Opticians picture    Opticians image


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.


  • 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.


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

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Opticians jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 3,180 $39,870
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,150 $33,240
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 1,530 $38,200
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 1,500 $32,260
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,500 $37,170
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 1,440 $35,960
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 1,150 $46,970
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 800 $32,600
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 800 $35,860
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 780 $36,820
Total Employment for Opticians - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
Compare Total Employment for Opticians

Use our handy tool to see what employment numbers look like for two different metro areas

Salaries for Opticians - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
Compare Salaries for Opticians

Use our handy tool to see what salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Total employment and salary for professions similar to opticians

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

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment 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
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Master of Public Health
  • Earn your Master of Public Health Online from GW in 12 months.
  • GRE waivers available for qualified applicants.
  • Advance your career in a range of industries, including epidemiology, public health and biostatistics.
  • M.B.A.: Health Systems Management
  • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
  • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
  • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
  • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
  • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
  • Healthcare Management
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Online Master of Health Administration
  • RC believes that true learning takes place in a setting that values the individual
  • NEASC accredited with a catholic-centered education & Weston, MA campus
  • 44% of the Class of 2016 secured full-time professional employment at graduation
  • Over 90 percent of undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance
  • 40 percent of degree-seeking undergrads are first-generation college students
  • Dental Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Certificate - Medical Office
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
  • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
  • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
  • Dental Assistant
  • Offers accelerated programs w/ flexible schedules & professional instruction
  • Multiple accredited campuses across 9 states including CA, TX, NV, & PA
  • 10 + programs including Practical Nursing, Dental and Medical Assisting
  • Provides professional development training & career planning resources
  • Military Student Center (MSC) is committed to the success of military students
camnpus icon
San Diego
Request Info
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
  • Teaches academic excellence, career preparation, & civic engagement for success
  • More than 40 undergraduate majors and 50 minors, including top-ranked programs
  • In a recent survey, 90% of seniors rated overall experience as excellent or good
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education w/110 acre campus near Philadelphia
  • Military Friendly School in the top 20 % helping military families, Victory Media
  • MSN Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Presents stimulating, thoughtful programs for students in every academic field
  • SACS accredited w/many accreditations per program & 14:1 teacher-student ratio
  • 7 colleges with dozens of majors & programs to choose from for undergrads & grads
  • Beautiful 248 acre campus with ¾ mile waterfront located in Jacksonville, FL
  • Named an “America’s Best College” in the south for 10+ years, US News & World Report
Back to Top