Opticians: Salary Overview
Opticians follow prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists to help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses.
They also help customers choose the eyeglasses or contact lenses that suit them best.
An optician’s job description typically includes receiving the customer’s prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, measuring the customer’s eyes and face and the distance between pupils, helping customers, adjusting eyewear, educating customers on how to care for their glasses or contact lenses, but also keeping records of the sales, and other business tasks.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for opticians was $37,840 as of May 2019.
This means that half of all workers in this profession who were employed in the United States earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on the level of education, skills, experience but also depending on the region, the size of the employer, and the industry of employment.
The bottom 10 percent earned less than $26,640 while the top 10 percent earned more than $60,840.
The 25th percentile for this occupation is $30,050, which tells us that 75 percent of all workers in this occupation made more than this amount.
While as an entry-level employee you will most likely earn a salary that is closer to the minimum for this profession, experience, and good customer service skills can help you earn a salary that is closer to the upper limit of the above range.
Optician Salary by Industry of Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opticians held approximately 73,800 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them working for offices of optometrists or for health and personal care stores.
The average annual wage reported by opticians who worked for offices of other healthcare practitioners (a field which also includes opticians’ offices) was $38,420 while those who worked for health and personal care stores reportedly made $40,850 per year.
Other industries where opticians may find employment are offices of physicians, outpatient care centers, general medical and surgical hospitals but also wholesalers of professional and commercial equipment and supplies, colleges, and manufacturers.
As of May 2019, opticians who worked for offices of physicians reportedly earned $42,660 per year, on average while those who worked for general medical and surgical hospitals reportedly earned $45,240 per year.
Opticians who were employed by manufacturers of commercial and service industry machinery made $49,290 per year on average.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying field for workers in this occupation was the industry of professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant manufacturers.
In this sector, the average annual wage reported by opticians was $61,840, more than 50 percent higher than the average across all industries.
There are many other factors that can help improve your earnings as an optician.
Although a high-school diploma and some on-the-job training can help you enter this occupation, earning an associate’s degree or a certificate from a community college or trade school can help you earn a higher starting salary.
Becoming certified in eyeglasses or contact lenses dispensing- a credential offered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lenses Examination- can also help improve your employment and earning prospects.
Some employers try to motivate opticians by offering them a commission on sales or bonuses, in addition to a fixed salary.
This can help increase the cash earnings of opticians who have good customer skills.
According to payscale.com, commissions can vary between less than $500 and more than $9,000 per year while bonuses usually range between less than $300 and more than $4,500 annually.
Some workers also receive a share of the company’s profit which can help supplement their earnings with up to more than $4,000 per year.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Opticians. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.