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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 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Montgomery 190 $32,190
Mobile 120 $25,860
Tuscaloosa 80 $25,250
Huntsville 70 $28,470
Gadsden 40 $27,720
Jacksonville 40 $29,330
Oxford 40 $29,330
Anniston 40 $29,330
Opelika 40 $34,480
Auburn 40 $34,480
Foley 40 $38,660
Fairhope 40 $38,660
Daphne 40 $38,660
Birmingham N/A $30,450
Hoover N/A $30,450
Muscle Shoals N/A $44,290
Florence N/A $44,290
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 100 $42,570
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 1440 $33,400
Phoenix 1440 $33,400
Scottsdale 1440 $33,400
Tucson 230 $35,400
Yuma 40 $32,600
Prescott 30 N/A
Lake Havasu City 30 $30,570
Kingman 30 $30,570
Sierra Vista N/A $44,500
Douglas N/A $44,500
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 110 $42,130
North Little Rock 110 $42,130
Little Rock 110 $42,130
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 3180 $37,480
Long Beach 3180 $37,480
Anaheim 3180 $37,480
Hayward 1150 $45,500
San Francisco 1150 $45,500
Oakland 1150 $45,500
Riverside 780 $35,100
Ontario 780 $35,100
San Bernardino 780 $35,100
San Diego 760 $38,770
Carlsbad 760 $38,770
Roseville 440 $37,260
Sacramento 440 $37,260
Arcade 440 $37,260
Arden 440 $37,260
San Jose 310 $47,120
Sunnyvale 310 $47,120
Santa Clara 310 $47,120
Oxnard 140 $39,730
Thousand Oaks 140 $39,730
Ventura 140 $39,730
Fresno 140 $40,830
Santa Barbara 100 $30,700
Santa Maria 100 $30,700
Salinas 100 $39,760
Lodi 90 $37,100
Stockton 90 $37,100
San Luis Obispo 80 $38,980
Paso Robles 80 $38,980
Arroyo Grande 80 $38,980
Watsonville 80 $44,800
Santa Cruz 80 $44,800
Santa Rosa 80 $47,490
Fairfield 80 $52,290
Vallejo 80 $52,290
Bakersfield 60 $35,190
Porterville 50 $37,720
Visalia 50 $37,720
Chico 40 $39,260
Modesto N/A $37,600
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 510 $39,620
Denver 510 $39,620
Lakewood 510 $39,620
Colorado Springs 240 $33,790
Boulder 150 $43,590
Greeley 70 N/A
Fort Collins 70 $34,950
Pueblo 50 $28,470
Grand Junction 40 $33,020
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bridgeport 300 $38,930
Norwalk 300 $38,930
Stamford 300 $38,930
New Haven 220 $32,920
East Hartford 160 $43,860
Hartford 160 $43,860
West Hartford 160 $43,860
Waterbury 90 $38,120
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 1500 $36,560
Miami 1500 $36,560
Fort Lauderdale 1500 $36,560
St. Petersburg 800 $35,380
Clearwater 800 $35,380
Tampa 800 $35,380
Kissimmee 560 $33,110
Orlando 560 $33,110
Sanford 560 $33,110
Jacksonville 320 $41,760
North Port 310 $41,270
Bradenton 310 $41,270
Sarasota 310 $41,270
Ormond Beach 130 $36,200
Daytona Beach 130 $36,200
Deltona 130 $36,200
Palm Bay 130 $36,380
Titusville 130 $36,380
Melbourne 130 $36,380
Fort Walton Beach 130 $39,760
Destin 130 $39,760
Crestview 130 $39,760
Cape Coral 130 $43,470
Fort Myers 130 $43,470
Brent 120 $31,110
Ferry Pass 120 $31,110
Pensacola 120 $31,110
Tallahassee 100 $31,330
Lakeland 100 $43,510
Winter Haven 100 $43,510
Port St. Lucie 90 $41,330
Panama City 80 $33,310
Vero Beach 70 $33,450
Sebastian 70 $33,450
Ocala 60 $31,440
Immokalee 60 $39,640
Marco Island 60 $39,640
Naples 60 $39,640
Punta Gorda 30 $44,100
Gainesville N/A $44,840
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 800 $29,490
Atlanta 800 $29,490
Roswell 800 $29,490
Warner Robins 60 $24,290
Savannah 50 $33,860
Macon 40 $31,150
Dalton 40 $32,260
Athens 30 $36,100
Clarke County 30 $36,100
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 340 $35,700
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 260 $33,350
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 130 $30,340
Rockford 110 $34,160
Peoria 80 $29,930
Carbondale 80 $32,410
Marion 80 $32,410
Urbana 60 $32,000
Champaign 60 $32,000
Decatur 40 $30,310
Bloomington N/A $35,620
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 350 $28,220
Carmel 350 $28,220
Indianapolis 350 $28,220
Fort Wayne 140 $23,400
Lafayette 90 $34,820
West Lafayette 90 $34,820
Muncie 70 $28,430
Bloomington 50 $29,420
Kokomo 40 $29,540
Goshen 40 $31,320
Elkhart 40 $31,320
Terre Haute N/A $29,030
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 200 $34,790
Des Moines 200 $34,790
Cedar Rapids 100 $27,890
Iowa City 70 $30,660
Cedar Falls 40 $34,050
Waterloo 40 $34,050
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 170 $28,270
Topeka 60 $23,070
Manhattan 30 $29,480
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 140 $41,630
Lexington 140 $41,630
Bowling Green N/A $45,170
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 380 $34,260
Metairie 380 $34,260
Baton Rouge 200 $33,880
Lafayette 170 $31,010
Hammond 110 $29,350
Houma 60 $28,370
Thibodaux 60 $28,370
Monroe 60 $35,620
Bossier City 50 $33,450
Shreveport 50 $33,450
Lake Charles 40 $27,980
Alexandria N/A $23,900
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 120 $40,280
Portland 120 $40,280
Bangor N/A $39,610
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 400 $36,720
Columbia 400 $36,720
Baltimore 400 $36,720
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Gardner 50 $57,840
Leominster 50 $57,840
New Bedford 30 $41,960
Barnstable Town N/A $55,760
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 1530 $37,520
Dearborn 1530 $37,520
Detroit 1530 $37,520
Kalamazoo 320 $31,250
Portage 320 $31,250
Wyoming 290 $33,120
Grand Rapids 290 $33,120
Lansing 110 $35,010
East Lansing 110 $35,010
Ann Arbor 100 $35,970
Saginaw 50 $30,080
Benton Harbor 50 $30,920
Niles 50 $30,920
Bay City 40 $26,260
Battle Creek 40 $35,310
Flint N/A $34,580
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 150 $34,880
St. Cloud 90 $37,390
Mankato 40 $33,290
North Mankato 40 $33,290
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pascagoula 70 $28,730
Biloxi 70 $28,730
Gulfport 70 $28,730
Jackson 60 $30,570
Hattiesburg 50 $23,220
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 120 $30,160
Columbia 100 $22,200
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 80 $34,740
Great Falls 70 $33,740
Missoula 30 $33,780
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 210 $32,030
Grand Island 30 $27,700
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 280 $36,580
Henderson 280 $36,580
Las Vegas 280 $36,580
Reno 130 $34,780
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 70 $36,860
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 70 $54,960
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 120 $34,070
Santa Fe N/A $33,790
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 410 $47,500
Cheektowaga 410 $47,500
Buffalo 410 $47,500
Rochester 180 $52,960
Syracuse 140 $48,540
Albany 110 $41,300
Schenectady 110 $41,300
Troy 110 $41,300
Binghamton 60 $40,610
Kingston 40 $52,830
Glens Falls 30 $48,210
Rome N/A $38,550
Utica N/A $38,550
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 270 $45,760
Winston 100 $35,250
Salem 100 $35,250
Asheville 100 $41,250
Durham 90 $42,190
Chapel Hill 90 $42,190
Greensboro 80 $32,770
High Point 80 $32,770
Wilmington 80 $40,520
Rocky Mount 60 $29,110
Fayetteville 60 $39,230
Burlington 40 $30,750
Hickory N/A $36,920
Lenoir N/A $36,920
Morganton N/A $36,920
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 70 $31,120
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 630 $39,490
Cleveland 630 $39,490
Columbus 620 $34,550
Dayton 190 $34,930
Toledo 140 $37,410
Canton 130 $34,690
Massillon 130 $34,690
Akron 100 $38,200
Springfield 40 $35,290
Mansfield 40 $38,280
Lima N/A $37,540
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 260 $31,470
Tulsa 250 $29,330
Lawton N/A $27,010
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 100 $34,480
Salem 90 $37,070
Redmond 90 $37,570
Bend 90 $37,570
Medford 60 $34,000
Albany 60 $36,740
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 750 $41,600
Lancaster 230 $39,620
York 210 $34,540
Hanover 210 $34,540
Carlisle 130 $32,580
Harrisburg 130 $32,580
Erie 120 $29,100
Reading 120 $37,510
Hazleton 100 $30,090
Barre 100 $30,090
Wilkes 100 $30,090
Scranton 100 $30,090
East Stroudsburg 50 $32,860
Altoona 40 $27,370
Lebanon 30 $45,970
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 360 $22,590
Carolina 360 $22,590
San Juan 360 $22,590
Ponce 60 $19,240
Arecibo N/A $21,910
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 240 $29,970
North Charleston 240 $29,970
Greenville 200 $35,830
Mauldin 200 $35,830
Anderson 200 $35,830
Columbia 60 $36,760
Florence 50 $30,420
Spartanburg 50 $38,240
Beaufort 40 $34,410
Hilton Head Island 40 $34,410
Bluffton 40 $34,410
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 110 $30,820
Rapid City 100 $28,710
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 610 $29,700
Franklin 610 $29,700
Davidson 610 $29,700
Nashville 610 $29,700
Knoxville 270 $34,980
Johnson City 90 $41,410
Morristown N/A $17,860
Cleveland N/A $29,580
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 2150 $33,350
Fort Worth 2150 $33,350
Arlington 2150 $33,350
The Woodlands 1500 $31,780
Sugar Land 1500 $31,780
Houston 1500 $31,780
Round Rock 520 $28,970
Austin 520 $28,970
San Antonio 400 $32,620
New Braunfels 400 $32,620
El Paso 190 $28,320
Corpus Christi 120 $25,160
Lubbock 120 $33,560
Edinburg 110 $29,500
Mission 110 $29,500
McAllen 110 $29,500
Temple 100 $30,010
Killeen 100 $30,010
Port Arthur 100 $31,370
Beaumont 100 $31,370
Amarillo 100 $32,030
Harlingen 80 $27,010
Brownsville 80 $27,010
Bryan 60 $25,530
College Station 60 $25,530
Longview 60 $28,400
Waco 50 $25,880
San Angelo 50 $27,960
Abilene 50 $30,220
Odessa 40 $26,310
Midland 40 $29,380
Laredo 30 $22,890
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 320 $31,720
Orem 120 $28,520
Provo 120 $28,520
Ogden 100 $29,080
Clearfield 100 $29,080
St. George 40 $34,990
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 40 $45,230
Burlington 40 $45,230
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 380 $43,420
Roanoke 200 $43,510
Waynesboro 60 $39,620
Staunton 60 $39,620
Charlottesville 50 N/A
Lynchburg N/A $34,650
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 490 $51,760
Tacoma 490 $51,760
Seattle 490 $51,760
Spokane 170 $38,150
Spokane Valley 170 $38,150
Bellingham 100 $43,350
Tumwater 80 $38,830
Olympia 80 $38,830
Kennewick 60 $36,680
Richland 60 $36,680
Anacortes 50 $44,020
Mount Vernon 50 $44,020
Silverdale 40 $41,120
Bremerton 40 $41,120
Yakima 30 $40,830
Longview 30 $47,540
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 60 $31,110
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 390 $32,600
Waukesha 390 $32,600
Milwaukee 390 $32,600
Madison 250 $35,240
Green Bay 110 $26,220
Appleton 100 $31,390
Neenah 70 $30,590
Oshkosh 70 $30,590
Janesville 60 $26,470
Beloit 60 $26,470
Eau Claire 50 $30,210
Racine 30 $29,770
Sheboygan N/A $30,160
Wausau N/A $32,400
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 80 $40,200
Cheyenne 50 $31,300

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.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

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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