Becoming an Optician in Colorado
Working as an Optician in Colorado doesn’t require any formal education, but most employers look for candidates who have had on-the-job training or have completed a post-secondary degree or diploma, and with certification. As an optician you will work closely with customers, helping to select frames, fill prescriptions, and educate and answer questions about glasses and contacts. It’s a great career with a promising future in the state.[En Español]
Optician Certification in Colorado
While licensing through the state is not required to work in Colorado as an optician, employers prefer to hire candidates who have achieved two basic types of national certification in the field. An educational program should prepare you to pass the exams for certification, but hands-on training through an apprenticeship can also serve as preparation.
The American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners are associated organizations that certify opticians. They each offer an exam that proves individuals have the skills and knowledge necessary to work as an optician, both with frames and lenses and with contact lenses. Registering for and passing these exams is important for getting a good job in Colorado.
Prerequisite for Optician Certification in Colorado
You must meet the following basic requirements for the ABOC and the NCLE certification exams:
• Be at least 18 years of age
• Have a high school diploma or equivalent
• Have completed an approved opticianry program or have two years of experience in the field.
If you have already graduated from an approved opticianry program, you can take the exams right away. However, if you don’t have a diploma or degree in opticianry and are looking to gain the necessary experience for certification, Colorado offers apprenticeships through the Department of Regulatory Agencies that last one to two years and involve on-the-job training with an experienced master optician.
Optician Certification Training Programs
Some optician certification training programs available in Colorado are:
- Emily Griffith Technical College, Denver. Students in and around Denver can enroll in the dispensing optician program at Emily Griffith. This short program is just 7.5 credits, costs about $765.00, and takes less than a year to complete. It teaches students what they need to know to begin a career as an optician, including how to dispense eyeglasses and contacts. Graduates will have everything they need to pass national-level certification exams.
- Pima Medical Institute, Denver. Pima’s Denver campus offers a program in ophthalmic technology. These medical technicians work with and assist ophthalmologists. They assist during eye surgery and work directly with patients during exams. It takes five semesters to complete the associate degree program and graduates are prepared to work right after graduation.
- Penn Foster College. Students in Colorado interested in this career but without access to one of the few campus programs for opticians can choose online learning. Penn Foster offers a comprehensive course teaching the basic skills needed to be hired in an entry-level position. Students are also prepared to take and pass the national certification exams for opticians.
Licensing Requirements for Opticians in Colorado
In Colorado, you must be licensed by the Opticianry Board of Examiners to practice as an optician. To qualify for licensure, you’ll need to complete a board-approved program in opticianry and pass both the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) exams. You must also complete a criminal background check, fingerprinting, and an eye exam. Once you’ve been licensed, it’s important to keep up with any continuing education requirements necessary for renewal.
Outlook and Salaries for Colorado Opticians
The outlook for opticians in Colorado is great, with a growth of nearly 17 percent. This is as compared to the 4 percent overall growth in the field nationwide. There are and will continue to be a lot of positions that need to be filled by qualified professionals. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, there were 1,570 opticians employed in the state in 2020, and there should be 1,840 by 2030. Growth in jobs for ophthalmic medical technicians is also strong, at 29 percent, while careers in the state for optometrists are growing at a rate of 19 percent.
For salaries in the state, you can expect to make a good living in this field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for Colorado opticians in 2021 was $38,500. Ophthalmic technicians made an average salary of $38,420 in 2021, while optometrists earned $127,520 on average.
Salaries in Colorado by Occupation
|Profession||Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||1,210||$17.62||$36,650|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||640||$19.18||$39,900|
Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Colorado by Region
|Region||Total Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary||10% Percentile||25% Percentile||Median||75% Percentile||90% Percentile|
|Colorado Springs, CO||270||$16.31||$33,920||$25,550||$27,990||$32,710||$38,270||$45,850|
|Fort Collins, CO||80||$17.32||$36,020||$27,760||$31,390||$34,600||$37,720||$40,050|
|Grand Junction, CO||40||$17.16||$35,700||$27,960||$32,110||$35,820||$39,500||$44,870|
Optician Employment in Colorado
Job opportunities are abundant in Colorado for those qualified to work as opticians or ophthalmic medical technicians. With the right education and certification, you can expect to be hired by eyeglass and retail shops, hospitals, labs and clinics, optometry offices and private practices, and by physicians and ophthalmologists. In Colorado, the greatest number of opportunities will be found in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins, but all areas of the state will need trained opticians in the coming years.
Dispensing opticians, ophthalmic medical technicians, and optometrists are all important members of the eye care team. The need for qualified professionals in this field is growing rapidly in Colorado and now is a great time to pursue a career as an optician or technician. With the right education, certification, and hands-on training, you’ll be prepared to join a rewarding and in-demand career.
Private practice opticians in Colorado are often able to set their hours, make the most of their time and money, and have more control over their career. Private practice also has its downsides, but overall it can be an excellent way to make a living as an optician or technician.
Requirements for Working as an Optician in Colorado
In Colorado, you must be licensed as an optician to practice. This requires completion of a Board approved opticianry program plus a passing score on the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) exams. In addition to licensure, most employers look for those who have had some on-the-job training and experience in optical sciences.
Candidates must also complete a criminal background check, plus fingerprinting and an eye exam. In addition, employers often prefer applicants that have experience working with customers and other health professionals.