|$ $600||$ $ $4,000||$ $ $ $10,000|
If you’re considering a career as an optician, it’s a rewarding career in that you can help with medical issues, and you will have a financially stable future.
Ophthalmic and optometry practices typically hire opticians but can work in retail stores selling vision products, clinics, and hospitals.
Twenty-three states require licensure, with the requirements dictated by that specific state.
All states require opticians to complete an accredited two-year associate degree program or a two-year job traineeship following the guidance of a licensed optometrist, physician, or ophthalmic dispenser.
Keep reading to learn more about the typical costs of becoming an optician!
How Much Does It Cost for an Optician School?
When pursuing an optician’s degree or diploma, schools offer two options: a one-year diploma and a two-year accredited associate degree program.
The diploma typically costs between $600 and $4,000, whereas the associate degree can run from $4,000 to over $10,000.
The cost is based on numerous factors, including location, residence, school type, learning environment, accreditation, reputation, and curriculum requirements.
It’s important to note that these are general tuition costs and don’t include books and supplies, which average between $300 and $800 per year.
How Much Does an Optician License Cost?
Optician program graduates who are required or wish to hold a license must take the Contact Lens Registry Examination (NCLE) or National Opticianry Competency Exam (NOCE), offered by the American Board of Opticianry.
The NCLE is a 150-question exam evaluating all contact lens knowledge and related topics.
Participants must be enrolled in or have completed a contact lens fitting program and score 70 percent or higher to pass.
This certification cost is also $150.
The ABO certification exam comprises 120 questions that evaluate opticianry knowledge plus related topics.
To pass, participants must reach 70 percent or higher.
This examination costs $150.
Additional study guides are available for up to $400.
It’s important to note that some states don’t require licensure; some require one, and others require both.
What Are the Additional Costs After Becoming an Optician?
The primary equipment opticians use is the ophthalmoscope, an instrument that examines the interior structures of the eye.
This tool comprises a mirror reflecting light into the central hole of the eye, which can then be analyzed.
All vision centers, hospitals, and eye specialty offices have this and other equipment for assessing vision, so opticians aren’t subjected to additional costs after certification.
Is Becoming an Optician a Good Investment?
Becoming an optician is an excellent financial and time investment, as the benefits are plentiful.
First, opticians have an excellent work-life balance comprising a typical 40-hour work week, mostly during regular business hours.
Working weekends and nights is a rarity, which provides tremendous flexibility for time with friends and family.
Second, opticians rarely encounter safety hazards compared to other healthcare positions.
Third, opticians have a highly positive impact on patients as they are helping to improve their vision and overall health.
Fourth, opticians can work across various medical facilities, including hospitals, private practices, retail stores, and specialty clinics.
Opticians can also work for the government or military, providing visual care.
Fifth, these medical professionals have an excellent opportunity to develop relationships with patients during their specialized and routine eye exams.
Finally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will grow around nine percent by 2030, which gives opticians many employment opportunities throughout their careers.
What Are the Different School Types?
There are plenty of schools across the U.S. that offer an optician program or related field.
For those seeking the quickest path to employment, many community colleges offer a one-year certificate program that focuses on foundational courses.
Budding opticians who want more knowledge and experience can enroll in an associate degree program also offered by community colleges, which requires a two-year commitment.
No trade schools offer this optician program, so it’s limited to colleges and some universities.
Many schools have converted their optician programs to hybrid instruction or entirely online.
The option still exists to complete the program in the traditional, in-class format for those who need that structure.
Depending on the educational path you seek, an optician program can cost from as little as $600 to over $10,000.
Graduates then need to seek licensure if working in one of the 23 states that require it.
The NCLE and NOCE opportunities cost $150 for the exam and require a score of 70 percent to pass.
Post licensure, no additional costs are necessary for opticians since the employer will cover the cost of all equipment.
Becoming an optician is an excellent return on time and financial investment because there’s an excellent work-life balance, few safety hazards, an incredible impact on patients, the ability to work in various medical settings and develop strong patient relationships, and many employment opportunities.
For those looking to enter the field, many community colleges and universities offer optician programs in traditional, hybrid, and entirely online formats.