Becoming an Optician in Washington

Becoming an Optician in the state of Washington will do more than just provide you with a stable, rewarding career with a competitive salary—you will have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Having corrected vision can elevate one’s quality of life, and as an optician you take part in this process. Opticians help customers select and fit eyeglass frames and contact lenses based on a doctor’s prescription or specifications, provided with good customer service skills.[En Español]

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Licensing for Opticians in Washington

Before you can work as an optician in Washington you will need to obtain licensure. Licensing exams are offered twice a year in Washington and are administered by the Washington State Dispensing Optician Examining Committee. In order to pass the exam, which includes both written and practical portions, you will need to receive a score of at least a 70 percent.

To receive a license, applicants will also need to complete at least four hours of AIDS education and provide proof of one of the following:

  • A two-year associate’s degree in opticianry
  • Completion of an apprenticeship program of no less than 6,000 hours
  • Five years working as a dispensing optician in another state

Licensed opticians in Washington will need to renew their license every year. The license renewal date falls on the holder’s birthday. Additionally, 30 hours of continued education is due every three years, and at least 15 of these hours will need to pertain to contact lenses.

Washington Optician Programs

There are a couple of on-campus optician programs available in Washington:

  • The Seattle Colleges — Central offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree in Opticianry. College-level English and mathematics will need to be completed as prerequisites before entering the program.
  • Highland Community College located in Des Moines, Washington, offers an apprenticeship training program for those interested in becoming licensed opticians. This program requires a commitment of 6,000 hours, which usually takes three to six years to complete. Graduates of this program will be eligible to take the state exam.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Washington

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 1,710 people employed as opticians in Washington in 2018. Additionally, there were 1,460 people working as ophthalmic medical technicians as well as 1,300 people employed as optometrists in the same year. The BLS predicts that jobs for licensed opticians in Washington will grow up to 20 percent through the year 2028.

Washington is one of the top five highest-paying U.S. states for licensed opticians. In 2020, the average annual salary for licensed opticians was approximately $44,640 according to the BLS. Ophthalmic medical technologists earned approximately $41,370 in 2020, and optometrists earned an average of $124,070 during the same year.

Salaries in Washington by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing1,280$22.07$45,900
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians1,610$21.07$43,830
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians560$17.66$36,730
Optometrists740$60.67$126,200

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Washington by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Bellingham, WA80$20.99$43,650$31,720$37,940$44,130$48,870$54,590
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA30$22.51$46,820$34,760$38,990$46,700$55,290$61,020
Kennewick-Richland, WA**$19.38$40,320$27,460$31,330$37,290$45,430$52,010
Longview, WA30$24.88$51,750$29,410$39,530$53,570$64,060$73,710
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA**$21.21$44,110$28,450$33,190$44,560$55,110$61,160
Olympia-Tumwater, WA80$23.01$47,860$28,720$33,870$42,460$55,100$69,290
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA770$20.07$41,740$30,320$34,010$38,490$50,900$59,870
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA450$24.22$50,380$34,540$44,360$53,220$58,780$62,120
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA160$19.41$40,380$27,480$33,740$39,730$47,410$54,520
Yakima, WA30$20.28$42,180$28,600$33,370$39,100$53,230$59,870

Working as an Optician in Washington

Being one of the top paying states for this career path, the job outlook for licensed opticians in Washington is excellent. It will likely not be a difficult task for licensed opticians to find employment throughout the state, though jobs in Seattle, Kingston, Vancouver and Everett are even more plentiful. Opticians can be found working in private optometry and ophthalmic practices and vision care chains throughout Washington, but jobs can also be found in eye clinics and hospitals.

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College Programs

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division Area

Highline College

2400 S 240th St, Des Moines, Washington 98198-9800
(206) 878-3710
Dispensing Opticians Apprenticeship – Certificate Program

Highline College’s Certificate program is taught at their campus in Des Moines in King County, Washington. Most of the school’s 6,560 students are on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The cost of tuition is generally in the order of $3,936 annually. Books and supplies can cost in the order of $840, depending on the program chosen.

Seattle Central College

1701 Broadway Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98122
(206) 934-3800
Opticianry – Associate Program

Seattle Central College’s Associate program in Opticianry is based at their campus in the city of Seattle. This public college has about 6,574 students in total, with most students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Fees for tuition are about $3,795 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $825, depending on the program chosen.

Spokane, WA Area

Spokane Community College

1810 North Greene Street, Spokane, Washington 99217-5399
(509) 533-8020
Vision Care Specialist – Associate Program, Vision Care Technology – Certificate Program

Spokane Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Spokane. The college has about 10,218 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Fees for tuition are usually about $3,460 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,134, depending on the program chosen.

* Tuition fees and colleges’ accredition status are, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm directly with college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of Washington may also wish to review their options in Idaho, Oregon and California.