Becoming an Optician in Minnesota
Job growth for opticians in Minnesota is strong right now and should be strong for years to come, making this a great career choice for anyone looking for an interesting job with stability. Opticians work with patients, most often in optometry practices, helping them fill their contact or lens prescriptions, choose frames, fix frames, and learn how to use contact lenses.[En Español]
Optician certification in Minnesota
The prerequisite for getting certified as an optician in Michigan is a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. After completing the high school degree or GED, prospective opticians must then complete either an apprenticeship program or a two-year accredited opticianry training program, which combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience.
The state of Minnesota has no requirements for becoming an optician. There is no statewide licensing, and it is not necessary to complete any specific type of educational program to begin working in this field. Most employers, however, prefer to hire opticians who have either completed a certificate or degree program or completed on-the-job training, or both. To become an optician in Minnesota you can start by seeking an entry-level position and being trained on the job, or you can start with classroom learning.
Optician Certification Training Programs
There are a few options for the latter if you live in Minnesota:
- St. Catherine University. Located in the Twin Cities, St. Catherine does not have an optician program, but it offers students an associate degree program in ophthalmic technology. The program includes two years of coursework and one year of hands-on experience. This degree provides all you need to choose between a career as a technician or an optician.
- The University of Minnesota. The campus in Minneapolis does not have an optician program, but it does offer an optometry program. Optometrists conduct eye examinations and prescribe lenses. They may also work with ophthalmologists to assist patients needing surgery.
- Penn Foster College. While there are no campus programs in the state for opticians, students anywhere in Minnesota can complete an online optician exam prep program through Penn Foster. It provides all the coursework and knowledge needed to begin working as an optician and to be ready to take and pass national certification exams.
National Certification for Opticians
Anyone hoping to work as an optician in Minnesota may not need to complete any specific requirements, but it helps for employment opportunities to hold the appropriate national certifications. You can take the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry examination and the American Board of Opticians examination to achieve certification and be a stronger candidate for any job.
National Contact Lens Examiners Exam
The NCLE exam is a 120-question, multiple-choice test, which must be completed within two hours. It covers topics such as contact lens anatomy and physiology, fitting techniques, patient evaluation and management, lens selection and design, and product knowledge. A score of 70 or higher is needed to pass the exam.
ABO Certification Exam
The American Board of Opticians offers two levels of certification, registered and certified. The certified level requires 1,500 hours of hands-on work experience in addition to the completion of the ABO exam. The exam has 100 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within one hour and 45 minutes; a score of 75 or more is needed to pass. It covers the types of lenses and frames, fitting techniques, patient evaluation, lens materials, and design knowledge, as well as optical principles and regulations.
Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Minnesota
The outlook for optician careers in Minnesota is very good. There is currently a 6 percent growth in the number of jobs that need qualified opticians to fill them. There were 1,580 employed opticians in the state in 2020, and there are projected to be 1,680 more by 2030, positions that will require qualified professionals who are training for the jobs right now.
Opticians in Minnesota earned, on average, $44,430 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This amounts to $21.36 per hour, but there is room to earn more with experience and certification. Related careers also come with great salaries in the state. Ophthalmic technicians earned an average of $58,160 per year, while optometrists who go through much more education and training, earned $127,340 in 2021.
Salaries in Minnesota by Occupation
|Profession||Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||840||$23.45||$48,770|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||1,740||$15.77||$32,810|
Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Minnesota by Region
|Region||Total Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary||10% Percentile||25% Percentile||Median||75% Percentile||90% Percentile|
|Grand Forks, ND-MN||70||$13.72||$28,550||$21,560||$23,840||$27,750||$31,860||$37,470|
|La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN||80||$12.79||$26,600||$16,820||$18,490||$23,530||$32,380||$44,200|
|Mankato-North Mankato, MN||40||$18.69||$38,870||$24,420||$29,470||$36,130||$49,710||$60,760|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||1,070||$20.51||$42,670||$31,270||$34,770||$40,530||$50,650||$59,650|
|St. Cloud, MN||60||$18.73||$38,950||$31,300||$33,890||$37,920||$43,880||$49,140|
Optician Employment as an Optician in Minnesota
An optometry office or practice is the most common workplace for an optician, and there are plenty of these in Minnesota that will need qualified individuals in the coming years. Opticians are also needed in eyeglass shops, retail stores, hospitals, clinics, and the privacy practices of physicians and ophthalmologists. Regardless of the setting in which you choose to seek a job, you can expect to have plenty of opportunities, most of which are in the big population centers of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Duluth. Training now will put you in a good position to land a great job anywhere in the state.
100 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455-0213
Optometry – Certificate Program
The Certificate program in Optometry at the University of Minnesota is offered at their Twin Cities campus in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Of the 50,678 students, about 33% are postgraduates. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has institutional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees are broadly around $14,417 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $1,000, depending on the program.
* Tuition fees and colleges’ accreditation 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 the college before applying.