Becoming an Optician in South Carolina

An optician is someone who is employed in the vision care industry, working with customers to fill their eyewear prescriptions, pick out and try on frames, and teach them how to use new contact lenses. Due to the nature of the job most opticians are friendly, outgoing people who have a genuine love for helping others. Opticians can be found working in an array of different locations, including private optometry and ophthalmic practices, hospitals and clinics, as well as retail optical chains.[En Español]

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Optician Certification in South Carolina

Before seeking an optician licensure in South Carolina you will first need to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, after which you can take advantage of two training options provided by the South Carolina Board of Examiners in Opticianry. To begin your journey to become a licensed optician you will need to either:

  • Complete a one-year certificate program or associate’s degree program
  • Complete a two-year apprenticeship under a licensed optician

If you choose to complete a two-year apprenticeship program instead of a formal education program you will need to be evaluated each year, on or before October 1st. Registered apprentices will also need to be documented for four hours of continuing education by October 1st of each year. Furthermore, apprentices in South Carolina are required to have a sponsor who is a licensed optician, an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Opticians in South Carolina must be certified through the American Board of Opticianry (ABO), taking and passing the ABO exam in addition to the National Contact Lens Examiner’s (NCLE) exam. Opticians preparing for practice will also need to take and pass the practical exam that is administered by the state Board, the South Carolina Practical Examination in Opticianry. The South Carolina Board of Examiners in Opticianry gives this exam twice a year, in June and in December.

National Contact Lens Examiners Exam

The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) exam measures knowledge and skill in both contact lens fitting and patient education. This exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions that cover the following topics:

• Anatomy of the eye

• Ocular pathology

• Contraindications to contact lenses

• Types of contact lenses

• Contact lens care and disinfection

• Patient education and follow-up

• Technical skills related to contact lenses

Successful completion of the NCLE exam is necessary in order to become a licensed optician in South Carolina. Once you have passed the NCLE, ABO, and SC Practical Exams you will be able to apply for an optician license in South Carolina.

Once you have received your license as an optician, you will need to renew it every two years by submitting the renewal form and fee to the Board of Examiners in Opticianry. Licenses that are not renewed before their expiration date will become inactive, and must be reactivated with the Board before resuming practice as an optician.

Optician Certification Training Programs

While there are no post-secondary schools that offer standard on-campus optician programs in South Carolina, there are online programs available to those interested in obtaining a certificate in opticianry.

  • Durham Technical College in Durham, North Carolina, offers an Apprentice Certificate in Opticianry by way of a combination internet/classroom-based program. This hybrid program requires some classroom learning, but the majority of this certificate program can be completed online, at your own pace.
  • Penn Foster College offers an Optician Exam Prep Career Diploma Program that can be completed in as few as seven months. Unlike the hybrid program at DTC, this diploma program can be fully completed online.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in South Carolina

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 1,020 people working as licensed opticians in South Carolina in 2020. Additionally, there were 800 people employed as ophthalmic medical technicians and 480  employed optometrists in the same year. Employment as licensed opticians in South Carolina is expected to grow by 18 percent through the year 2030.

The average annual wage for licensed opticians in South Carolina in 2021 was $43,000. Ophthalmic medical technicians made a similar average annual wage of $36,640 while optometrists earned an average salary of $95,540 for the same year.

Salaries in South Carolina by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing1,050$18.04$37,510
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians560$17.88$37,190
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians320$15.85$32,980

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in South Carolina by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC110$14.88$30,960$19,700$23,320$28,740$36,040$50,400
Charleston-North Charleston, SC130$16.08$33,450$17,810$24,640$32,000$39,350$54,680
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC580$19.06$39,650$28,520$32,870$37,900$46,800$54,960
Columbia, SC90$16.22$33,740$20,000$24,320$30,230$39,830$55,190
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC260$20.24$42,100$26,720$32,390$42,320$51,940$59,240
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC40$19.75$41,080$26,080$32,460$43,350$48,920$55,750
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC120$16.41$34,130$17,890$23,040$33,710$40,350$54,680
Spartanburg, SC40$19.13$39,790$25,080$33,640$38,690$46,950$55,260

Working as an Optician in South Carolina

Job opportunities for licensed opticians in South Carolina are expanding and will continue to grow for many years. Most opticians in the state are hired to work in optometry offices, private ophthalmic practices and retail stores that fill lens prescriptions and sell eyeglasses and contact lenses. While optical jobs can be found throughout the state, the cities of Charleston, Mt. Pleasant and Greenville offer the greatest number of new jobs for licensed opticians in private practices, offering competitive wages and standard business hours.

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