How Long Does It Take To Become An Optician?

Customers’ eyewear requirements are met by opticians. As part of this, eyewear must be ready, clients who need glasses or contacts must be served, and eyewear must be fitted and adjusted in accordance with the customer’s requirements and the prescription. 

Customer education on eyewear-related issues is another aspect of the work. Keeping track of sales and managing inventory are simple administrative responsibilities for opticians. 

Optical businesses might be owned by optometrists or they may work in the offices of medical professionals. As you can see below, becoming an optician requires a lot of education and training.

This article explains all you need to know about Optician and how long it takes to become one. 

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What is an Optician School Like?

When looking for eye treatment, consumers will typically first speak with an optician. The majority of optometrists work in vision care shops and are actively involved in client service. 

Other opticians, meanwhile, work for optometrists who conduct their practices more in a hospital atmosphere. However, during the vision care experience, opticians frequently spend more time with clients than anybody else.

Being an optician is a very challenging yet rewarding procedure because it calls for extensive in-depth training. Two to three years of practical training are needed to finish this process. 

Testing is also necessary to confirm that you possess the abilities and information necessary to correctly administer glasses and contact lenses.

It can be challenging to attend optometry school, especially in your first year and in a strange place.

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Is Attending an Optician School Worth it?

According to Glassdoor, the average income was $37,749 as of May 2022 [2], while for individuals with managerial duties, it might reach $65,810. With approximately 9,000 optician jobs in the United States published on Indeed in May 2022, a career in this field ranks highly for criteria like work-life balance and career prospects.

Following ophthalmologists’ and optometrists’ prescriptions, opticians assist customers in getting fitted for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

 Additionally, they aid those patients in choosing a pair of lenses or contacts. This not only makes the work interesting and innovative, but optics is also a booming field with promising job prospects!

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What Schooling Do I Need to Become an Optician?

Step 1: Finish Optician School 

The majority of opticians complete formal training through either a two-year Associate’s Degree degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing or a certification program from a vocational school. Those who possess a high school diploma or GED are eligible for both of these options. 

A two-year apprenticeship program with an already-licensed optician may also be an option for some people who want to become opticians. 

This approach involves learning skills on the job without any formal classroom instruction. This is a less structured route, though, and most businesses favor applicants who have an associate’s degree or who have completed a certificate program.

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Step 2: Obtain Your License 

Whatever route you take, there’s a strong chance you’ll need a license because over half of the states in the US have licensing requirements. 

Each state has its own procedures for licensure, which often entail completing the necessary training and passing an exam. 

There are also national certificates for dispensing contact lenses and glasses. The certification tests are provided by the American Board of Opticianry/National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO/NCLE).

Opticians often possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and receive on-the-job training to further their professional skills. Technical training may involve a rookie optician measuring a customer’s eyes or adjusting glasses under the guidance of a more seasoned optician.

 Additionally, training includes office and sales management techniques. A two-year minimum apprenticeship is something that some optometrists complete. 

Some optometrists finish their tertiary education in a technical college or community college. These courses grant either a 1-year certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree. The Commission on Opticianry Accreditation had granted accreditation to 19 programs in 11 states as of 2017. 

Classroom training and clinical practice are often both included in educational programs. A few of the subjects covered in the coursework are algebra, business management, optics, and ocular physiology.

Additionally, students engage in supervised clinical work where they gain practical experience as opticians and learn optical physics, optical arithmetic, and how to use precision measuring equipment. There are distant learning possibilities for some programs. 

The Ophthalmic Career Progression Program (OCPP), a program created for people who are currently employed in the field, is provided by the National Academy of Opticianry. The OCPP gives optometrists another way to get ready for certification or licensure exams.

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How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Optician?

Opticians must be licensed in around half of the states. In order to obtain a license, one must often complete an approved program of formal study or an apprenticeship. Additionally, licensing tests for opticians must be passed. Information about license requirements can be obtained from the state’s licensing board for opticians. 

Opticians have the option of earning certification in either dispensing contact lenses, glasses, or both. Exams from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners are necessary for certification (NCLE). 

The ABO and NCLE exams serve as the foundation for state licensing by almost all state licensing boards. In some areas, passing state-specific practical tests for opticians is also a requirement. 

Opticians must renew their licenses every one to three years in the majority of states that require licensure.

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How Much Does it Cost to Be a Licensed Optician in 2023?

The price of an optician program can vary depending on a number of variables, including the program’s length and level of specialty, whether you are an in-state resident or an out-of-state student, the school’s location, and your state of residence. 

Although there is no set educational need to work as an optician, on-the-job training programs often last two years. 

Although the two-year associate’s degree is the ideal option, there are other one-year optician programs available. 

An optician program’s annual tuition typically ranges from $600 to $4,000. 

It can cost between $4,000 and $10,000 or more to enroll in a two-year optician program at a community college that has been approved by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation.

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Salary and Job Outlook for Optician After Study

Opticians get an average salary of $37,570 per year. The wage at which half of the employees in a profession made more money than that amount and half made less is known as the median wage. The bottom 10% earned less than $28,910, while the top 10% made more than $60,280.

Over the next 10 years, employment of opticians is expected to increase by 4%, roughly as quickly as the average for all occupations. 

Over the next ten years, there are expected to be, on average, 6,700 openings for opticians. Many of those positions are anticipated to be brought on by the need to replace workers who change careers or leave the workforce due to retirement.

The number of elderly individuals is predicted to increase, and older people often have more eye issues than younger people, thus there will be a greater demand for eye-care services. 

Because some chronic diseases, like diabetes, can cause vision issues, rising incidence of chronic diseases may also result in rising demand for opticianry services.

 Opticians will now be required to provide prescriptions for corrective eyeglasses for patients with eye refractive issues including myopia and astigmatism. 

However, rising consumer interest in online eyeglasses purchases could partially moderate demand for employment. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it challenging to pursue a career in optics? 

A high school diploma or GED is the prerequisite for enrollment in an optician certification program or an associate’s degree in opticianry. Although it is not difficult to become an optician, it does require effort and dedication.

Are opticians paid well? 

The median annual wage for an optician in 2020 was $38,530, or $18.53 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, incomes vary depending on a number of criteria, including geographic area, the workplace, and the number of years of experience.

What is the Difference between optician and other eye care providers?

Technicians who fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision-correcting equipment are known as opticians. Optometrists inspect, identify, and treat patients’ eyes. Ophthalmologists are eye doctors who undertake both medicinal and surgical treatments for eye problems.


You can become an optician in one of two ways: either by finishing a certification program, which lasts about a year, or by earning an associate degree from a community college. It takes almost two years to finish this.



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