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New York Health Careers

Opticians

What Do Opticians Do?

Opticians design, measure, fit, and adapt eyeglasses, frames, and contact lenses for clients according to prescriptions from ophthalmologists or optometrists. Opticians measure a client’s eyes, including the distance between the centers of the pupils and between the eye surface and a lens to determine the best fit for each individual. Opticians use a range of factors to determine and recommend frames and lenses for a client, from facial features to occupation. Opticians will prepare a work order for an optical laboratory containing instructions for grinding and mounting specific lenses in frames. They will verify exactness of finished lenses and adjust frame and lens position to fit the client. An optician may shape or reshape frames until a precise fit is achieved.

For additional information on opticians, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/opticians-dispensing.htm.

Where Do Opticians Work?

Opticians work in physician offices, optical stores, and retail and department stores. Most opticians work 40 hours a week, and some may work evenings and weekends, especially those based in stores.

What Do Opticians Earn?

In 2017, the median annual salary in New York for opticians was $53,080, and in 2016, the national median salary for opticians was $35,530. Opticians who work in physician offices and health care centers may make slightly more than those in retail settings.

Supply and Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of opticians will increase by 23.6% in New York between 2014 and 2024 and by 23.7% nationwide in the same period.

Middle age is a time when many individuals use corrective lenses for the first time, and older adults generally require more vision care than others. As the share of these older age groups in the population increases, more opticians will be needed to provide services to them. However, the number of job openings for opticians will be limited because the occupation is small. Also, new technology is allowing opticians to work faster, limiting the need for more workers. Also moderating the need for optician services is the growing use of laser surgery to correct vision problems.

Still, fashion also influences demand. Eyeglasses frames come in a growing variety of styles, colors, and sizes, encouraging people to buy more than one pair or switch frames frequently, thereby requiring the services of opticians.

For more information on projections of opticians by New York State labor regions, click here.

Educational Program Requirements

While a high school degree is desirable as is at least some college, most workers entering this occupation receive their training on the job, mainly through formal apprenticeship programs that may last two years or longer. This training includes technical instruction in which, for example, new opticians measure a customer’s eyes or adjust frames under the supervision of an experienced optician. Trainees also learn sales and office management practices.

Individuals interested in the field should have knowledge of mathematics, physics, geometry, mechanical drawing, algebra, and basic anatomy. Some employers prefer to hire people who have graduated from an opticianry or ophthalmic dispensing program. A number of community colleges and technical schools offer formal education in opticianry. Some award an associate degree, which takes two years, and others offer a certificate, which takes one year. An accredited two-year degree program may provide general math and science courses (physics algebra, trigonometry) and specific courses in the anatomy of the eye and courses in ophthalmic materials and dispensing. Familiarity with a variety of computer skills is also valuable.

For more information on accredited optician schools, go to: http://www.coaccreditation.com/.

New York Licensure Requirements

To be licensed as an optician in New York, individuals must graduate from a two-year ophthalmic dispensing education program registered or approved by New York State Education Department or satisfactorily complete an NYSED approved two-year apprenticeship training program. Applicants must also pass a written and a practical exam. Additional requirements are necessary to dispense contact lenses. For more information on New York State licensure requirements, go to: www.op.nysed.gov/prof/od/

National Certification

While certification is not required for an optician to practice in New York, national certifications are available from either the American Board of Opticianry for those who fit, work with, or dispense eyeglasses and the National Contact Lens Examiners for those who fit and work with contact lenses. For more information on these certifications, go to: http://www.abo-ncle.org/.

Financial Support

Some colleges, various optical companies, and state and local optician associations, including the New York State Society of Opticians, http://www.nysso.org/, offer scholarships for students pursuing optician degrees.

Education Programs in New York

Erie Community College
State University of New York
North Campus
6205 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221
(716) 851-1322
Technical Career Institutes
College of Technology

320 West 31st St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 594-4012
New York City College of Technology
259 Adams St
Pearl Building 312
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 260-5298
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