How Much Does it Cost to Become an Optician?

Are you considering a career as an optician?

If so, you must first understand costs associated with becoming an optician including school tuition and licensing.

Once you have officially earned your degree or certificate to work as an optician, some of your work duties will include:

  • Help patients get fitted for contact lenses or glasses
  • Process prescriptions that you receive from optometrists and ophthalmologists
  • Help patients who have vision problems choose the right pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • Get work orders together for the optical technicians
  • Stay on top of inventory for contact lenses and frames
  • Manage customer records, prescriptions, and insurance

This guide will help guide you on all related costs of becoming an optician, so you can determine whether this is an ideal career path for you.

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How Much Does it Cost to Complete Optician Trade/Vocational School?

Costs can vary when it comes to enrollment for an optician program.

On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $600 and $4,000 for vocational/trade school.

Most schools that you find will offer both hands-on training and classroom learning.

With trade schools, you may be required to gain experience working with real patients in healthcare settings.

Most of the topics that you will cover range from eyeglasses to optometric practice management techniques.

Community College

There are many community colleges that offer both certificate programs and two-year programs to become a certified optician.

Typically, certificate programs only take a year to complete.

Associate’s degree programs normally take two years complete, as they are more involved.

Once you have enrolled in a community college for a program, you will take various courses such as lens technology, and laboratory sessions.

These programs will prepare you for a position as an optician.

Once you receive your associate’s degree or certificate, you will move on to an apprenticeship where you will spend at least three years learning how to read prescriptions and shaping lenses.

Trade School vs. College by Numbers

National AverageFour-Year CollegeTwo-Year CollegeTrade School
Average Cost$60,000 to $116,400$4,000 to $10,000$600 to $4,000
Time to Complete4 years24 months12 months
Other ExpensesBooks/Supplies/EquipmentBooks/Supplies/EquipmentBooks
AwardBachelor's degreeAssociate's degreeCertificate

How Much Does an Optician License Cost?

Depending on the state in which you reside, licensing, exam costs, and other requirements will vary.

For example, the state of Tennessee requires you to take the American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners exam.

Other states require this exam as well.

The exam must be completed within the apprenticeship timeframe.

Once you have taken this exam, you will receive your optician license.

Additionally, you must continue to receive ongoing education each year to maintain your license.

Only 22 states in the country require you to have an optician license to work.

These states are:

  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Virginia
  • Vermont

In these states, you are required to pass a written exam and possibly a practical exam.

You may also need to show proof that you completed an associate’s degree program or an apprenticeship.

On average, the exam costs $150 but can be as much as $400.

What are the Additional Costs After Becoming an Optician?

While you’re still in school, you will need to pay for books, supplies, and your license.

Once you have received your optician license, there aren’t really any additional costs besides purchasing the necessary work attire such as:

  • Lab coat
  • Dress shoes
  • Slacks
  • Skirts or dresses

The equipment that you will be using to perform your work will be supplied to you.

Opticians will typically use the following equipment to perform their duties successfully:

  • Slit lamp
  • Keratometer
  • Retinoscope
  • Auto-refractor
  • Phoropter
  • Ophthalmoscope
  • Retinoscope

Is Becoming an Optician a Good Investment?

Overall, a job as an optician is low-stress and laid-back.

On average, opticians make $37,570.

However, opticians on the higher end made $47,660 in 2021.

The lowest made $30,310 that year.

The majority of opticians will receive on-the-job training.

However, you can invest in a program or a two-year degree.

Costs associated with these programs can vary anywhere between $600 to $10,000.

While a four-year degree isn’t necessary to become an optician, you can easily land a career as an optician if you receive a bachelor’s degree in optometry.

Costs can be as high as $116,400.

Costs for licensing typically cost anywhere between $150 to $400.

However, all states don’t require optician licenses such as Illinois and Alabama.

There aren’t too many additional costs associated with becoming an optician.

Overall, the investment that you make to receive the necessary education and licensing could be well worthwhile if you are willing to put in the required work.

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