Becoming an Optician in Louisiana

Dispensing opticians are vision care professionals who fill eyewear prescriptions written by optometrists or ophthalmologists. They also assist people in selecting eyeglass frames, fitting them for frames, explaining care procedures, and instructing them on how to use contact lenses. The predicted growth rate over the next several years for this field across all states is 4 percent. Optician jobs in the state of Louisiana are expected to increase by 6 percent, which is above the national average.[En Español]

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The state of Louisiana has no licensing regulations for opticians; therefore, education, certification, and licensure requirements are left up to employers. Formal education and certification are not prerequisites for practicing opticians in the state, but those who have them are more likely to get hired and earn higher salaries.

Optician Certification in Louisiana

The prerequisite for getting a certification in Louisiana is formal education. Opticians must have a high school diploma or GED and complete an accredited opticianry program approved by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Once the optician has completed their training, they can take and pass the ABO exam to become certified.

Optician Certification Training Programs

There is no formal optician apprenticeship program in Louisiana. To become an apprentice, you must register as an apprentice through the Louisiana Workforce Commission and find an employer to sponsor you. While many employers prefer to hire opticians with work experience, some employers will hire non-licensed opticians for the sake of training them. You can look for open apprenticeships through the Louisiana Workforce Commission, and some job listings will specify that they are looking to hire an optician trainee or apprentice.

If you prefer educational training over apprenticeship, or becoming an optician is just a stepping stone for you on your way to becoming an optometrist, you have a couple of options:

  • The University of New Orleans. The University of New Orleans offers a pre-optometry program. This is not a degree program. This is a program that guides students who are interested in seeking an optometry degree. Before studying optometry, you must earn a four-year degree in a science-related major. This program assists students in choosing courses that are specific to their major and electives that will count toward their optometry degree. Math, English, and science courses are required. Economics, history, and social sciences are encouraged as electives.
  • Penn Foster College. If you would like to complete a program in which you will receive a diploma in opticianry, Penn Foster College does offer an online course. It can be completed in approximately seven months and can be done at your pace. If you are planning to get ABO-NCLE certification, it would be wise to complete this program first as it will prepare you for a lot of the material that will be covered on both exams. Penn Foster also has a payment plan for their tuition, where you can make monthly payments rather than paying a lump sum upfront.

Licensing and Certification for Opticians in Louisiana

Although there are no statewide obligations to be licensed or certified to practice as a dispensing optician in the state of Louisiana, some employers may prefer someone who at least holds certification. Opticians who are certified also have more job opportunities and make more money.

To gain certification, you can take the National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) given by the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). You must take both exams because the NOCE focuses primarily on glasses and the CLRE must be taken to dispense contact lenses.

These exams are offered four times a year and are offered at basic and advanced levels. The advanced level certification can only be taken once basic certification has been received and renewed at least once. The exams are offered in English and Spanish and take approximately two hours to complete. Testing centers in Louisiana are located in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport. Once you become certified, you must renew this certification every three years and provide proof of continued education upon renewal.

In other to fulfill licensing requirements, you can go through the licensing process in another state, or you can take the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam. You must have a high school diploma to take this exam. You must also be an apprentice or be enrolled in an educational program. The NBEO exam is divided into parts, and state requirements vary as to which parts you must pass to become licensed in each state. For a Louisiana license, you must make passing scores on Part I (Applied Basic Science), Part II (Patient Assessment & Management), Part III (Clinical Skills), and TMOD (Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease) as well as pass the injection test. The NBEO exam is given only once each year, and this license must be renewed annually.

ABO Certification Exam

The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) Certification Exam is the most widely accepted certification in the optical industry. This exam covers topics such as optical physics, patient care and communication, optical dispensing, safety and sanitation, optics of the eye, contact lenses, frame selection and fitting, and ophthalmic lenses. It is generally taken by those working in optical dispensaries, optometrists’ offices, and eye care centers, as well as those who wish to become certified in opticianry.

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Penn Foster College – Online Optician Exam Prep Career Diploma

Complete this program in as little as seven months. Format designed by board certified and state-licensed opticians. Opportunity to complete a practicum before graduation. The program will help you prepare for dispensing optician national certification exams, administered by ABO and the NCLE, by providing you with exam prep materials. Call 1-800-851-1819 today.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Louisiana

Louisiana has many highly populated cities, thus presenting a high demand for vision care and other health-related services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) most current data, 1,120 opticians were working in the state as of May 2020. The predicted 6 percent increase over the coming years should add at least another 90 jobs in the field. Of all the cities in Louisiana, New Orleans employs the most opticians.

The BLS data also showed that Louisiana opticians made an average of $14.26 an hour and $29,650 a year in 2021. Those at the entry level and with little to no experience may make less. However, opticians who are certified or licensed and have experience will potentially earn more. The cities of Baton Rouge, Bossier City, Metairie, New Orleans, and Shreveport all reported average annual salaries that were above $28,000. The Houma-Thibodaux had the highest annual average of $30,310.

Salaries in Louisiana by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing1,150$15.55$32,350
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians380$18.62$38,740
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians420$15.60$32,450

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Louisiana by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Baton Rouge, LA170$16.19$33,670$21,290$26,150$32,840$38,500$46,800
Hammond, LA90$14.59$30,340$18,290$25,130$29,450$36,350$45,380
Houma-Thibodaux, LA70$14.68$30,530$23,160$27,020$30,930$35,400$38,270
Lafayette, LA120$14.67$30,510$24,150$26,730$30,100$34,770$38,070
Lake Charles, LA50$14.14$29,410$19,500$24,770$28,270$34,110$42,780
Monroe, LA50$17.23$35,840$25,840$28,870$35,390$42,610$48,390
New Orleans-Metairie, LA380$16.66$34,650$26,270$28,460$33,200$40,950$47,110
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA70$15.77$32,810$25,390$27,570$31,390$37,480$44,370

Optician Employment in Louisiana

The Louisiana State Board of Optometry does not currently require opticians to be licensed, although there are some regulations in place such as minimum years of experience and completion of certain continuing education courses. Opticians should also check with their employer and local laws regarding any additional licensing requirements.

There are several different types of places to find employment as an optician in Louisiana, whether you are licensed or not. Some employers may prefer someone who is licensed, but many will also be willing to hire someone with no experience and train them. You can look for work with eyeglass retailers, hospitals, clinics, and private optometry or ophthalmology practices. If you choose to start as an apprentice or trainee, you could begin looking for work immediately. If you wish to take classes and become certified before looking for work, you could still be ready to work as an optician anywhere in the state in as little as a year.

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Neighbor States

See options in the neighboring states of ArkansasMississippi, and Texas.