Optician Jobs and Advancements

Opticians have lots of duties as aides to consumers looking for help with their visual aide needs, but it does not mean they have to work in a department store or optometrist office. There are lots of other employment opportunities for opticians and plenty of areas for advancement on the job, which generally leads to higher pay and prestige. Check out the optician salary article to find more in depth detail on salaries.

Before going into the different positions opticians can hold we must look at the starting point, which is an non-certified optician making the minimal amount. So, how can this person improve their value and make more money? Like all other jobs, experience is a key factor to earning more money, but the deciding factor to hire, promote, or offer a higher salary to similar workers could be certification or some other type of recognition, which makes one optician look better than the other. This is what makes certification from the American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners important factors. According to a survey on the organizations’ website, 75% of employers offered higher beginning salaries to certified personnel, 40% of employers gave preference for promotions to ABO or NCLE certified employees, and certified employees earned approximately $6,000 more per year than non-certified opticians after 10 years of service.

Experience and certification can help lead to further advancement to management positions or other industries that hire experienced opticians. Plus they offer higher pay because these industries do not hire as many opticians, but do hire the ones regarded as more knowledgeable and skillful.

Networking is another key factor that can lead opticians to higher positions, and those that are active with state optician organizations like the Connecticut Opticians Association, and attend conferences like the ones held by the ABO and NCLE, have opportunities to meet those in the field that can offer advice and even more opportunity.

Types of Jobs Held By Opticians

Retail Eyewear Establishments

Opticians can work in bigger retail settings like the ones in department stores, general merchandise stores, or health care stores which offer a greater amount of positions. Depending on the size of the store, these opticians generally get decent pay and benefits. According to the BLS for May of 2008, the hourly median wage for these three settings respectively were $16.85, $19.12, and $17.63 with health stores hiring the largest majority of opticians.

Private Practitioner

Opticians can work in the offices of private practitioners like ophthalmologist or optometrist who sell eyeglasses or are in need of a contact lens fitting helper. The settings for these offices are smaller than retail stores, and there is more interaction with the doctor and patients through administration and help with selecting, fitting and fixing of eyeglasses and contact lens related issues. 

HMO’s, Hospitals, and Clinics

Opticians can work in broader health care settings such as these three industries that tend to hire lower levels of employees but more skilled ones. Opticians in these settings generally make a higher wage than private offices and work is less retail-related but more support is given through explanation, repair, and other related services.

Management Opticians

Opticians can advance in larger settings and become managers as well. Managing opticians still have work related, to helping customers but also manage other opticians and have much more administrative duties of the entire office or store, such as improving customer service or establishing new merchandise deals. These opticians make more money because of the extra work and are usually promoted in-house through experience and training.

Self-Employed Opticians

Opticians may choose to open their own retail eye wear store which requires them to be owners, managers, and perform other positions as well. Depending on the store size, this could mean hiring other opticians, ophthalmic laboratory technicians, and other positions to fulfill any requirements. It takes more of an investment on the optician’s part to get started, but the amount of income could be significantly higher.

Teachers, Trainers, and Consultants

Opticians can also become teachers at colleges and universities, trainers for certain fields, or consultants to certain industries. There are schools that offer positions for opticians to become instructors or lecturers which offer decent pay. Some opticians choose to be trainers to aide other workers or students on improvement in the field. Consulting opticians are rare, but some management companies and others hire these opticians for research and insight on special topics.

Sales Representatives

Opticians who are lucky enough and have the necessary skill, experience, and connections can also become sales representatives for optical product vendors or wholesale laboratories. These opticians will sell everything from sunglasses to eyeglass frames to reading glasses. Opticians in this type of employment need up-to-date knowledge on products and need to keep up with new technologies. They also need to be ideal sales people who are able to talk and can easily answer questions potential clients may have. Opticians who are sales representatives tend to make a much larger income due to the nature of the business and commissions.


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