Becoming an Optician in New Mexico

An optician is a professional in the health care industry who helps patients and customers in optical retail stores, optometry clinics and ophthalmology practices find the right frames, fill their prescriptions and learn about their new lenses. This is a hands-on career that allows you to work with and help people every day. In New Mexico, this is a growing industry, so there will be many opportunities for work for those who are training right now and studying to become an optician.[En Español]

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How to Become an Optician in New Mexico

The state of New Mexico does not require licensing for working opticians. If you are interested in this career within the state, there are two ways you can achieve your goal. One is to find an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist willing to hire you for an entry-level position. Once on the job you will be trained and learn the skills needed to work as an optician. The other option is to complete a post-secondary degree or certificate program, which will provide you with all the knowledge needed to be hired as an optician after graduation.

Degree and Certificate Programs in New Mexico

While there are no requirements that opticians in the state complete an educational program or obtain a license, New Mexico does have one school with two programs that are accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation.

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, located in Albuquerque, offers students a certificate or an associate’s degree in Vision Care Technology. The degree program takes longer to complete and includes more advanced optical classes as well as general education courses. The degree takes about two years to complete and prepares students to work as opticians or optometry assistants, while the certificate program prepares students to work as optical lab technicians, surfacing, fabricating and mounting lenses.

National Certification for Opticians in New Mexico

No license is required to practice opticianry in the state of New Mexico, but employers may be looking for job candidates who either already have an education or who are prepared to train and learn on the job while not immediately working as an optician. Employers also may prefer to hire opticians who have passed exams for national certification. The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry and the American Board of Opticians are national organizations that provide exams opticians can take to prove they have the knowledge and skills to do the job.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in New Mexico

The number of jobs available for qualified opticians in New Mexico is growing and will continue to grow. In 2018, there were 360 employed opticians in the state. By 2028, there are predicted to be a total of 370, which means there will be many new positions for opticians who are training right now. This is a growth in the industry of over 3 percent.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opticians in New Mexico earned an average salary of $34,490 per year in 2020 or $16.58 per hour. A related career is ophthalmic technology and assisting, which in the state of New Mexico earned these professionals an average of $38,940 in 2020. Ophthalmic technicians work directly with ophthalmologists, helping assist with patients, exams, and surgeries.

Salaries in New Mexico by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing390$16.23$33,760
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians**$16.49$34,290
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians140$15.52$32,280
Optometrists220$48.35$100,570

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in New Mexico by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Albuquerque, NM140$17.31$36,000$25,940$29,540$34,930$40,450$49,710
Farmington, NM40$13.00$27,040$19,070$20,720$22,870$26,130$52,900
Santa Fe, NM**$17.90$37,230$27,160$29,780$34,950$41,050$49,680

Working as an Optician in New Mexico

With so many opportunities opening up in the state in the coming years, becoming an optician in New Mexico is a great career move. You can expect to work with optometrists or ophthalmologists. The most common type of employment for opticians is in optometry practices, but many work with physicians. You may also work for a retail store that handles lens prescriptions and sells frames, or you may be hired in hospitals or clinics. Most opportunities in New Mexico will be in the larger population centers, especially in and around Albuquerque.

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College Programs

Albuquerque, NM Area

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

9169 Coors Blvd NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87120-3101
(505) 346-2347
Optical Laboratory Technology – Certificate Program, Vision Care Technology – Associate Program

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Albuquerque in Bernalillo County, NM. Most of the school’s 402 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition is broadly in the order of $1,095 yearly, while study materials may cost about $825, depending on the program.

* 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 (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm directly with college before applying.

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