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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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 licensing requirements. 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 College. 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.

Continuing Education Courses

Opticians in South Dakota are not required to take continuing education courses, but some employers ask for them. Local universities and community colleges may offer opticianry or related classes that can help keep you informed about the newest developments in the field. The American Board of Opticianry also offers certification exams so you can stay current with your credentials.

No matter which path you choose to become an optician in South Dakota, it’s important to stay informed and take any available courses or workshops that can help you stay up-to-date with the industry. With a combination of a college degree, certification from national organizations like the American Board of Opticianry and experience gained from on-the-job training, you’ll be on your way to a successful career.

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.

National Contact Lens Examiners Exam

The NCLE Contact Lens Registry Examination is a multiple-choice exam that covers several areas of opticianry. It focuses more on contact lenses but also covers other areas, such as frame selection and fitting. This exam costs $200 to take and must be taken at an approved testing center. It takes about two hours to complete the exam, and those who pass receive a certification that is valid for three years.

American Board of Opticians Exam

The American Board of Opticians Examination focuses more on the technical aspects of fitting and selecting frames. It also covers lenses and contact lenses, optical materials and instruments, anatomy and physiology, optics and dispensing practices. This exam costs $250 to take and is offered at approved testing centers. It takes about three hours to complete the exam, and those who pass receive a certification that is valid for five years.

Certified opticians are in demand in South Dakota, making it an ideal place to begin or advance your career in health care. With the right education and training, you can pursue a successful career as an optician in the state. After all, when it comes to eye care, nothing is more important than having the best people working on your side.

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 10 percent. The state had 510 employed opticians in 2020 and is expected to have 560 by 2030, an overall increase of 50 positions that will need to be filled by qualified opticians.

Opticians working in the state in 2021 earned an average of $30,950 in annual salary and $14.88 in hourly wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Optometrists earned $102,510 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

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.