Becoming an Optician in West Virginia

An optician is an eye care professional who works directly with customers and patients. They usually work for optometrists, but they may also be hired to work under ophthalmologists. The role of an optician is to fill prescriptions for patients, measure and fit them for eyeglass frames, and to help patients learn more about their eyeglasses and contact lenses and how to use them. In West Virginia, opticianry is a growing profession with opportunities for those who are training for this career right now.[En Español]

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How to Become an Optician West Virginia

The prerequisite for starting a career as an optician is a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the employer, some additional education such as a college degree may be preferred. Those who wish to specialize in contact lenses must have additional certification.

After completing the educational requirements, opticians then need to complete a licensure process that includes passing an exam which is administered by the West Virginia Board of Examiners

There are no licensing requirements for opticians in West Virginia. The requirements for training and education are set by each employer when they hire opticians for their practices. The steps you need to take to become an optician depend on where you want to work. However, there are two basic paths you can take to enter the field. One is to get hired for entry-level work and train on the job for the position of the optician. The other is to complete a degree or certificate program in opticianry before seeking a job. License renewal for opticians in West Virginia is every two years and requires at least eight hours of continuing education during each license period.

Optician Certification Training Programs

If you would prefer to get an education before seeking a position as an optician, you will need to find a two-year degree or certificate program. Unfortunately, there are no on-campus optician programs in West Virginia, but there are some alternatives that can help you achieve your goal of a career in eye care.

  • Marshall University, Huntington. Marshall offers a series of courses for a four-year science degree that is considered pre-optometry. This program and degree prepare students to apply to a professional optometry program at another school. Optometrists examine and diagnose patients and write lens prescriptions. They have to complete several years of school and earn a doctor of optometry degree.
  • Southwest Virginia Community College, Richlands, Virginia. Just over the border in Virginia, this community college offers a 28-credit certificate program in paraoptometric. It includes coursework that prepares students to assist optometrists and is a good way to start a career in opticianry.
  • Penn Foster College. Although there are no campus-based programs specific to optician studies in the state, any student in West Virginia can access Penn Foster’s online exam prep program. It can be completed on each student’s schedule and includes all the coursework needed to begin working as an optician and to be prepared to pass exams for national certification. Request enrollment information at Penn Foster’s website.

Continuing education and professional development are important for anyone who wants to work as an optician. The American Board of Opticianry (ABO) offers programs that can help you maintain a competitive edge in the field, regardless of where your training took place.

Once you’re ready to find a job, there are many opportunities available throughout West Virginia.

National Optician Certification in West Virginia

Two organizations offer examinations to certify opticians: the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry and the American Board of Opticians. Neither of these is required to work as an optician in West Virginia, but they do show that an individual has the knowledge and skills needed for this career. Achieving certification can help you be a better candidate for the job you want and may help you command a higher salary.

National Contact Lens Examiners Exam

The NCLE offers the Contact Lens Registry Exam as a way to demonstrate that an optician is knowledgeable in contact lens technology and patient care. The exam covers topics such as prescribing and fitting lenses, eye anatomy and diseases, patient care, customer service, and more. It can be taken at any Pearson VUE testing center nationwide.

American Board of Opticianry Exam

The ABO offers the National Opticianry Competency Exam (NOCE) as a way to demonstrate proficiency in the field. It covers topics such as optics, prescription analysis, frame selection, and fitting, contact lens knowledge, and more. The exam can be taken at any Pearson VUE testing center nationwide.

Outlook and Salaries for Opticians in West Virginia

Growth in careers for opticians in West Virginia is not as strong as in some other states. A related career, ophthalmic medical technology, is growing at a rate of nearly five percent in the state. The future is bright for future opticians.

Opticians working in West Virginia in 2021 earned an average of $34,580 per year and $16.62 per hour. Ophthalmic medical technicians earned $35,000 per year in 2021. Optometrists earn much more, with an average salary in 2021 of $97,480, because they spend many more years in school and training to become licensed.

Salaries in West Virginia by Occupation

ProfessionEmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Wage
Opticians, Dispensing310$14.77$30,720
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians190$19.12$39,760
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians100$16.17$33,630

Certified Dispensing Optician Salaries in West Virginia by Region

RegionTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary10% Percentile25% PercentileMedian75% Percentile90% Percentile
Charleston, WV80$14.33$29,820$23,000$26,200$29,170$34,050$38,430
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV40$16.37$34,050$25,860$27,970$31,970$38,950$47,120
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH**$15.75$32,760$21,470$24,590$30,200$39,550$48,860
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV1,660$20.50$42,640$26,920$31,450$40,850$51,190$61,740

Working as an Optician in West Virginia

As a qualified optician or someone who wants to be trained on the job, you can expect to be hired by an optometrist. Clinical skills, customer service knowledge, and good communication skills are key to success as an optician in West Virginia.

Opticians work in their practices carrying out patient assessment, and helping patients with their prescriptions and frames. This is the most common type of employment for opticians, although they may also work for ophthalmologists in private practices or retail stores, hospitals, or clinics. The greatest number of job opportunities in the state will be in the larger cities of Charleston, Huntington, and Morgantown.

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