Becoming an Optician in Tennessee

Overall job growth for opticians in the U.S. is strong, at 4 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But, in Tennessee, it is the same with 7-percent growth. This means that anyone learning and training to work as an optician in Tennessee right now will have a lot of great opportunities for jobs in the coming years. Opticians are eye care professionals who work with physicians and optometrists to fill lens prescriptions, educate patients, and help people pick out and use their frames.[En Español]

Search Optician Certification Training Programs

Get information on Optician Certification Training programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

Optician Certification in Tennessee

To work as a dispensing optician in Tennessee you must be licensed through the state Board of Dispensing Opticians. To qualify for licensing you can complete one of two options. The first is to complete an approved post-secondary optician program and to pass the exams set by the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry and the American Board of Opticians. The approved program includes classwork and hands-on training.

The second option is to complete a three-year apprenticeship program and pass the same exams. The apprenticeship must be completed under the supervision of a licensed ophthalmologist, optometrist, or optician. It must include a minimum of 5,250 hours of working and learning. Apprentices must be registered by the Board.

ABO Certification Exam

In addition to the state licensing requirements, many opticians in Tennessee choose to pursue additional certification from the American Board of Opticians (ABO). The ABO exam is a comprehensive national test that covers a variety of topics related to opticianry. Candidates must pass both the written and practical components of the exam with at least an 80 percent score. Passing this exam demonstrates a commitment to excellence and may make you more competitive in the job market.

Optician Certification Training Programs in Tennessee

While you can complete an apprenticeship program with any professional willing to take you on for training, there is only one school in the state that has an approved program for the educational path to becoming a licensed dispensing optician. There are other programs accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation that the state will accept, but they are in other states.

In Tennessee, the approved program is the associate of applied science degree in opticianry at Roane State Community College in Harriman. Students in this program can complete coursework in two years, and the classes include general education as well as ophthalmic courses, like dispensing, eye anatomy, contact lenses, optics, and ophthalmic materials. Admission to this program is competitive with just 30 spots per year available.

Continuing Education Requirements

Once you are licensed as a dispensing optician in Tennessee, the state requires that you complete at least 24 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) every two years to keep your license active. CEUs can be obtained through attending seminars, classes, or conferences related to opticianry or other eye care topics.

You can also get credits for writing articles, teaching classes, or creating videos related to opticianry. Tennessee Board of Dispensing Opticians has the final say on what qualifies as acceptable CEUs. With a license and approved CEUs in hand, you can be confident that you are ready to work in Tennessee with your career as an optician.

Featured School

Penn Foster College – Online Optician Exam Prep Career Diploma

Complete this program in as little as seven months. Format designed by board certified and state-licensed opticians. Opportunity to complete a practicum before graduation. The program will help you prepare for dispensing optician national certification exams, administered by ABO and the NCLE, by providing you with exam prep materials. Call 1-800-851-1819 today.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Tennessee

Growth for opticianry careers in Tennessee is very strong. The number of positions available for licensed professionals continues to increase. In 2020, for instance, there were 1,460 employed opticians in the state, and by 2030 there are expected to be 1,560, a growth rate of over 7 percent. Growth is also strong for related careers including ophthalmic medical technicians and optometrists.

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for opticians in Tennessee in 2021 was $37,510. The average hourly salary was $18.03. For ophthalmic medical technicians, the average salary that year was $37,070. For optometrists, it was $100,730. Optometrists earn so much more because they go through many more years of training and education to be licensed to examine and diagnose patients and write prescriptions.

Salaries in Tennessee by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing1,760$17.81$37,040
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians820$16.86$35,060
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians590$15.03$31,270

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Tennessee by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Chattanooga, TN-GA60$17.29$35,970$24,470$28,230$35,090$43,370$50,650
Clarksville, TN-KY60$19.66$40,900$24,370$29,120$40,210$53,590$59,680
Johnson City, TN50$16.16$33,610$23,310$26,980$32,090$38,650$47,940
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA70$20.04$41,690$27,930$34,150$41,890$49,730$57,140
Knoxville, TN250$17.73$36,870$25,610$32,540$36,740$41,720$48,470
Memphis, TN-MS-AR220$17.34$36,080$25,840$28,190$33,170$40,010$53,330
Morristown, TN**$13.40$27,860$16,200$17,420$19,450$39,800$50,060
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN710$18.01$37,460$22,690$28,400$39,970$46,240$50,010

Optician Employment in Tennessee

As a licensed optician in Tennessee, you will have many options for work as this career continues to grow. The most common workplace for an optician is an optometry office. There they assist optometrists by working with patients to measure them for frames, pick out frames, assign prescriptions, show them how to use contact lenses, and fill prescriptions.

Opticians should have the knowledge of Corrective eye care solutions, multifocal lens considerations, eye care practices and diagnostic fitting.

Opticians may also be hired by clinics and hospitals, doctors’ offices, and any retail store that sells glasses and frames. With just two to three years of education and training, you could be ready to land a great job as a licensed optician in Tennessee.

Search Optician Certification Training Programs

Get information on Optician Certification Training programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

College Programs

Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Area

Lipscomb University

One University Park Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37204-3951
(615) 966-1000
Pre-medical Studies – Bachelor Program

Lipscomb University’s Bachelor-level Pre-medical Studies program is offered at their campus in the city of Nashville, Tennessee. This is a full, 4-year private college with 4,680 students, of which 65% are undergraduates. The university is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is 84%. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $30,932 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,500, although this will vary with the program.

Eastern Tennessee Nonmetropolitan Area Area

Roane State Community College

276 Patton Lane, Harriman, Tennessee 37748
(865) 354-3000
Opticianry – Associate Program

The Associate’s degree program in Opticianry at Roane State Community College is offered at their campus in the town of Harriman. This public college has around 5,861 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees are usually about $4,143 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,500, depending on the program chosen.

Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area

Southern College of Optometry

1245 Madison Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38104-2211
(901) 722-3200
Optometry – Doctor Program

Southern College of Optometry’s Doctor program in Optometry is based at their campus in the city of Memphis, TN. Of the 528 students, about 100% are postgraduates. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

* 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 ( Confirm directly with the college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of Tennessee may also wish to review their options in Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri.