Optician jobs are on the rise throughout the United States with lots of new positions opening up every day. A quick internet search of optician job listings will showcase a long list of well-paying jobs. The boost in the elderly population typically means there is more people who will have eye problems, since issues are directly related to the aging process. There has also been an explosion in the overall healthcare industry and that surge has branched out into areas like vision care. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the opticianry industry will grow by 24% by the year 2024, meaning that there will be an abundance of new jobs. Those jobs also fall into an array of different settings.
Where do Opticians Work?
An optician can find employment in the private offices of an optometrist or ophthalmologist or optometrist. These practices are usually much smaller than retail stores that specialize in vision care. This type of setting usually calls for more interaction between the optician and optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Hospitals, Clinics and HMOs
This work setting does not represent the largest contingent of opticians, although those who do work in this sector are often highly skilled. That generally comes with a higher pay rate and it is a position that is not focused on the retail aspect of vision care.
This is the most common workplace for opticians as there are an abundance of retail vision care stores located throughout the United States. Opticians working in this sector deal with a lot of customer interaction and generally have strong interpersonal skills. Opticians can also advance to management positions in which they oversee the daily functioning of a vision care center.
Opticians can go into business for themselves and open up their own vision care store. This will require hiring other eye care specialists and their responsibilities will be upgraded, although it provides the opportunity to make a much larger amount of money.
There are a number of post-secondary schools that train opticians and they are always on the lookout for new teachers. Being able to shape future opticians on an educational level typically comes with a comfortable salary and it involves a lot of classroom instruction.
The companies that sell vision care products rely on sales representatives to get their products out to the masses. Opticians already have a top-level knowledge when it comes to this industry and combining that with sales tactics can lead to a different kind of opticianry career.
Opticians can expect to see a broad range of salaries and the pay rate depends on location, type of business and level of experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics averages out the annual national salary of opticians at $37,860. However, that salary has the potential to increase significantly based on the previously mentioned factors. The top-end earning state for opticians is Massachusetts, which features an average salary of $60,740 per year. Many experienced opticians can find jobs that carry an hourly rate between $25 and $35 per hour.
To become a dispensing optician, there are a variety of skills that need to be learned. These skills are attained through various educational paths that will lead to a future as a dispensing optician. The oldest form of an optician education exists in an apprenticeship program. This is where future opticians serve as an apprentice in a vision care center and learn from actual on-the-job training. A certain numbers of hours are required to complete an apprenticeship program as apprentices work under the direct supervision of an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist.
There is also the option of earning an optician certificate from a post-secondary school. These certificate programs typically last one year and teach the essentials of opticianry. An Associate’s Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing is another alternative, which is the longest of all of these educational paths. Earning an Associate’s Degree takes two years when students attend on a full-time basis.
A formal education prepares opticians to take certification exams, many of which are used by state licensing boards. There are 21 states that require opticians to obtain a state license. Each state is responsible for establishing its own licensing standards and criteria. There is not one universally-accepted certification that is required to work as an optician, although holding such a distinction strengthens an optician’s credentials, which could lead to higher pay rates. The American Board of Opticianry offers certifications for opticians and one for contact lenses as well.
In order to find an optician job, some type of training needs to be acquired. In those states where a license is required, proof of that license also needs to be presented. An optician has a variety of different options when it comes to education and choice of a work setting.
What Does an Optician Do?
Opticians are often considered to be the lifeblood of a vision care center. Their roles extend to a technical, administrative and customer service capacity. Opticians are able to dispense glasses and contact lenses based on the prescriptions of an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Their job also requires fitting customers with eyewear and that includes molding frames while using the proper tools. Opticians also advise patients on proper care of their eyewear and there are even administrative duties, which include tracking inventory and sales. On many occasions, opticians spend more time with customers than optometrists or ophthalmologists.
The ABO heads up the certification process for opticians and its website introduces that process, in addition to other valuable information.
Contact Lens Society of America
This society brings together a collection of professionals that work in the eye care industry, specializing in contact lens technology.
Opticians Association of America
This renowned association is open to dispensing opticians and involves news, resources and workshops in the world of opticianry.
Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
The accreditation of opticians has come a long way and this website breaks down the specifics that go into that aspect.