Becoming an Optician in South Dakota

An optician is a great career choice if you are interested in a rewarding job that allows you to work with people every day. Opticians work with optometrists and ophthalmologists to assist patients with their prescriptions, frame options and contact lenses. They measure patients for frames, fill the lens prescriptions and sometimes do administrative tasks. In South Dakota, this health care career is growing at a rate of over 4 percent, providing great opportunities for those willing to train and learn.[En Español]

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How to Become an Optician in South Dakota

While many states do require that opticians meet specific educational and training requirements and get a license, South Dakota is not one of these. There are no official requirements and no licensing. Individual employers, typically optometrists but sometimes ophthalmologists, may set their own requirements for hiring opticians.

With this in mind, there are two main ways to become an optician in South Dakota. One is to find an employer willing to hire and train you, and another is to complete a post-secondary program in opticianry or a related field before seeking a position. While there are no programs in South Dakota schools specific to optician studies, there are a few other educational options to consider:

  • South Dakota State University, Brookings. South Dakota State offers a program in pre-optometry. This degree gives students the preparation needed to pursues a doctor’s degree in optometry, but it also can prepare graduates to work as opticians. It requires four years to complete but gives you options for your future career.
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City. The School of Mines and Technology also offers students the option of a preparatory program for studying to become an optometrist. It takes four years to complete and culminates in a bachelor’s degree.
  • Penn Foster Career School. For a less time-consuming and more focused option, try an online optician program. Penn Foster has online coursework that prepares students to work as opticians, and it can be accessed from anywhere in the state. The courses, which can be completed in as little as seven months, also prepare students to pass exams for national certification.

National Optician Certification in South Dakota

National certification is available for qualified opticians and students of related programs, but it is not required for opticians working in South Dakota. Becoming certified is a good way to prove that you have the knowledge needed to work in this career and may help you land a great job. There are two exams for certification recognized throughout the country: the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry Examination and the American Board of Opticians examination.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in South Dakota

Growth for optician careers is strong and positive in all states. In South Dakota, the number of positions is growing at a rate of 4 percent. The state had 540 employed opticians in 2018 and is expected to have 560 by 2028, an overall increase of 50 positions that will need to be filled by qualified opticians.

Opticians working in the state in 2020 earned an average of $33,270 in annual salary and $15.99 in hourly wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Optometrists earned $89,240 per year on average, a salary that reflects the additional years of study that are required to become a licensed doctor of optometry.

Salaries in South Dakota by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing430$14.79$30,770
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians70$15.61$32,480
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians40$15.39$32,010
Optometrists130$48.57$101,020

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in South Dakota by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Rapid City, SD70$13.63$28,360$21,550$23,990$27,500$31,120$37,760
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD70$16.30$33,890$24,260$27,570$33,480$39,770$46,840
Sioux Falls, SD150$15.02$31,240$24,390$26,860$30,250$35,710$39,550

Working as an Optician in South Dakota

The most common work setting for opticians in any state is in a retail shop or optometry practice where patients need to get lens prescriptions filled and select frames. Opticians assist patients and customers in these settings, providing education and guidance. Opticians are less commonly hired in medical settings such as ophthalmologist practices or hospitals. South Dakota is sparsely populated, so it may be challenging to find positions in many areas of the state. The greatest number of positions will be found in and around Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

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Neighbor States

Residents of South Dakota may also wish to review their options in North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.