If you have ever pictured yourself helping the members of your community to achieve better vision by fitting them with corrective vision devices like eyeglasses or contact lenses — this guide is for you!
America’s opticians are healthcare professionals who specialize in supporting Optometrists and Ophthalmologists with the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of common vision problems.
Their primary role involves fitting and dispensing corrective lenses and eyewear along with related tasks.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Optician Job Duties
- 2 Optician Salary
- 3 Benefits of Online Optician Training Programs
- 3.1 1. Online Training Programs Offer Convenient and Quick Entry into the Field
- 3.2 2. Online Programs Offer More Affordable Options than Traditional Learning in Brick and Mortar Schools
- 3.3 3. The Quality of Education for Online Programs Is Equivalent to Offline Education Options in Traditional Programs
- 3.4 4. Online Students Have Access to Abundant Networking Opportunities
- 4 Drawbacks of Online Optician Training Programs
- 4.1 1. Lack of Hands-On Experience Can Lead to High Error Rates on the Job
- 4.2 2. Technical Challenges Can Derail Your Entire Learning Experience
- 4.3 3. Limited Interaction with Instructors and Peers Can Leave Some Students Feeling Isolated
- 4.4 4. Limited Practice Can Result in Some Students Grasping Concepts and Challenges with Fitting Frames and Lenses
- 5 Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Optician Training Programs – Summary Table
- 6 What Courses Are in an Online Optician Program?
- 7 Can You Earn Optician Certification Completely Online?
- 8 How Long Does it Take to Earn Optician Certification Online?
- 9 How Much Does an Online Optician Certification Cost?
- 10 Types of Optician Certifications
- 11 Schools Offering Online Optician Programs
- 12 4 Self-Study Tips for Online Optician Students
- 12.1 Tip #1. – Create a Study Schedule and Commit to Sticking To It
- 12.2 Tip #2. – Join a Study Group to Network with Likeminded Peers
- 12.3 Tip #3. – Use Online Learning Resources to Supplement Your Coursework
- 12.4 Tip #4. – Take Advantage of the Instructor’s Office Hours, Email, and Contact Information
- 13 Final Thoughts
- 14 Frequently Asked Questions
Optician Job Duties
- Perform Eye Exams: Opticians can perform essential eye exams to assess overall eye health, binocular vision, and visual acuity.
- Measure Interpupillary Distance: Technicians take measures of PD to ensure that corrective lenses are correctly fitted.
- Fit Glasses and Contact Lenses: Opticians fit contact lenses and glasses for clients who need corrective lenses for low vision and common eye problems.
- Dispense Contact Lenses and Eye Glasses: Patients rely on opticians to select and dispense the correct eyeglasses and contact lenses to improve their vision.
- Provide Patient Education: Technicians spend a great deal of their time educating patients on proper eye care techniques and answering eye health-related questions.
- Refer Patients to Optometrists and Ophthalmologists: Opticianry graduates who begin working as opticians will often refer patients to optometrists and Ophthalmologists for serious eye issues and hard-to-treat conditions.
- Maintain Patient Records: Opticians must maintain accurate patient records, which include details about patient history, eye health, patient contact information, and appointment notes.
- Make Eyewear Repairs and Adjustments: Not only do today’s opticians select, dispense, and adjust eyewear and glasses, but they also make repairs and adjustments to eyeglasses at patient requests for comfort.
- Continuing Education: Certified opticians must maintain their credentials by staying on top of the latest industry trends, best practices, and regulatory compliance. Online programs and national certification agencies can provide more details on continuing education requirements.
Several factors affect how much opticians earn in the US.
Factors like location, employer, additional skills, and licensure are a few that can make the difference in receiving higher pay.
On the low end of the spectrum, US-based opticians make around $25,153.00 per year.
Opticians on the higher end of the salary range make around $50,361.00 per year.
Indeed reports the average salary for opticians is $35,591.000.
Benefits of Online Optician Training Programs
New students looking to begin a career as an optician will find a variety of benefits in online training programs.
Taking web-based coursework is an easy way to get certified as an optician from home and begin working in the industry upon completion of the AOB certification.
Following are a few more benefits of online optician training programs.
1. Online Training Programs Offer Convenient and Quick Entry into the Field
Taking optician classes online offers a convenient way for students to learn the tricks of the trade and prepare for passing state and national certification exams.
Online students can take classes at almost any time of the day or night, which works well for students with jobs, families, and career switchers.
2. Online Programs Offer More Affordable Options than Traditional Learning in Brick and Mortar Schools
Students who take Opticianry classes online can save on the costs associated with taking classes at a brick-and-mortar institution.
Online programs offer less expensive options for students as program providers pass on their cost savings on buildings and facilities to students.
3. The Quality of Education for Online Programs Is Equivalent to Offline Education Options in Traditional Programs
One of the best things about taking optician classes online is that the quality of the coursework is equivalent to that of offline programs.
Online training programs put students on track for passing state and national certification exams to earn their certification credentials.
4. Online Students Have Access to Abundant Networking Opportunities
Online optician students have tons of opportunities for networking with like-minded students and instructors in interactive classes.
They can also take advantage of online and offline networking opportunities offered by national certification agencies and attend local networking events.
Drawbacks of Online Optician Training Programs
While there are many advantages of earning your optician certification online, as with any program — there are also a few drawbacks.
Below, we discuss a few common drawbacks of taking optician training programs entirely online.
1. Lack of Hands-On Experience Can Lead to High Error Rates on the Job
Learning how to fit corrective lenses, eyeglasses, and contacts can be tricky with limited hands-on experience.
Working opticians who get training online recommend that students take advantage of clinical opportunities offered by their training provider or create their own experiential learning opportunities by partnering with local ophthalmologists seeking to hire new opticians.
2. Technical Challenges Can Derail Your Entire Learning Experience
Taking classes online means that optician students will inevitably run into one or more frustrating technical issues that can hinder their learning experiences.
Work with your program IT department or helpdesk to resolve technology issues related to compatibility, operating systems, or web server errors when logging in to take classes.
3. Limited Interaction with Instructors and Peers Can Leave Some Students Feeling Isolated
While taking online classes is a great way to start or change your career, many online students miss the camaraderie and engagement associated with taking in-person classwork where students and instructors are all together.
Online students can seek out local networking opportunities or take advantage of virtual networking events online to feel less isolated.
4. Limited Practice Can Result in Some Students Grasping Concepts and Challenges with Fitting Frames and Lenses
It can be challenging for some online students to grasp the concepts involved with fitting contact lenses and eyeglasses without hands-on experience.
Remedy this issue by taking advantage of online simulators or seeking partnerships with local ophthalmologists to practice your skills on the job.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Optician Training Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Optician Training Programs||Drawbacks of Online Optician Training Programs|
|1. Online Training Programs Offer Convenient and Quick Entry into the Field||1. Lack of Hands-On Experience Can Lead to High Error Rates on the Job|
|2. Online Programs Offer More Affordable Options than Traditional Learning in Brick and Mortar Schools||2. Technical Challenges Can Derail Your Entire Learning Experience|
|3. The Quality of Education for Online Programs Is Equivalent to Offline Education Options in Traditional Programs||3. Limited Interaction with Instructors and Peers Can Leave Some Students Feeling Isolated|
|4. Online Students Have Access to Abundant Networking Opportunities||4. Limited Practice Can Result in Some Students Grasping Concepts and Challenges with Fitting Frames and Lenses|
What Courses Are in an Online Optician Program?
Today’s online optician programs are designed to equip web-based students with theoretical and practical skills needed on the job.
These programs prepare students for passing national certification exams and generally cover some of the following topics as part of their curriculum.
Online Optician Courses – Examples
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye: Optician students learn about the basic anatomy and physiology of the eye, including how to identify critical components like the iris, pupil, lens, and retina. Additional topics covered include common eye diseases and treatments.
- Optics: The principles of optics, refraction, reflection, and diffraction are a few of the key principles discussed in optics classes for studying opticians. Students taking optics classes online will learn about topics including the nature of light, geometric optics, and physical optics.
- Ophthalmic Dispensing: Opticians learn how to read eye prescriptions and select corrective lenses in Ophthalmic dispensing courses. They also learn about tools and techniques for fitting and adjusting eyeglass frames and contact lenses, as well as how to fit and dispense lenses for contact lens wearers in their care.
- Contact Lenses: Students who take online optician courses that offer a contact lens option will learn about the different types of contact lenses available. They will also learn how to dispense contact lenses to patients, how to fit contact lenses, and best practices for prolonging the life of contact lenses through contact lens care.
- Patient Care: Communication, patient education, and adhering to legal and ethical standards for providing patient care are topics covered in patient care courses. These courses may also cover specialty topics for pediatric patient care, geriatric patient care, and low vision rehabilitation.
Can You Earn Optician Certification Completely Online?
A number of optician accrediting agencies approve online training programs that ready students to pass the American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners certification exam and become certified opticians.
How Long Does it Take to Earn Optician Certification Online?
Most students who get optician training online can complete their courses of study within six to twelve months.
Students who dedicate a full-time schedule to their coursework will likely complete their program faster than students who study part-time.
How Much Does an Online Optician Certification Cost?
The cost of online optician certification programs will vary by program, state, and instruction method.
Most programs will cost between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 with or without the required instructional materials like e-books, textbooks, and online lab access.
Types of Optician Certifications
Online certification programs prepare aspiring opticians to complete their certification exams with national and state-recognized agencies.
The following are the primary certifications sought after by aspiring opticians and US employers who hire them:
- ABO Certification: Students can earn the coveted ABO certification by completing an optician training program and passing the national exam.
- NCLE Certification: Prospective opticians can earn this certification by completing approved Opticianry training programs that include classes on contact lens dispensing and passing the national exam.
- State-Specific Certification: Check with your state to learn about local certification options for aspiring opticians.
Schools Offering Online Optician Programs
|Borough of Manhattan Community College||199 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007|
|Penn Foster Career School||925 Oak Street Scranton, PA 18515 USA|
|Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City||900 N. Portland Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73107 US|
|Florida International University||11200 SW 8th Street, MANGO 650 FIU Online Miami, FL 33199 US|
|Community College of Philadelphia||1700 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130|
|Optical Training Institute||715 Peachtree St, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30308|
|Durham Tech||1637 East Lawson Street Durham, NC 27703|
|Santa Fe College||3000 NW 83rd Street Gainesville, FL 32606|
|The University of New Mexico||1634 University Blvd NE Albuquerque, NM 87102|
|San Diego State University Global Campus||5250 Campanile Drive San Diego, CA 92182-1920 US|
4 Self-Study Tips for Online Optician Students
Taking online coursework to become a certified optician can be an exciting and challenging experience.
Prepare for program excellence by creating and adhering to good study habits using some of the study tips below.
Tip #1. – Create a Study Schedule and Commit to Sticking To It
Set yourself up for success in your online optician program by creating (and sticking to) a regular study schedule.
Create designated study hours to view coursework, prepare for exams, and attend study groups with other students and instructor-led group study sessions.
Tip #2. – Join a Study Group to Network with Likeminded Peers
Join an online or offline optician studies group if you’re a learner who likes to bounce ideas off of your instructors and peers.
Study groups can provide valuable information and networking opportunities for distance learning students.
Tip #3. – Use Online Learning Resources to Supplement Your Coursework
Most online optician programs offer a wealth of learning resources and study aids to help students succeed.
Take advantage of online learning resources, including e-books, video presentations, group study options, virtual labs, and online networking events.
Tip #4. – Take Advantage of the Instructor’s Office Hours, Email, and Contact Information
There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a challenging module with no support.
Be sure to take advantage of instructor office hours, where instructors are available to answer classwork and program-related questions for struggling students.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect when getting your optician training online, you should feel more confident when choosing the best online training and certification programs for opticians.
Do your research and choose programs that meet your current goals, lifestyle, and budget.
If paying for your online optician training is a concern, remember that many online programs offer tuition discounts, scholarships, financial aid, and payment plans for qualified students.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the current job prospects for opticians?
The job outlook for new opticians looks bright according to America’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says they expect job growth in this industry to increase by around three percent.
What are the requirements for admission into an online optician program?
Each program will have its admission requirements for students.
However, most programs will require students to have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent before accepting students who have reached the age of 18.
Do I need a license to work as an optician?
The BLS says that about half of US states require working opticians to have a license.
Verify the rules and regulations of your state to learn if you will need to obtain a license in addition to your certified optician credential.
What national agencies certify opticians in the US?
There is currently one primary agency that certifies opticians across the US, and that is the American Board of Opticianry and Contact Lens Examiners.
This national agency administers certification testing, hosts networking events, and provides recommendations for student learning resources.