Becoming an Optician in Georgia
If you are interested in pursuing a career that is in high demand and in which you help people daily, you may want to consider becoming an optician in Georgia. Dispensing opticians sell, fit and dispense eyewear to consumers. Optician jobs are on the rise in Georgia, with a 20.2 percent increase predicted over the next few years.[En Español]
Georgia is one of the 23 states that requires practicing opticians to be licensed. To become licensed as an optician in Georgia, you must first complete an educational program or apprenticeship and take two basic certification exams, as well as the state licensing exam.
Licensing Requirements for Opticians in Georgia
Licensing requirements in Georgia are handled by the Georgia State Board of Dispensing Opticians.
There are two certification exams that must be taken before you can take the Georgia practical exam to become licensed as an optician in the state. These exams are the National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) given by the American Board of Opticianry and the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) given by the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Completion of an educational training program or apprenticeship is also required.
The optical dispensing exam given by the state is administered only two times each year, and you must earn a score of 75 to pass. These licenses must be renewed every two years. You must also complete 10 continuing education hours to renew. The NOCE and CLRE certifications are required to be renewed every three years as well. Georgia does offer reciprocity for opticians licensed in other states, if the other state offers reciprocation for Georgia as well. You must also have been practicing for at least two years.
Georgia Optician Training and Apprentice Programs
If you would rather complete an apprenticeship than an educational program, the board requires that you have two years (3,000 hours) of experience and instruction before you can take the state license exam. You must work under the supervision of a licensed optician, optometrist or physician.
If you would rather complete a training program at a technical or community college, Georgia has a few that you can consider:
- Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers an eyewear dispensing specialist certificate, opticianry diploma and an opticianry degree. All three can be taken at the Valdosta campus location.
The eyewear dispensing specialist certificate program provides students with the basic skills and knowledge to work as an optician. The program consists of 29 credit hours. The opticianry diploma program is a little more intensive than the certificate program and consists of 59 credit hours. This program also includes a clinical rotation. The opticianry degree program consists of 71 credit hours and includes a clinical rotation as well.
- Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Georgia Piedmont Tech offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in opticianry. This program not only prepares students to work as opticians but to work in opticianry management as well. The program consists of 71 credit hours, and most AAS degree programs are usually completed in two years.
- Ogeechee Technical College. At Ogeechee Technical College, students have the option of completing an opticianry diploma or an AAS degree in opticianry. The diploma program takes five semesters to complete, and a minimum of 59 credit hours need to be taken. Additionally, 1560 clinical hours are required.
The AAS degree program consists of 71 credit hours. The general education credit hours can be taken at any time. The program courses are on a semester system, and students must start taking them during a fall semester. 1,740 clinical hours are also included in this program.
Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Georgia
There were 1,540 practicing opticians in the state of Georgia, according the May 2017 data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Optician jobs are predicted to increase by 15 percent nationwide over the next six years. Within the state, the predicted increase is 20.2 percent. In Georgia, the cities of Atlanta, Roswell and Sandy Springs employ 820 opticians, which is more than half of the statewide total.
The average hourly rate for an optician in Georgia is $16.67, and the average annual salary is $34,660. Salary will depend on experience and location. More experienced opticians may earn more income, and some locations offer higher salaries. The highest paid opticians in the state can be found in Brunswick, where they average $40,270 annually.
Salaries in Georgia by Occupation
|Profession||Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||1,500||$16.45||$34,220|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||750||$16.14||$33,570|
Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Georgia by Region
|Region||Total Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary||10% Percentile||25% Percentile||Median||75% Percentile||90% Percentile|
|Athens-Clarke County, GA||**||$17.07||$35,500||$25,510||$29,040||$34,180||$39,110||$51,800|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||820||$16.67||$34,680||$21,300||$26,610||$31,160||$44,240||$50,360|
|Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC||110||$14.88||$30,960||$19,700||$23,320||$28,740||$36,040||$50,400|
|Warner Robins, GA||**||$13.80||$28,690||$17,860||$20,570||$24,040||$36,610||$47,820|
Working as an Optician in Georgia
Although formal education and licensing are required to work as an optician in Georgia, you can become a licensed optician and be ready to work anywhere in the state within two to three years. As an optician in Georgia, you can anticipate assisting optometrists or ophthalmologists in their offices, private practices or hospitals. You may also work in retail stores, assisting customers with picking out frames and educating them on the use and care of their eyewear.
4089 Val Tech Rd, Valdosta, Georgia 31602-0929
Opticianry – Certificate Program
Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers various Certificate program options for future opticians. Classes are taken at their campus in Valdosta in Lowndes County, Georgia. Most of the school’s 3,708 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition are about $2,794 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,276, depending on the program chosen.
495 N Indian Creek Dr, Clarkston, Georgia 30021-2397
Contact Lens Technician – Certificate Program
Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers various Certificate program options for future opticians. All programs are imparted at their campus in Clarkston in Dekalb County, Georgia. Most of the school’s 3,908 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $2,920 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $2,970, although this will vary with the program.
Ogeechee Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in the town of Statesboro, GA. Most of the school’s 2,068 students are 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 $2,872 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $770, depending on the program chosen.
* 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.