 $60,160
Texas $34,180 $28,510 $45,420
Utah $29,610 $21,550 $47,460
Virginia $47,440 $30,970 $60,520
Vermont $47,000 $36,810 $77,180
Washington $46,750 $32,150 $61,000
Wisconsin $37,510 $29,270 $49,010
West Virginia $34,580 $28,090 $37,510
Wyoming $29,650 $29,000 $46,210

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.