Becoming an Optician in Utah
Opticians work in the eye care industry, working directly with patients and customers who need to get prescriptions filled, pick out and fit frames and learn how to use new contact lenses. In Utah, the industry is strong, and there is an ongoing need for more qualified opticians to fill positions. If you are looking for an interesting new career that involves working with people and using technology, becoming an optician in Utah is a great choice.[En Español]
How to Become an Optician in Utah
Many states license opticians, but in Utah there is no state licensing and no specified requirements for education, training or certification. But optometrists, ophthalmologists and others who hire opticians may look for certain qualifications. They may want to hire someone who has taken some classes in optical studies or technology, or they may be willing to take on promising entry-level applicants and train them on the job to begin working as opticians.
Seeking entry-level work and on-the-job training from an optician, optometrist or physician is one path to becoming an optician in Utah. Another choice is to find and complete an appropriate post-secondary program related to opticianry. There are no programs in Utah that specifically train opticians, but there are some other options:
- Utah Valley University. Utah Valley, in Orem, has a pre-optometry program. This is a degree program that is intended to prepare students to go on to complete an optometry program and earn a doctor of optometry degree. This can also be a good way to start a career as an optician, although it will take a few years to complete. Students who do so will be able to either begin working immediately or continue on to earn another degree.
- Utah Optometric Association. The professional association for optometrists in Utah has an annual convention that offers several single-day courses on topics important for opticians. Existing opticians can take these courses, but the lessons can also help those hoping to get into this career. Examples of courses offered include customer service, basic optical math and running a front desk.
- Penn Foster Career School. Another great option is to complete an online optician program, like the one offered by Penn Foster. It can be accessed anywhere in the state, and students can complete it at their own pace. It is a comprehensive program with courses that cover all areas of knowledge in opticianry. It also prepares graduates to get passing scores on national certification tests.
National Certification for Opticians
The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry and the American Board of Opticians both offer certification exams for eye professionals. These credentials are typical for opticians, although they are not required for professionals working in Utah. It is a good idea to get certified in order to be a better candidate for jobs with optometrists and ophthalmologists.
Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Utah
Anyone training now to become an optician in Utah can expect a very positive outlook for a future career. Nearly 600 opticians were employed in Utah in 2014. Experts predict that there will be 780 by 2024, and those future opticians are the ones who are training right now. The growth in optician careers in the state is 32.7 percent, which is faster than the national average.
Opticians now are earning a good living in Utah. In 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opticians earned an average of $32,560 per year and $15.18 per hour. This is a great income for a career that doesn’t require any formal education. A related career, ophthalmic medical technology, comes with an average annual salary of $34,090. And for those students willing to go on to pursue a degree in optometry, the expected average salary is $93,340.
Salaries in Utah by Occupation
|Profession||Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||310||$16.39||$34,090|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||570||*||*|
Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Utah by Region
|Region||Total Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary||10% Percentile||25% Percentile||Median||75% Percentile||90% Percentile|
|Salt Lake City, UT||350||$15.02||$31,250||$21,310||$25,230||$31,580||$36,680||$39,740|
|St. George, UT||50||$17.01||$35,390||$25,490||$29,270||$34,390||$38,890||$50,310|
Working as an Optician in Utah
Job opportunities for opticians in Utah are expanding and will keep growing for many years. Most opticians are hired to work in optometry offices and retail stores that sell frames and fill lens prescriptions. An optician may also be hired by an ophthalmologist to help patients in a private practice or other medical setting. The greatest number of new jobs in the coming years will be in and around larger population centers like Salt Lake City and Provo, but qualified opticians should not have a hard time finding a job nearly anywhere in the state.