Becoming an Optician in New Jersey
If you have been thinking of embarking on a new career, becoming an optician in New Jersey is a fantastic move, especially since New Jersey is the second highest-paying state for this occupation in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This means that not only will you be transitioning into a rewarding career in which you will be helping others, but you can also expect a financially stable future if you remain in this field. Opticians are often hired by private optometry and ophthalmic practices, and they are also found working in hospitals, clinics, and retail stores that sell vision care products.[En Español]
Licensing for Opticians in New Jersey
Licensure is a requirement to work as an optician in New Jersey, where licenses are granted by the New Jersey State Board of Examiners of Ophthalmic Dispensers and Ophthalmic Technicians. Unlike other states that do not require any formal training, to be considered for licensure in New Jersey you will need to earn a minimum of certification in Ophthalmic Science or an associate’s degree. In addition to educational training, you will also need to complete an apprenticeship with a licensed optician. This step must be completed before you will be eligible to sit for the state board exam.
If your educational program is at the certificate level, you will be required to complete a 36-month apprenticeship with a licensed optician. However, if you opt to earn an associate’s degree, you will only be required to complete a four-month apprenticeship. The application process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
National Optician Certification in New Jersey
In addition to being licensed by the state, opticians in New Jersey can also become certified through a national program. The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) offers this certification, which requires an additional exam and can potentially increase your chances of employment or lead to higher wages.
Once you have obtained your license and/or certification, you will be able to apply for positions as an optician in New Jersey.
Also, the ABO exam is offered to those who pass the NCLE exam. It is a comprehensive certification program that focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to dispense eyewear, perform frame adjustments, contact lens fitting and adjust lenses professionally. Passing this exam will also add to your credentials as an optician in New Jersey and may give you more employment opportunities.
Optician Certification Training Programs
There are quite a few optician programs throughout the state, offering either certification in the field or an associate’s degree including:
- Camden County College. Camden County College offers a couple of options for those interested in becoming a licensed optician, including a two-year associate’s degree program as well as a certificate program in Ophthalmic Science. For those interested in the certificate program, prospective students will need to first take and pass a college-level mathematics course and a college-level English course before beginning the program, which typically begins once a year in September.
- Essex County College. Similar to Camden County College, Essex County College offers a certificate program and an associate’s degree program in Vision Care Technology. After successful completion of either program, students will be eligible to seek out an apprenticeship under a licensed optician. For students interested in the Vision Care Technology certification program, all work that is completed throughout the course can later be applied to an associate’s degree, if students are interested in furthering their education.
- Raritan Valley Community College. Offering an associate’s degree in Ophthalmic Science, Raritan Valley Community College is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation. The Ophthalmic Science program at Raritan Valley will prepare students for employment in retail optical stores, optometry and ophthalmology practices, and hospitals. During this program, students will learn to interpret prescriptions, fabricate and grind lenses, and fit, adjust and dispense eyewear to customers. The college offers a hands-on experience in its ophthalmic lab as an on-campus clinic, providing a solid foundation that will prepare students to take the New Jersey State licensing exam.
Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in New Jersey
The outlook for licensed opticians in New Jersey is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that roughly 1,370 people were working as licensed dispensing opticians in New Jersey in 2020. In addition to the opticians, there were approximately 1,870 people employed as ophthalmic medical technicians and 1,000 optometrists in the same year. It is predicted that the need for licensed opticians in New Jersey will increase considerably, by at least 15 percent by 2030.
Being the second top-paying state for licensed opticians in the U.S., the average annual wage for opticians in New Jersey was $61,380 in 2021. Ophthalmic medical technicians earned an average of $58,180 that year, and optometrists earned an average of $130,840.
Salaries in New Jersey by Occupation
|Profession||Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||1,290||$19.01||$39,550|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||470||$14.30||$29,740|
Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in New Jersey by Region
|Region||Total Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary||10% Percentile||25% Percentile||Median||75% Percentile||90% Percentile|
|Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ||**||$31.87||$66,280||$53,290||$59,570||$68,080||$74,630||$78,570|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||3,160||$27.43||$57,060||$29,180||$45,920||$58,120||$69,670||$78,920|
Working as an Optician in New Jersey
The future for licensed opticians in New Jersey is very positive with many opportunities for job openings and career advancement across the Garden State. While Newark, Camden, and Jersey City are major metropolitan hubs for jobs within the field, licensed opticians in New Jersey can be found working in a variety of chain vision centers, clinics, private ophthalmology practices as well as local hospitals throughout the state, so you should have no problem landing a great job.
- Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division
- Edison-New Brunswick, NJ Metropolitan Division
- New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
- Newark-Union, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
200 College Drive, Blackwood, New Jersey 08012
Ophthalmic Science Apprentice – Certificate Program, Ophthalmic Science Technology – Associate Program
Camden County College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program, and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in Blackwood in Camden County, New Jersey. The majority of the school’s 11,263 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The cost of tuition for in-district students is likely to be in the order of $4,320 and $4,440 and $4,440 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost about $1,800, although this will vary with the program.
Essex County College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Newark. This public college has in a region of 10,954 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Fees for tuition for in-district students are usually about $4,995 and are $8,790 and $8,790 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost in the order of $2,400, depending on the program chosen.
118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, New Jersey 08876
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician – Certificate Program, Ophthalmic Science (Opticianry) – Associate Program
Raritan Valley Community College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program, an Associate program, and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Branchburg in Somerset County. The majority of the school’s 8,099 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Tuition fees for in-district students are generally in the order of $4,416 and are $5,376 and $5,376 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost in the order of $2,400, although this will vary with 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.