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, to measure and fit them for eyeglass frames and to help patients learn more about their eyeglass 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

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 optician. The other is to complete a degree or certificate program in opticianry before seeking a job.

West Virginia Optician 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 prepares 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 paraoptometry. It includes coursework that prepares students to assist optometrists and is a good way to start a career in opticianry.
  • Penn Foster Career School. 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 program. It can be completed on each student’s own schedule and includes all the coursework needed to begin working as an optician and to be prepared to pass exams for national certification.

National Optician Certification in West Virginia

There are two organizations that 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.

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.

Opticians working in West Virginia in 2020 earned an average of $33,440 per year and $16.08 per hour. Ophthalmic medical technicians earned $29,160 per year in 2020. Optometrists earn much more, with an average salary in 2020 of $126,210, 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
Optometrists170$44.47$92,490

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. Opticians work in their practices 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 in 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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