Optician Training, Schools and Education

Before becoming an optician, those interested can take different paths; one by getting an apprentice position and learning on the job and the other by obtaining a degree from an educational institute. For those who choose the latter, there are colleges and universities that offer Associate of Applied Science Degree in optometric technology that prepares students with the techniques, methods, and technology needed for becoming an optician. 

There are 20 optician schools accredited by the Commission of Opticianry Accreditation. These accredited community colleges and universities have specific programs for an AAS degree relating to the field and include classes on particular subjects and clinicals.

The College of Southern Nevada is an example that has a two year program resulting in an AAS degree for ophthalmic dispensers. The cost of tuition just for 73 credits required to complete the program for 2009 was around $4,300 not including any books, fees, and other necessary items. The college has limited entry with a ranking system for applicants based on points earned through previous coursework, experience, and other criteria. Courses in the program include Ophthalmic Optics I, Ocular Anatomy & Physiology, Contact Lenses I, and Clinical Applications III.

Another example is the University of Indiana which has a two-year program in optometric technology leading to the Associate of Science Degree. The cost for tuition in 2009 for the 65 credit requirements is estimated at $2,878 per semester, equaling about $11,512 for the completion of the program not including books, fees, and other necessary items. The Optician/Technician curriculum includes course work on basic and ophthalmic optics, ophthalmic clinical techniques, lens surfacing, and clinicals on campus clinics in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Other schools have similar courses with different names with the same goal in teaching students the basics and more advanced topics relating to opticians, as well as hands on experience through clinicals.  A few schools offer online programs for opticianry and Hillsborough Community College is one that graduated 22 students in July of 2002 in a full online program. For more on course work read optician courses

After graduating, the last step is to obtain a job, get certification and licensing if desired or necessary. Getting licensed will often mean continuing education in new methods, techniques, and information through approved courses which can be taken by opticians in non-licensing states, as well as through the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners. The page Licensed Optician has more details on licensing and the Optician Continuing Education list some providers.

For a list of colleges and universities that offer degrees for opticians, visit the optician school list page.


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