Becoming an Optician in Colorado
Working as an Optician in Colorado doesn’t actually 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]
Requirements for Working as an Optician in Colorado
Most opticians in the state work for doctors, optometrists or eyeglass retailers. There are no specific, state-level requirements for licensing in order to work in this field. However, most of these employers prefer to hire opticians who have had some education or training. One way to get training is to find an ophthalmologist, optometrist or optician willing to hire you as an apprentice. Another option is to complete a post-secondary certificate or degree program. Some 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 Career School. 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.
Optician Training and 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.
Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Colorado
The outlook for opticians in Colorado is great, with a growth of nearly 16 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. There were 1,710 opticians employed in the state in 2018, and there should be 1,980 by 2028. 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 2020 was $40,060. Ophthalmic technicians made an average salary of $39,490 in 2020, while optometrists earned $121,130 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|
Working as an Optician 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.