Becoming an Optician in Wisconsin
If you’re looking for a career in Wisconsin that involves helping people, that is in the health care industry and that won’t take years of school to achieve, consider working as an optician. Growth in careers for opticians is strong in the state right now, and there are no licensing requirements. Just a couple of years of learning and hands-on training, and you can work in this enjoyable and lucrative career helping eye care patients with their lenses and frames.[En Español]
How to Become an Optician in Wisconsin
The prerequisite for starting a career as an optician is a high school diploma or GED. You’ll also need to take a course in a basic opticianry including ocular anatomy and get some hands-on technical training at an approved institution, such as the Wisconsin College of Optometry or the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Opticians working in Wisconsin do not have to be licensed by the state, although employers may have specific requirements for hiring. One way to become qualified to work as an optician is to be hired by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and work in an entry-level position as you learn and are trained to be an optician. Another option is to complete a post-secondary program in opticianry or optometry technology. These programs give you the skills and knowledge needed to be hired and begin working as an optician or technician after graduating.
Optician Certification Training Programs
Although the state does not have requirements for training, education, or licensing for opticians, many people choose to complete a post-secondary program to get the knowledge needed for this career and to be a more desirable candidate for employers, even from an accredited optometric college. There are a couple of appropriate programs in Wisconsin:
- Madison Area Technical College. At Madison Tech, students can complete a one-year technical diploma to train as optometric technicians. The coursework is focused on training students to work as ophthalmology technicians and assistants, but also on the work of opticians. This includes choosing and adjusting frames, educating patients about contact lenses, and other important skills. Request enrollment information directly from the school.
- Milwaukee Area Technical College. At the downtown Milwaukee campus, students may enroll in and complete a technical diploma program in an optician and vision care studies. It is a program that trains students to measure patients for frames, fit and adjust frames, grind and polish lenses, and other skills opticians need. There are 27 credits of coursework to complete. Request enrollment information directly from the school.
Continuing education courses may also be taken to stay current on the latest techniques, technology, and trends.
National Optician Certification in Wisconsin
Students who complete one of the above programs should be prepared to pass the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry Examination and the American Board of Opticians examination. These are the premier national certification exams for opticians, and while they are not required by the state of Wisconsin, many employers do require that their opticians have passed these tests to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
National Contact Lens Examiners Exam
The NCLE exam is a two-hour test that contains 100 multiple-choice questions. It tests on topics like anatomy and physiology, contact lens materials and designs, fitting of contact lenses, and troubleshooting contact lenses. The fee for the exam is $225.
American Board of Opticians Exam
The American Board of Opticians examination covers topics like contact lenses, frames, lensometry, vision care products and services, and other essential opticianry skills. This two-hour test contains 150 multiple-choice questions. The fee for the exam is $250.
Once you have completed education or training in opticianry, passed both of these exams and been hired by an optician or ophthalmologist, you can begin your career as an optician in Wisconsin. There may also be additional requirements for a Wisconsin optician license depending on the county where you are working. It’s important to consult with local officials and employers about specific regulations and requirements for this career in Wisconsin.
Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in Wisconsin
Growth is very strong in Wisconsin for optician careers. If you are training now you can expect there to be several job opportunities over the next several years. In 2020, 1,410 opticians were working in the state. This is the same growth rate and represents over 120 new jobs that will be available for qualified applicants.
New opticians in Wisconsin can also look forward to earning a good living. While the average annual salary range was between $37,510
and $49,010 in 2021, there are opportunities to earn more than that with more experience and depending on the employer. Students who train to become ophthalmic medical technicians can expect an average annual salary of $39,870.
Salaries in Wisconsin by Occupation
|Profession||Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Wage|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||1,170||$19.85||$41,290|
|Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians||680||$15.13||$31,480|
Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in Wisconsin by Region
|Region||Total Employment||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary||10% Percentile||25% Percentile||Median||75% Percentile||90% Percentile|
|Eau Claire, WI||70||$16.75||$34,840||$21,940||$26,170||$35,670||$43,690||$48,010|
|Fond du Lac, WI||30||$16.52||$34,370||$23,470||$27,550||$33,730||$41,820||$47,750|
|Green Bay, WI||140||$12.86||$26,750||$20,340||$21,980||$24,830||$30,490||$36,950|
|La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN||80||$12.79||$26,600||$16,820||$18,490||$23,530||$32,380||$44,200|
|Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI||**||$15.66||$32,570||$18,350||$22,380||$33,240||$41,270||$48,410|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||1,070||$20.51||$42,670||$31,270||$34,770||$40,530||$50,650||$59,650|
Working as an Optician in Wisconsin
Opticians trained in Wisconsin can expect to have their pick of jobs in the coming years. While the most opportunities will be in and around larger cities, like Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay, opticians are needed in all areas of the state. Unique duties required of Wisconsin opticians may include designing and fitting frames, training patients on how to wear and care for their contacts, writing prescriptions for eyeglasses, and offering quality vision care services.
The most common employer for opticians is the optometry practice, where they assist patients with prescriptions written by the optometrist. Opticians may also be hired to work in physicians’ offices, retail stores that sell frames, and clinics and hospitals.
- Eau Claire, WI
- Fond du Lac, WI
- Green Bay, WI
- La Crosse, WI-MN
- Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan Division
- Madison, WI
- Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
- Wausau, WI
- West Central Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area
1701 Wright St, Madison, Wisconsin 53704-2599
Optometric Technician – Certificate Program
Madison Area Technical College’s Certificate-level Optometric Technician program is based at its campus in the city of Madison, WI. Of the 16,520 students, about 0% are postgraduates. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees are, as a rough guide, around $4,341 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $1,940, although this varies from program to program.
* 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 (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm directly with the college before applying.