Becoming an Optician in California

Opticians in California are often employed in optometry or ophthalmology practices, retail vision chains or clinics, where they work closely with patients and customers to properly measure, fit and select eyeglasses as well as contact lenses. With customer service being a major requirement of this career path, a majority of working opticians are outgoing, people-persons by nature— individuals who strive to make a difference in the lives of their customers, especially when it comes to making the best possible decisions regarding eyewear, whether it’s for eye health, vision or style.[En Español]

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Licensing for Opticians in California

Licensure is a requirement for opticians working in California and is granted by the Medical Board of California and The Board of Optometry. Formal education in opticianry is a California requirement as well, but the education requirements are not extensive. A diploma program, a certificate program or even an online program in opticianry, including the programs mentioned below, will suffice.

Upon completing an education program you will be eligible to take the necessary exams including the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) exam and National Contact Lens Examiner’s (NCLE) exam. These exams are offered twice a year. the ABO exam includes various levels for opticians including beginner, advanced and master dispensing optician. It’s not uncommon for opticians right out of school to take the beginner’s exam and work their way up as they gain on-the-job experience.

California Optician Programs

There are quite a few optician programs offered throughout the Golden State, but most of these programs can be found in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas.

  • The American Career College — Los Angeles offers a certificate program for those interested in becoming an optician. The school’s Optical Technician Certificate Program can be completed in as little as nine months and covers everything from conducting basic eye exams to filling prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists.
  • The Charles A Jones Career and Education Center in Sacramento offers an Optometric Assistant/Dispensing Optician program that can be completed in 27 weeks or 810 hours. Upon completion of the course, students will receive a Certificate of Completion as an Optometric Assistant. Additionally, graduates of the program can take advantage of the school’s job placement services.
  • The Penn Foster Career School offers an online Optician Career Diploma Program that can be completed in seven months. This program is similar to the other programs mentioned above, but since it’s an online diploma program students can take each class at their own pace.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in California

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 7,600 people working as opticians in California in 2017. Additionally, there were 3,280 people working as ophthalmic medical technicians and approximately 3,810 people employed as optometrists in the same year. The BLS predicts that jobs for opticians in California will increase by 18.2 percent through 2024.

As of May 2017, the average annual salary for opticians working in California was $42,270. Ophthalmic medical technologists earned approximately $40,510 in 2017, while doctors of optometry earned an average of $115,260 in the same year.

Salaries in California by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing7,600$20.32$42,270
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians3,280$19.47$40,510
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians2,430$17.69$36,800
Optometrists3,810$55.42$115,260

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in California by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Bakersfield, CA90$17.24$35,860$25,500$29,180$34,170$38,690$54,200
Chico, CA40$18.40$38,280$27,100$32,820$36,670$40,830$55,800
Fresno, CA160$21.17$44,040$28,860$34,300$41,880$52,970$62,320
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA2,900$20.15$41,920$29,440$34,100$39,190$49,020$59,430
Modesto, CA90$19.56$40,690$29,960$33,770$38,070$46,120$55,260
Napa, CA30$18.80$39,110$26,730$29,580$38,300$47,790$54,420
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA150$20.12$41,840$29,740$34,220$40,850$49,670$57,610
Redding, CA40$20.17$41,960$28,950$33,230$39,800$51,500$58,870
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA780$18.71$38,910$23,930$32,010$36,990$46,550$57,740
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA410$19.60$40,760$22,670$24,780$38,750$54,980$60,830
Salinas, CA80$17.52$36,430$22,540$24,510$38,570$45,890$49,720
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA440$19.61$40,790$26,560$32,840$38,350$50,590$59,150
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA1,130$23.29$48,450$26,390$34,400$46,040$58,920$74,810
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA440$20.53$42,700$23,500$32,720$42,850$53,680$60,900
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA100$18.67$38,830$27,990$32,440$38,290$45,930$50,330
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA70$21.07$43,820$33,780$38,310$44,260$49,260$54,470
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA90$16.49$34,290$26,230$28,120$31,310$37,900$49,330
Santa Rosa, CA80$22.34$46,470$30,980$37,780$47,870$56,500$61,210
Stockton-Lodi, CA100$18.23$37,930$29,850$33,160$36,640$40,290$50,780
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA80$24.28$50,510$29,040$38,880$54,200$61,090$65,290
Visalia-Porterville, CA60$20.32$42,260$28,350$32,950$39,040$52,190$60,120

Working as an Optician in California

The outlook for working as an optician in California is excellent, especially since the Golden State has the most employed opticians in the country, according to the BLS. While there are many job opportunities throughout California, the cities of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Sacramento employ the highest number of opticians. Opticians in the state are frequently hired to work in vision care chains and private ophthalmic practices, but can also be found working in clinics and hospitals.

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College Programs

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division Area

American Career College-Los Angeles

4021 Rosewood Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90004
(949) 783-4800
Optical Technician – Certificate Program

American Career College offers various Certificate program options for future opticians. All programs are imparted at their Los Angeles campus in the city of Los Angeles. The majority of of the school’s 1,543 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Fees for tuition are usually about $18,200 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $300, although this will depend on the program.

Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division Area

University of California-Berkeley

200 California Hall, Berkeley, California 94720
(510) 642-6000
Optometry – Certificate Program, Optometry – Doctor Program

The University of California-Berkeley offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and a Doctor program. All programs are taught at their Berkeley campus in the city of Berkeley, California. This is a full, 4-year public college with 38,189 students, of which 0% are undergraduates. The University of California-Berkeley has institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Tuition fees are around $14,170 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $891, depending on the program.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division Area

Western University of Health Sciences

309 E 2nd St, Pomona, California 91766-1854
(909) 623-6116
Optometry – Doctor Program

The Optometry Doctor’s degree program in Optometry at Western University of Health Sciences can be taken at their campus in Pomona in Los Angeles County. This is a full, 4-year private college with 3,876 students, of which 0% are undergraduates. The university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. The cost of tuition is broadly in the order of $23,502 yearly.

Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA Area

Charles A Jones Career and Education Center

5451 Lemon Hill Ave, Sacramento, California 95824-1529
(916) 433-2600 x1000
Optometric Assistant/Dispensing Optician – Certificate Program

Charles A Jones Career and Education Center’s Certificate program in Optometric Assistant/Dispensing Optician is offered at their campus in the city of Sacramento, CA. The college has in the region of 525 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $7,090 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $705, although this will vary with the program.

Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division Area

Marshall B Ketchum University

2575 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton, California 92831-1699
(714) 870-7226
Glaucoma Case Management – Doctor Program

Marshall B Ketchum University’s Doctor program in Glaucoma Case Management is offered at their campus in Fullerton in Orange County. This is a full, 4-year private college with 460 students, of which 0% are undergraduates. The university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Tuition fees are broadly around $34,662 annually.

Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA Area

National Career Education

11080 White Rock Rd., Suite 100, Rancho Cordova, California 95670
(916) 969-4900
Optical Assistant & Optometric Assistant – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Optical Assistant & Optometric Assistant at National Career Education can be taken at their campus in the city of Rancho Cordova. Most of the school’s 226 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Tuition fees for the Optical Assistant & Optometric Assistant program are broadly around $11,928 annually, while study materials may cost around $449. Usually, the program is completed in 8 months.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division Area

Hacienda La Puente Adult Education

14101 E. Nelson Ave, La Puente, California 91746-0002
(626) 934-2801
Optical Training – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Optical Training at Hacienda La Puente Adult Education is offered at their campus in La Puente in Los Angeles County, CA. Most of the school’s 4,115 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $3,330 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,350, although this will vary with the program.

Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division Area

American Career College-Anaheim

1200 N. Magnolia Ave., Anaheim, California 92801-0000
(949) 783-4800
Optical Technician – Certificate Program

American Career College offers various Certificate program options for future opticians. Classes are taken at their Anaheim campus in the city of Anaheim. Most of the school’s 1,383 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The cost of tuition is in the order of $18,200 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $300, although this will vary with the program.

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Area

American Career College-Ontario

3130 East Sedona Court, Ontario, California 91764
(949) 783-4800
Optical Technician – Certificate Program

American Career College offers various Certificate program options for future opticians. All programs are taught at their Ontario campus in the city of Ontario, California. This private, for-profit college has in the order of 1,521 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The cost of tuition is in the order of $36,150 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $450, although this will vary with the program.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division Area

American Career College-Long Beach

236 East 3rd Street, Long Beach, California 90802-3174
(949) 783-4800
Optical Technician – Certificate Program

American Career College offers various Certificate program options for future opticians. All programs are taught at their Long Beach campus in the city of Long Beach, CA. The majority of of the school’s 471 students are on diploma programs of under two years. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Tuition fees for the Optical Technician program are about $17,850 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $100. Typically, the program is completed in 9 months.

* Tuition fees and colleges’ accredition status are, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm directly with college before applying.

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