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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Licensing 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.

Optician 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 opticianry 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 Career School offers a set of opticianry courses taking place entirely online. This would be ideal for those looking to set their own schedule and complete courses at their own pace. Penn Foster’s Optician 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.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Illinois

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that opticians in Illinois earned an annual average wage of $36,770, which is equivalent to $17.68 per hour. During the same year, there was a total of 3,350 opticians working in Illinois. By 2024, the job market for opticians in this state is expected to increase by 16.2 percent.

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

Working as an Optician in Illinois

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

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.