Becoming an Optician in Arizona

Dispensing opticians are eye care professionals who work with customers to fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses and help customers choose their frames. This is a great career option for young people in Arizona, because growth in the field is strong, with jobs for licensed opticians expected to increase by nearly 4 percent in the coming years. You do have to be licensed in the state to work as a dispensing optician, but it is not a difficult career path.[En Español]

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Optician Certification in Arizona

Optician certification training programs in Arizona are offered at local community colleges or vocational schools. Most require that you have a high school diploma or GED, although some may also require additional certifications such as an optometry certification. Once enrolled in the program, students will learn a variety of topics relating to ophthalmology and opticianry, including contact lens fitting and design, eyeglass frame selection, and prescription interpretation.

  • Gateway Community College, Phoenix. Previously called the Maricopa Skills Center, Gateway in Phoenix offers students an ophthalmic medical assistant program. It takes eight months to complete, and the tuition costs are $4,180. The program prepares students for entry-level jobs working with optometrists and ophthalmologists, while also providing the skills needed to begin training as an optician.
  • Penn Foster College. For an online option, students can complete the Penn Foster optician exam prep diploma program. It can be completed at any pace, and the course prepares graduates to begin a hands-on training job as an optician to work toward licensing.
  • University of Arizona, Tucson. For students who want to earn a four-year degree and have the option to work as an optometrist or an optician, the University of Arizona offers a bachelor’s degree in optical sciences. This will be a more expensive and time-consuming option, but it does offer more career opportunities upon completion.

Optician training manual, written by the National Academy of Opticianry (NAO), is also available to help guide opticians to success. The manual covers topics such as anatomy and physiology for vision care, optical mathematics, and dispensing of eyeglasses. It also provides guidance on how to build relationships with clients and best practices for the practice of opticianry.

It is important for opticians in Arizona to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in vision care, and any new regulations or laws that may affect their practice. They should also continually upgrade their skills through seminars and workshops, as well as maintain a degree of professionalism through continuing education opportunities. With the right training, knowledge and attitude, Arizona opticians can provide excellent vision care to their patients.

National Opticianry Certification Exam

Once you have fulfilled the state licensing requirements, you may also choose to take the national certification exam. This is offered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and administered through Pearson VUE. The exam consists of a written, practical, and oral portion that provides knowledge in optics, lenses and frames, fitting techniques, eyewear design, as well as dispensing techniques.

National Opticianry Competency Exam

This exam is a state-specific exam offered by the Arizona State Board of Dispensing Opticians. This exam covers topics such as optics, lenses and frames, eyewear design, and dispensing techniques. The exam also includes a hands-on practical portion where you must demonstrate your skills in fitting glasses to patients.

State’s requirements prior to licensing for Arizona opticians include; an ophthalmic assistant certification or program completion, one year of work experience in the field, and successful completion of a comprehensive examination administered by the Arizona State Board of Opticianry.

Licensing for Opticians in Arizona

To become a licensed optician you may choose to learn on the job through an apprenticeship program. In that case, you need to find a licensed doctor, optometrist, or optician to hire and train you. Alternatively, you can complete an educational program and then work for one year in an entry-level job to qualify for licensing.

Licensing in the state is through the Arizona State Board of Dispensing Opticians. To qualify for an optician license you must have met one of the following requirements:

  • Hold a license in a reciprocal state
  • Complete an apprenticeship with a licensed optometrist or optician for at least three years over the past six years
  • Graduate from an approved post-secondary optician program and complete one year of apprenticeship
  • Successfully complete at least three years of work as an optician in a state that does not license opticians

Once you fulfill licensing requirements you can apply for a license. You must submit letters attesting to good moral character and proving work experience. You must have graduated from high school or hold a GED. You also must not have been convicted of certain crimes or have had a license revoked. Finally, you must also have passed the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry examination and the American Board of Opticians examination.

Optician Licensing Exams

The NCLE contact lens registry exam is a two-hour multiple choice test on the anatomy and physiology of the eye, contact lens materials, care and handling, and fitting of lenses. The American Board of Opticians examination is an eight-hour written, practical and oral exam covering topics such as optics, dispensing techniques, lenses and frames, fitting techniques, and eyewear design.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Arizona

The overall outlook for careers for opticians is positive. Nationwide, growth is 4 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Arizona that growth is nearly 25 percent. There were 1,080 opticians employed in the state in 2020, and there are expected to be 1,350 employed by 2030, with additional positions to be filled by those who are training right now. Growth for optometrists in the state is 34 percent, and for ophthalmic medical technicians, it is 40 percent.

The salaries are also great for these careers in Arizona. According to the BLS, opticians in the state in 2021 earned an average annual salary of $38,330 and an average hourly salary of $18.43. In other related careers, optometrists in 2020 made an average of $114,440, while ophthalmic medical technicians earned $34,330.

Salaries in Arizona by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing1,810$18.02$37,480
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians570$17.58$36,560
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians120$15.06$31,310

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Arizona by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ40$17.38$36,140$25,910$28,130$32,120$41,660$54,430
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ1,380$17.93$37,300$25,670$28,750$35,190$44,130$52,250
Prescott, AZ40$18.01$37,470$26,390$28,900$34,470$45,480$56,590
Tucson, AZ230$18.53$38,530$25,300$28,020$34,590$48,050$58,500
Yuma, AZ50$16.30$33,910$23,580$26,260$30,300$37,450$54,430

Working as an Optician in Arizona

There are and will continue to be, plenty of job opportunities for licensed opticians in Arizona. The bigger population centers of the Phoenix area and Tucson present some of the highest concentrations of jobs for these professionals, but employers throughout the state will be hiring opticians now and for several years.

Opticians work in optical chain stores and independent glasses and contact lens retailers. They are also hired by hospitals and private practices for ophthalmologists and optometrists. With just a couple of years of training, you could be in high demand as a licensed Arizona optician.

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College Programs

Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ Area

Midwestern University-Glendale

19555 N 59th Ave, Glendale, Arizona 85308
(623) 572-3200
Optometry – Doctor Program

Midwestern University’s Doctor program in Optometry is based at their Glendale campus in Glendale in Maricopa County, Arizona. Of the 3,295 students, about 100% are postgraduates. The university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $43,335 yearly.

* Tuition fees and colleges’ accreditation status are, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics ( Confirm directly with college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of Arizona may also wish to review their options in CaliforniaNevadaUtahColorado, and New Mexico.