How to Become an Optician in California

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How to Become an Optician in California

The demand for opticians in California is substantial, making it an attractive option if you have ever contemplated a career in the health sector.

Explore this guide to understand the requirements and steps involved in becoming an optician in California.

Optician Job Duties in California

In California, a substantial number of individuals rely on eyewear to address their vision correction needs.

Opticians guide their patients toward the most suitable devices based on their requirements and preferences.

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Opticians in the state typically undertake a range of tasks, including:

  • Interpretation of prescriptions
  • Preparation of eyewear
  • Fitting and adjustment of eyewear
  • Providing customer education on eyewear issues and maintenance
  • Maintenance of sales records
  • Determination of insurance co-pays
  • Management of inventory
  • Collaboration with lens-manufacturing labs

It’s essential to note that, contrary to misconceptions, opticians are not authorized to conduct eye examinations or prescribe corrective eyewear.

Optician Qualifications in California

California imposes stringent rules and regulations governing opticians.

Individuals interested in pursuing this profession have two primary paths:

  • Apprenticeship
  • Formal education

Regardless of the chosen route, obtaining a license is a mandatory step for independent practice.

Aspiring opticians in California must secure licenses from:

  • The American Board of Opticians (ABO)
  • The Board of Optometry in California
  • The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) – although optional

Additional requisites for opticians in California may include:

  • Possession of a high school diploma or GED
  • Attainment of at least 21 years of age
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills
  • A clean criminal record
    • This record is subject to scrutiny at both state and federal levels.

Optician Education Options in California

Prospective opticians in California must possess a strong foundation in mathematics and physics, making a degree from an accredited program a crucial aspect of their preparation.

These programs typically extend over durations ranging from 27 to 50 weeks, and occasionally longer.

The following institutions host commendable programs that aspiring opticians may find worth considering.

Charles A Jones Career and Education Center

This Education Center offers a concise program lasting 27 weeks.

Graduates will obtain a certificate of completion.

The tuition you’re expected to pay is $5,760 and it includes various other fees as well.

Students will have to also prepare some $300 for the books and needed supplies.

Students may also have access to financial aid if needed.

American Career College

This Career College provides a more extensive program.

The program has a duration of 9 months.

Attendance in a classroom is mandatory only 2 days per week, with the other days having online classes.

The total tuition for the program is $20,672.50 and it covers:

  •  2 non-refundable fees
  • Books
  • Supplies

University of California

This University offers various programs, including certifications and degrees, with the highest level being a doctorate diploma.

Through the program offered here, students get to work with 2,500 patients by the time they graduate.

This is achieved through the 400 hours of preclinical training.

School Name Address
Charles A Jones Career and Education Center 5451 Lemon Hill Ave, Sacramento, CA 95824
University of California 200 California Hall, Berkeley, California 94720
American Career College 4021 Rosewood Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
American Career College 3130 East Sedona Court, Ontario, California 91764
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Considering the diverse preferences of aspiring opticians, online programs are also available, provided they adhere to the criteria set by the Board.

Enrollment prerequisites vary among schools, with common requirements including:

  • Possession of a high school diploma or GED
  • Completion of specific classes with a minimum grade of C
  • Submission of two letters of recommendation
  • OAT scores (not exceeding 5 years old)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75

The curriculum of optometry programs covers a range of subjects, offering in-depth knowledge in areas such as:

  • Introduction to Optometry
  • Ocular Anatomy
  • Systems 1: Neuroscience
  • Ocular Microbiology
  • Ophthalmic Imaging
  • Public Health Optometry
  • Glaucoma
  • Physics

Optician Certification Process in California

To practice as an optician in California, obtaining licensure from both the Medical Board of California and the American Board of Optometry is essential.

This requires successfully passing exams:

  • The National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) offered by ABO
  • The Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) provided by the National Contact Lens Examiners

Both exams are available in English or Spanish and comprise three levels of expertise: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Exam fees, typically around $200, are often covered by employers, and the minimum passing score is 70%.

NOCE focuses on topics like reading prescriptions, fitting and dispensing spectacles, and using standard ophthalmic equipment.

On the other hand, CLRE covers:

  • Pre-fitting for lenses
  • Diagnostic fitting
  • Dispensing of lenses
  • Patient Education
  • Delivery
  • Follow-up.

When applying for licensure, individuals need to submit essential documents, such as:

  • Proof of identity
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • An application
  • The fee payment confirmation
  • A clean criminal record
  • Exam scores.

The California Association of Dispensing Opticians issues licenses for various roles, including:

  • Registered Dispensing Optician
  • Registered Spectacle Lens Designers
  • Registered Contact Lens Designers
  • Non-resident Contact Lens Sellers.

Regular license renewal, typically on an annual basis, is mandatory.

Optician Employment and Salaries in California

Prospective opticians in California can explore job opportunities in diverse settings such as stores, offices, optometry practices, hospitals, and clinics.

While salaries in California tend to be higher than in many other states, the elevated cost of living should be taken into consideration.

Factors including experience, location, and the number of certifications held influence earnings.

Average salaries in key cities across California can be referenced for a better understanding of the compensation landscape.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Santa Clara $66,600
Sunol $66,500
Alviso $66,400
San Francisco $66,300
Brisbane $66,200
Union City $65,300
Oakland $64,700
Alameda $64,600
Pittsburg $61,200
Santa Ana $59,200

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA170$47,520$22.84$63,510$36,400
Chico, CA70$52,380$25.18$81,750$36,420
Fresno, CA200$48,000$23.08$63,170$35,320
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA3,150$54,450$26.18$79,310$37,210
Merced, CA30$48,800$23.46$62,390$36,230
Modesto, CA130$50,660$24.35$64,440$35,480
Napa, CA30$53,770$25.85$66,270$36,630
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA180$51,860$24.93$70,620$35,370
Redding, CA50$43,510$20.92$56,580$31,920
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA870$53,950$25.94$76,480$36,410
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA670$53,960$25.94$75,650$36,370
Salinas, CA70$52,200$25.1$62,390$35,950
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA630$56,940$27.38$75,520$35,710
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA1,100$58,870$28.3$81,860$37,020
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA510$58,450$28.1$74,780$40,050
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA70$51,570$24.79$71,060$34,070
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA50$50,920$24.48$65,420$37,100
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA90$59,650$28.68$78,800$33,310
Santa Rosa, CA120$57,290$27.54$73,080$37,160
Stockton-Lodi, CA170$49,650$23.87$63,130$35,910
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA90$60,380$29.03$77,140$36,470
Visalia-Porterville, CA50$44,900$21.59$62,470$30,030
Yuba City, CA30$48,810$23.47$75,680$33,280
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Opticians, Dispensing, OCC Code 29-2081, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I stay updated on changes to the regulations regarding opticians in California?

Many organizations change their rules and regulations.

Here are some institutions that can help you stay up-to-date with changes in the industry:

  • American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE)
  • American Optometric Association
  • Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
  • Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
  • National Optometric Association
  • Medical Board of California
  • California Board of Optometry
  • California Association of Dispensing Opticians

Where can I find work as an optician in California?

Here are some of the places hiring opticians:

  • Stores
  • Offices
  • Optometry practices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics

What are the skills needed by an optician in California?

Opticians have the following abilities:

  • Attention to details
  • Good communication skills
  • Adaptable to new situations
  • Business skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Ability to perform repetitive tasks

USA Optician Schools by State

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