Becoming an Optician in Illinois

If you enjoy the idea of helping people with vision impairment improve their eyesight, you should consider becoming an optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist. Of these three professions, becoming an optician is the easiest and fastest process, since this career does not require as much education or training as optometry or ophthalmology. While optometrists and ophthalmologists write necessary prescriptions for patients, as an optician you would help patients fill these prescriptions by fitting them for the appropriate eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other vision improvement products.[En Español]

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Optician Certification in Illinois

Getting an optician certification in Illinois requires completing an accredited optician program. These programs can be taken at a community college or other educational institution, and are typically two-year associate’s degree programs that provide the required knowledge and skills to become a certified optician.

Once you have completed your training, you will need to take and pass an examination administered by the Illinois State Board of Optometry. This test covers topics such as anatomy, optics, and vision science. Upon passing the exam, you will be eligible for a state license to practice opticianry in Illinois.

Prerequisite for optician certification

Before enrolling in an optician program, there are a few prerequisite requirements to keep in mind. First, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition, some programs may require students to complete courses in chemistry and algebra before enrollment.

Optician Certification Training Programs in Illinois

Although it is not required that you have a certain level of education or experience to become an optician in the state of Illinois, taking optician courses will help you excel in this career. These courses will prepare you for the ABO-NCLE exam and can even set the foundation for a future career in ophthalmology or optometry.

Though there are currently no on-campus opticianry courses offered in Illinois, below is an online course that can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

  • Penn Foster College offers a set of opticianry courses taking place entirely online. This would be ideal for those looking to set their schedule and complete courses at their own pace. Penn Foster’s Optician Exam Prep Career Diploma Program can be completed in less than one year and will cost a maximum of $1,179 to enroll, depending on the payment plan you choose.

Licensing Requirements for Opticians in Illinois

Of the 50 states throughout the U.S., Illinois is one of 27 that does not require opticians to become licensed. Each employer, however, will likely have its own set of qualifications for those looking to work as an optician. You might find that these requirements will vary among potential employers, so it is a good idea to receive voluntary certification that will exemplify the knowledge and skills you have. The American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE) offers an exam for you to become a nationally certified optician. You must have your high school diploma or GED to be eligible to take this exam. Completion of opticianry courses along with at least two years of hands-on experience will help ensure that you pass the test.

Oftentimes, a voluntary certification such as this will show employers that you are serious about your career and could also result in higher pay.

American Board Of Opticianry

The American Board of Opticians (ABO) serves as the leading certifying body in the United States for opticians. It is responsible for setting standards and administering certification exams to ensure that opticians are qualified and knowledgeable in their profession. The ABO also provides continuing education courses for certified opticians to further their knowledge on topics such as;

vision science, contact lenses, and optics. By becoming certified through the ABO or another optician certification board, you will be able to demonstrate your understanding of the profession. It is also important to review the requirements set by potential employers as they may have different qualifications for their opticians. Taking courses and continuing your education is a great way to ensure that you are prepared for any job opportunities. It is important to keep in mind that certification does not guarantee employment; however, it can be an excellent way to present yourself as a professional and solidify your qualifications. The opticianry field is ever-evolving and staying up-to-date on the latest news and technologies is essential for success.

ABO Certification Exam

The ABO exam is comprised of both a written and clinical section. The written section focuses on topics such as optics, vision science, contact lenses, and anatomy. You will also be expected to know about the various eyewear materials used in opticianry. The clinical portion evaluates your technical skills related to fitting eyewear, reading prescriptions, and dealing with customer service. Passing both sections is necessary to receive your certification.

National Contact Lens Examiners Exam

The NCLE exam is composed of four sections: Contact Lens Fitting, Clinical Case Analysis, Ocular Pathology and Disease, and Contact Lens Materials. The topics discussed in each portion are designed to assess your knowledge of contact lenses, lens materials, and fitting techniques. Passing this exam will provide you with the qualifications necessary to fit patients with contact lenses.

In conclusion, opticians in the state of Illinois are not required to obtain licensure, but many employers require certification from the ABO-NCLE or similar exam. Fortunately, there are several resources available for those looking to receive their certification and become qualified opticians. Taking courses online is a great way to start your journey toward becoming an optician in Illinois.

Continuing Education Requirements

Continuing education is not a requirement to work as an optician in Illinois, however, it can help ensure that you maintain your certifications and stay up-to-date on the latest advancements within the field. Certified opticians must continue their training as there are frequent changes in technology and materials. You may want to look into specialized courses related to contact lenses, glasses, or specialty eyewear. Staying up-to-date on the newest trends and innovations will help you excel in this career.

Additionally, attending workshops and seminars can be beneficial for staying current with regulations and standards set within the optician field.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Illinois

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that opticians in Illinois earned an annual average salary of $36,590, which is equivalent to $17.59 per hour. During 2020, there was a total of 3,060 opticians working in Illinois. By 2030, the job market for opticians in this state is expected to grow to 3,220.

Salaries in Illinois by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing3,350$17.68$36,770
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians1,790$17.93$37,290
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians1,600$18.06$37,570

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Illinois by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Bloomington, IL110$12.55$26,090$20,080$21,340$23,430$28,370$38,350
Carbondale-Marion, IL80$17.85$37,140$25,360$31,330$36,780$43,860$49,400
Champaign-Urbana, IL70$19.00$39,530$21,990$26,710$33,770$43,500$59,390
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI2,380$18.54$38,560$21,430$25,520$35,110$46,430$58,580
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL80$14.29$29,720$22,140$25,040$28,990$34,630$38,560
Decatur, IL60$15.36$31,960$25,020$27,740$32,150$36,600$39,280
Peoria, IL50$15.26$31,740$25,580$27,340$30,270$35,980$40,460
Rockford, IL80$18.23$37,920$22,620$26,350$30,030$42,120$60,350
Springfield, IL100$16.48$34,290$23,970$27,270$31,440$38,020$47,730
St. Louis, MO-IL970$20.52$42,690$21,660$25,990$30,450$37,200$56,260

Optician Employment in Illinois

You can expect to find the highest-paying optician jobs in the cities of St. Louis, Champaign-Urbana, and Chicago, respectively.

Experienced opticians work as independent contractors in retail stores, optometrists’ and ophthalmologists’ offices, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. Some opticians also work with doctors who specialize in vision care to assist them in properly fitting patients for eyeglasses or contact lenses.

The Illinois Optometric Association is a great resource for opticians looking for employment. Work can be available in optometry offices, ophthalmology clinics, or retail stores that sell eyeglasses and contact lenses.

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College Programs

Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL Metropolitan Division Area

Illinois College of Optometry

3241 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60616-3878
(312) 949-7400
Primary Optometric Practice – Doctor Program

Illinois College of Optometry’s Doctor program in Primary Optometric Practice is offered at their campus in the city of Chicago. This is a full, 4-year private college with 647 students, of which 0% are undergraduates. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

* 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 ( Confirm directly with college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of Illinois may also wish to review their options in Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana.