Becoming an Optician in Florida

Opticians fill eyewear prescriptions, help customers pick out eyewear and inform customers on the care of their eyewear. This is a rapidly growing job industry in Florida, and the number of opticians in the state is predicted to increase by 30.5 percent over the next several years.[En Español]

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Twenty-three states require that opticians must be licensed to work within the state, and Florida is one of them. Opticians in the state are required to have formal training and certification before they can practice opticianry.

Licensing Requirements for Opticians in Florida

Optician licensing requirements in Florida are handled by the Florida Board of Opticianry. To become licensed, you must complete formal training in the form of an associate degree from an accredited institution or work as an apprentice for at least 6,240 hours. If you are already licensed in another state and have practiced opticianry for the past three years, or if you practiced for the past five years in a state that does not require a license, you will also be eligible for licensure in Florida.

Once training is complete, you can sit for the exams and become a licensed optician. You must take the National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) issued by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) issued by the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) within three years of applying for licensure or hold current certification in both. You must also be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

The Florida Opticianry License Examinations is made up of three exams:

  • The NOCE issued by the ABO
  • The CLRE issued by the NCLE
  • The National Optician’s Practical Examination (NOPE) issued by the National Commission of State Opticianry (NCSORB)

If you have taken the first two exams within three years of taking the NOPE, you must show that your certifications are current.

Florida optician licenses expire yearly on December 31st and must be renewed. In addition to renewal fees, you must also complete 20 hours of continued education prior to renewing your license.

Florida Optician Education and Apprenticeship Programs

One of the requirements for optician licensure in Florida is formal education or training. You can receive this training in one of two ways: by completing a certificate or associate’s degree program at a technical or community college or by completing an apprenticeship. Fortunately, there are many options in Florida if you choose the education route.

  • Broward College. At Broward College you can get an associate’s degree in opticianry or vision care technology. This program is offered at the Fort Lauderdale campus. Broward is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. This program consists of 72 credit hours spread over approximately two years. Broward College also works with several optical businesses in Broward County to give students externship experiences. Upon completion of this program, students should be ready to sit for the three exams they need to pass for licensure.
  • Hillsborough Community College. Hillsborough offers several options to students interested in opticianry. They have two certificate options: eye care technician and an ophthalmic lab technician. The eye care technician certificate consists of 48 credit hours, and the ophthalmic lab technician certificate consists of 24 credit hours.

There are also two associate degree program options at Hillsborough. The Associate in Science (AS) degree in Opticianry prepares students to fit and dispense eyewear through classroom and clinical training. Graduates of this program can take the licensure exams. The AS in Optical Management Technology focuses more on the management and administrative duties of this field. Associate degree programs can generally be completed in two years. All of these programs are offered at the Tampa campus. This college is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

  • Miami Dade College. Miami Dade College offers an Associate in Arts (AA) degree in pre-optometry, setting the groundwork for students to transfer to a four-year college and continue with a Bachelor’s in a science- related field and Doctorate in Optometry. This pre-optometry program can be taken at the Miami campus and can be completed in two years. Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

If you are interested in an apprenticeship program, rather than a certificate or degree program you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apprentices must complete 6,240 hours of training within a five-year period. This training must be completed under a licensed optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist. Furthermore, the optician must be licensed for at least one-year before providing supervision. Any education taken previously at an approved school of opticianry may count towards apprenticeship hours. Once training is complete, you can sit for the three exams and become a licensed optician.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Florida

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2017 that there were 4,900 opticians practicing in Florida, and that number is expected to continue growing in the coming years. In fact, Florida has the third highest employment rate of opticians in the United States. Within the state, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach hold the highest concentrations of employment.

The average hourly salary of Floridian opticians is $18.85 according to the BLS. The average annual salary in the state is $39,200. However, salary will depend on factors including training, experience and location. Opticians in more than 15 Florida cities and towns have an average annual salary that is greater than $39,200. Miami, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach are among those cities and towns. The highest paid opticians work in Gainesville where they average $47,520 annually.

Salaries in Florida by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing4,900$18.85$39,200
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians3,290$17.78$36,980
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians3,400$14.32$29,780
Optometrists1,780$51.54$107,200

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Florida by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL150$21.11$43,910$26,140$31,880$43,570$51,240$67,240
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL**$17.97$37,380$26,470$29,090$35,720$45,790$50,830
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL110$17.51$36,420$18,940$26,830$35,880$46,540$54,390
Gainesville, FL100$22.85$47,520$34,830$40,710$47,500$56,160$61,980
Jacksonville, FL260$22.06$45,880$25,330$28,380$34,960$46,560$59,570
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL90$19.44$40,430$22,830$27,170$42,250$50,480$58,700
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL1,520$19.31$40,160$23,370$29,020$40,570$50,670$58,540
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL50$20.83$43,330$28,020$34,260$38,900$55,260$62,340
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL170$19.69$40,950$27,110$31,340$38,250$52,320$58,960
Ocala, FL60$17.86$37,160$22,150$28,060$36,820$45,620$53,460
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL650$17.03$35,420$21,130$26,320$35,320$42,860$51,040
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL110$20.13$41,860$22,480$32,400$40,690$50,870$59,690
Panama City, FL60$17.53$36,460$26,540$30,190$34,950$39,560$49,570
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL**$18.35$38,170$26,670$29,740$36,310$46,100$55,060
Port St. Lucie, FL70$19.84$41,270$27,210$31,240$42,320$49,360$56,810
Punta Gorda, FL40$20.21$42,050$23,560$34,240$44,470$49,970$56,250
Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL50$18.04$37,520$27,230$31,470$36,510$41,700$51,490
Tallahassee, FL90$17.43$36,250$21,760$24,980$34,500$46,750$55,170
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL920$17.75$36,920$22,280$26,500$35,500$47,000$55,610

Working as an Optician in Florida

While Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm beach employ the most opticians within the state, there are several large eyewear retailers, hospitals and optometric practices in cities and towns throughout Florida to consider for employment. Depending on whether you choose to complete training at a community college or through apprenticeship, within two to five years you can be ready to take the NOCE, CLRE and NOPE exams and look for work as a licensed optician anywhere in the state.

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College Programs

Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL Metropolitan Division Area

Broward College

111 East Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
(954) 201-7400
Vision Care Technology (Opticianry) – Associate Program

The Associate’s degree program in Vision Care Technology (Opticianry) at Broward College can be taken at their campus in Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, FL. The college has around 43,078 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $1,415 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,502, although this will vary with the program.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Area

Hillsborough Community College

39 Columbia Drive, Tampa, Florida 33606-3584
(813) 253-7000
Eye Care Technician – Certificate Program, Opticianry – Associate Program

Hillsborough Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and two Associate programs. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Tampa, FL. This public college has around 26,571 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition are about $2,506 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,320, although this varies from program to program.

North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL Area

Manatee Technical College

6305 State Rd 70 East, Bradenton, Florida 34203
(941) 751-7900
Optometric Assisting – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Optometric Assisting at Manatee Technical College is offered at their campus in Bradenton in Manatee County, Florida. Most of the school’s 966 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition are about $5,053 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $904, depending on the program chosen.

Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Area

Traviss Technical College

3225 Winter Lake Rd, Lakeland, Florida 33803
(863) 499-2700
Optometric Assisting – Certificate Program

Traviss Technical College’s Certificate program is offered at their campus in Lakeland in Polk County, FL. The majority of of the school’s 825 students are on diploma programs of under two years. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees are, as a rough guide, around $3,251 annually, while books and supplies may cost about $500, depending on the program.

Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division Area

Miami Dade College

300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida 33132-2204
(305) 237-8888
Pre-Optometry – Associate Program

Miami Dade College’s Associate-level Pre-Optometry program is based at their campus in the city of Miami, Florida. Most of the school’s 62,332 students are on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition is generally around $2,838 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,600, although this will depend on the program.

Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL Metropolitan Division Area

Nova Southeastern University

3301 College Ave, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300
Optometry – Doctor Program

The Doctor’s degree program in Optometry at Nova Southeastern University can be taken at their campus in Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. Of the 23,236 students, about 80% are postgraduates. The university is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees for in-district students are generally around $29,880 and are $29,930 and $29,930 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Books and supplies can cost around $1,500, although this will depend on the program.

William T McFatter Technical College

6500 Nova Drive, Davie, Florida 33317
(754) 321-5700
Optometric Assisting – Certificate Program

William T McFatter Technical College’s Certificate program in Optometric Assisting is based at their campus in Davie in Broward County, Florida. The college has about 994 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The cost of tuition is broadly in the order of $3,720 yearly, while study materials may cost about $652, depending on the program.

* 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.

Neighbor States

Students may also wish to review their options in Georgia and Alabama.