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Opticians picture    Opticians image

Opticians

Opticians, also known as dispensing opticians or prescription opticians, design, fit and dispense lenses and contact lenses to improve their clients' vision. They use prescriptions written by ophthalmologists and optometrists to determine the specifications of lenses. Some dispensing opticians that have received additional training fit artificial eyes or cosmetic shells to cover blemished eyes.

Based on factors including the prescription, the clients' occupation, facial features and habits they recommend lenses, lens coatings and eyeglass frames to their clients. Dispensing opticians also ensure that eyeglasses properly fit their customers.

They determine exactly where the lenses should be placed by measuring the client's face. Dispensing opticians use complex diagnostic instruments when fitting new eyeglasses. They provide the optical laboratory with vital information including size, shape, color and prescription of the lenses.

After receiving the eyeglasses the prescription optician measures and adjusts the glasses for the client until the glasses fit properly. They also provide instructions regarding adapting, wearing and caring for glasses. They also fix and refit broken frames.

Dispensing opticians that have gained additional training fit clients for contact lenses. They choose the appropriate type of contact lens material and develop work orders for the laboratory. They also provide instructions regarding the proper technique for inserting, removing and caring for contact lenses.

Responsibilities

  • Take measurements of clients' eyes area
  • Determine client's current lens prescription
  • Ensure finished lenses have been grounded to specifications
  • Develop work orders and instructions for fabricating eyeglasses and grinding
  • Help clients choose frames
  • Make recommendations for specific lenses, lens coatings and frames
  • Evaluate clients' prescription in conjunction with clients' avocational and vocational visual requirements
  • Adjust eyeglasses to fit clients
  • Repair damaged frames

Job Characteristics

Dispensing opticians usually work in optical stores, medical offices, department stores and club stores. Most dispensing opticians work standard business hours. Those working in retail stores may work during the evenings and weekends. Since opticians interface with the public they should have good communications skills. They should also have good manual dexterity and be able to perform precision work.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted employment for opticians to rise by 12 percent during the 2008 to 2018 timeframe. Demand for these workers will expand due to the growth of the middle aged and older population. Middle aged is often the time when people need corrective lenses for the first time. However, the increasing use of laser surgery to correct vision problems may somewhat tone down the need for optician services.

Employment for opticians at optometrist's offices is projected to be particularly good. Job opportunities at general merchandise stores are also projected to be good. Those that have completed a formal opticianry program and have certification may have the best job opportunities. A thorough knowledge of the newest technology should be beneficial for opticians looking for employment.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Most opticians have taken some college classes or have earned a degree. Training is provided by community colleges and some colleges and universities. Beneficial classes include basic anatomy, physics, trigonometry and algebra. Knowledge about computers is also beneficial. The Commission on Opticianry Accreditation has provided accreditation to a number of associate degree programs. Graduating from an accredited program provides a nationally recognized credential.

Structured apprenticeship programs for opticians are more commonly available in states where licensing is not mandatory. These programs are typically provided by large employers. Apprentices work with patients to fit eyeglasses and contact lenses under the supervision of opticians, ophthalmologists or optometrists.

Numerous states require dispensing opticians to be licensed. The requirements for a license vary by state. In some states, candidates must complete postsecondary training or work as an apprentice for two to four years in order to qualify to take certification examinations. In some states, graduates of opticianry programs are allowed to take the licensure exam immediately after they graduate; whereas other states require a few months to a year of experience. License renewal typically requires continuing education.

Opticians can apply for certification of their skills to the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners. Certification signals a certain level of expertise to employers and customers.

Resources

Major Employers

The top employers are optometrist offices, optical goods stores, health and personal care stores, department stores, warehouse clubs and general merchandise stores.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Opticians

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Opticians jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 280 $34,040
Birmingham 280 $34,040
Montgomery 190 $29,620
Mobile 60 $26,500
Huntsville 60 $28,670
Dothan N/A $31,620
Tuscaloosa N/A $31,820
Muscle Shoals N/A $43,030
Florence N/A $43,030
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 90 $42,360
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Phoenix 1330 $37,930
Scottsdale 1330 $37,930
Mesa 1330 $37,930
Tucson 230 $35,890
Prescott 60 $34,910
Sierra Vista N/A $44,500
Douglas N/A $44,500
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 130 $39,580
North Little Rock 130 $39,580
Little Rock 130 $39,580
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 3040 $38,500
Anaheim 3040 $38,500
Los Angeles 3040 $38,500
Hayward 910 $42,320
Oakland 910 $42,320
San Francisco 910 $42,320
San Diego 770 $43,130
Carlsbad 770 $43,130
San Bernardino 690 $35,300
Ontario 690 $35,300
Riverside 690 $35,300
Arcade 410 $38,770
Roseville 410 $38,770
Arden 410 $38,770
Sacramento 410 $38,770
Sunnyvale 350 $50,550
San Jose 350 $50,550
Santa Clara 350 $50,550
Fresno 190 $39,080
Thousand Oaks 190 $41,900
Ventura 190 $41,900
Oxnard 190 $41,900
Modesto 160 $32,710
Lodi 130 $34,920
Stockton 130 $34,920
Salinas 100 $42,080
Bakersfield 90 $40,040
Santa Maria 80 $33,500
Santa Barbara 80 $33,500
Santa Rosa 80 $44,230
Watsonville 80 $45,160
Santa Cruz 80 $45,160
Fairfield 80 $53,930
Vallejo 80 $53,930
Paso Robles 70 $40,280
Arroyo Grande 70 $40,280
San Luis Obispo 70 $40,280
Chico 60 $37,090
Visalia 50 $37,230
Porterville 50 $37,230
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Denver 560 $36,680
Aurora 560 $36,680
Lakewood 560 $36,680
Colorado Springs 170 $30,490
Boulder 160 $42,320
Fort Collins 80 $32,890
Greeley 60 N/A
Grand Junction 40 $34,090
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Haven 290 $38,620
Norwalk 280 $38,530
Stamford 280 $38,530
Bridgeport 280 $38,530
Hartford 220 $44,260
East Hartford 220 $44,260
West Hartford 220 $44,260
Waterbury N/A $36,820
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover N/A $40,300
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 1670 $41,530
Fort Lauderdale 1670 $41,530
Miami 1670 $41,530
Tampa 680 $37,630
Clearwater 680 $37,630
St. Petersburg 680 $37,630
Kissimmee 540 $34,810
Sanford 540 $34,810
Orlando 540 $34,810
Jacksonville 410 $34,760
North Port 410 $42,220
Sarasota 410 $42,220
Bradenton 410 $42,220
Port St. Lucie 170 $37,100
Ferry Pass 160 $34,000
Pensacola 160 $34,000
Brent 160 $34,000
Lakeland 150 $29,980
Winter Haven 150 $29,980
Palm Bay 150 $35,840
Melbourne 150 $35,840
Titusville 150 $35,840
Deltona 130 $35,290
Ormond Beach 130 $35,290
Daytona Beach 130 $35,290
Destin 130 $40,220
Fort Walton Beach 130 $40,220
Crestview 130 $40,220
Cape Coral 120 $43,850
Fort Myers 120 $43,850
Sebastian 80 $34,670
Vero Beach 80 $34,670
Tallahassee 70 $30,750
Ocala 50 $31,220
Panama City N/A $31,580
Immokalee N/A $42,340
Marco Island N/A $42,340
Naples N/A $42,340
Gainesville N/A $42,780
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 900 $33,100
Atlanta 900 $33,100
Sandy Springs 900 $33,100
Warner Robins 30 $24,390
Clarke County 30 $37,050
Athens 30 $37,050
Gainesville N/A $19,130
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 350 $34,700
Lahaina N/A $37,330
Wailuku N/A $37,330
Kahului N/A $37,330
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 250 $34,160
Coeur d'Alene N/A $29,280
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rockford 120 $29,650
Springfield 110 $30,060
Peoria 90 $30,650
Urbana 50 $29,350
Champaign 50 $29,350
Carbondale N/A $26,830
Marion N/A $26,830
Decatur N/A $28,480
Bloomington N/A $34,980
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 390 $30,600
Anderson 390 $30,600
Indianapolis 390 $30,600
Fort Wayne 160 $28,100
Muncie 60 $29,120
Michigan City 30 $27,620
La Porte 30 $27,620
Elkhart 30 $28,540
Goshen 30 $28,540
Kokomo 30 $28,570
Terre Haute N/A $29,870
Lafayette N/A $38,480
West Lafayette N/A $38,480
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 280 $33,680
Des Moines 280 $33,680
Cedar Rapids 80 $27,690
Iowa City 70 $27,400
Cedar Falls 60 $27,450
Waterloo 60 $27,450
Ames 50 $28,960
Dubuque N/A $31,800
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 210 $25,430
Topeka 60 $25,720
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 160 $39,380
Lexington 160 $39,380
Bowling Green 50 $38,000
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 390 $33,160
New Orleans 390 $33,160
Baton Rouge 220 $31,660
Bossier City 170 $28,650
Shreveport 170 $28,650
Lafayette 130 $29,460
Houma 90 $28,290
Thibodaux 90 $28,290
Alexandria 80 $24,400
Lake Charles 60 $30,650
Hammond N/A $27,600
Monroe N/A $34,730
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 120 $39,530
South Portland 120 $39,530
Bangor 30 $38,070
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 410 $34,900
Columbia 410 $34,900
Baltimore 410 $34,900
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Leominster 50 $52,850
Gardner 50 $52,850
New Bedford 30 $47,520
Barnstable Town N/A $53,110
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 1460 $37,090
Detroit 1460 $37,090
Dearborn 1460 $37,090
Kalamazoo 290 $28,620
Portage 290 $28,620
Wyoming 220 $32,210
Grand Rapids 220 $32,210
Flint 210 $34,020
Lansing 130 $32,790
East Lansing 130 $32,790
Ann Arbor 90 $35,970
Saginaw 50 $29,430
Benton Harbor 50 $30,770
Niles 50 $30,770
Bay City 40 $25,330
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 160 $33,330
Rochester 100 $35,310
North Mankato 40 $34,400
Mankato 40 $34,400
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 60 $27,480
Hattiesburg 30 $23,360
Pascagoula N/A $29,280
Biloxi N/A $29,280
Gulfport N/A $29,280
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 110 $26,970
Columbia 60 $19,560
Joplin 60 $30,990
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 90 $33,240
Great Falls 70 $33,450
Missoula 60 $32,270
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 180 $29,630
Grand Island 30 $28,060
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 230 $37,680
Henderson 230 $37,680
Las Vegas 230 $37,680
Reno 110 $41,700
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester N/A $33,880
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 90 $57,640
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 210 $34,310
Santa Fe 60 $32,690
Las Cruces N/A $23,100
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 330 $44,660
Cheektowaga 330 $44,660
Buffalo 330 $44,660
Rochester 220 $51,190
Albany 190 $44,420
Schenectady 190 $44,420
Troy 190 $44,420
Syracuse 160 $38,970
Binghamton 50 $42,480
Kingston 50 $47,130
Fort Drum 30 $41,750
Watertown 30 $41,750
Rome N/A $53,330
Utica N/A $53,330
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 300 $43,170
Asheville 130 $39,640
Durham 130 $48,490
Chapel Hill 130 $48,490
Lenoir 90 $32,970
Morganton 90 $32,970
Hickory 90 $32,970
Salem 90 $35,740
Winston 90 $35,740
Wilmington 90 $39,820
Greensboro 70 $35,060
High Point 70 $35,060
Fayetteville 50 $52,530
Rocky Mount 40 $29,830
Burlington 40 $31,390
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 90 $27,730
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 660 $35,430
Elyria 540 $37,480
Cleveland 540 $37,480
Dayton 290 $33,370
Toledo 160 $37,180
Massillon 110 $33,920
Canton 110 $33,920
Akron 70 $36,070
Springfield N/A $34,770
Lima N/A $36,260
Mansfield N/A $42,970
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 240 $25,110
Oklahoma City 240 $28,210
Lawton N/A $26,520
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 110 $33,920
Redmond 100 $35,710
Bend 100 $35,710
Salem 80 $37,120
Albany 50 $34,210
Medford 40 $34,500
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 850 $39,030
York 210 $35,170
Hanover 210 $35,170
Lancaster 180 $35,360
Barre 150 $28,460
Hazleton 150 $28,460
Wilkes 150 $28,460
Scranton 150 $28,460
Reading 130 $50,010
Carlisle 100 $37,100
Harrisburg 100 $37,100
Erie 70 $31,620
Johnstown 50 $27,500
Lebanon 50 $46,380
Altoona 40 $26,280
State College 40 $31,480
East Stroudsburg N/A $32,700
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 370 $21,120
Carolina 370 $21,120
San Juan 370 $21,120
Mayag�ez 40 $20,300
Ponce N/A $19,070
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 220 $29,240
North Charleston 220 $29,240
Mauldin 170 $34,360
Anderson 170 $34,360
Greenville 170 $34,360
Columbia 90 $35,590
Bluffton 70 $35,730
Beaufort 70 $35,730
Hilton Head Island 70 $35,730
Florence 60 $29,610
Spartanburg 50 $37,280
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 120 $30,450
Rapid City 80 $28,430
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 420 $26,170
Franklin 420 $26,170
Davidson 420 $26,170
Nashville 420 $26,170
Knoxville 150 $33,380
Johnson City 80 $42,880
Cleveland N/A $29,270
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 2010 $30,570
Dallas 2010 $30,570
Arlington 2010 $30,570
The Woodlands 1370 $30,310
Sugar Land 1370 $30,310
Houston 1370 $30,310
Austin 580 $28,070
Round Rock 580 $28,070
New Braunfels 440 $31,420
San Antonio 440 $31,420
El Paso 190 $27,910
Temple 180 $28,680
Killeen 180 $28,680
Lubbock 150 $28,860
McAllen 100 $24,310
Edinburg 100 $24,310
Mission 100 $24,310
Corpus Christi 90 $24,430
Beaumont 90 $28,530
Port Arthur 90 $28,530
Amarillo 80 $29,820
Longview 70 $28,160
Abilene 70 $29,630
College Station 60 $24,840
Bryan 60 $24,840
Wichita Falls 60 $26,550
Odessa 50 $26,540
San Angelo 40 $25,110
Waco 40 $26,820
Midland 40 $28,450
Brownsville N/A $25,220
Harlingen N/A $25,220
Laredo N/A $27,210
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 280 $30,720
Clearfield 80 $29,290
Ogden 80 $29,290
Provo 80 $32,210
Orem 80 $32,210
St. George 50 $30,430
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 40 $43,770
Burlington 40 $43,770
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 300 $43,640
Roanoke 120 $40,530
Staunton 50 $31,420
Waynesboro 50 $31,420
Lynchburg 30 $33,260
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 610 $51,950
Tacoma 610 $51,950
Bellevue 610 $51,950
Olympia 100 $39,050
Tumwater 100 $39,050
Bellingham 100 $43,070
Spokane 90 $42,530
Spokane Valley 90 $42,530
Richland 70 $40,820
Kennewick 70 $40,820
Silverdale 50 $44,830
Bremerton 50 $44,830
Yakima 40 $38,210
Walla Walla N/A $44,020
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 50 $29,720
Vienna 40 $25,510
Parkersburg 40 $25,510
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Milwaukee 490 $31,020
West Allis 490 $31,020
Waukesha 490 $31,020
Madison 190 $33,130
Green Bay 130 $25,400
Appleton 100 $30,420
Eau Claire 50 $27,130
Janesville 40 $28,060
Beloit 40 $28,060
Sheboygan 40 $30,690
Racine 30 $30,100
Wausau N/A $24,780
Neenah N/A $28,650
Oshkosh N/A $28,650
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 80 $36,520
Cheyenne 50 $30,020

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Opticians

To find out more about building a career as Opticians, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Opticians

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 32,050 54% $31,300
Drug Stores 20,630 35% $34,700
Department And General Stores 5,070 8% $37,790
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