Optician Salary

There are several job titles in the area of eye care. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are medical professionals who treat eye problems with the complete range of medicine and treatment in a physicianís arsenal. Opticians, on the other hand, work specifically and exclusively helping patients correct their vision. They measure the strength of a patientís natural eyesight and fit them with glasses and/or contact lenses. They consult with frame designers on the needs of individual patients. They also assist their patients in adjusting and dealing with their eyewear. They do not have the strict educational requirements of optometrists and ophthalmologists. Consequently, the average optician salary is different from others in the optical medical field.

According to the most recent Occupational Employment Statistics, researched by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary of an optician is $34,800 per year, or $16.73 per hour. This is slightly above the average for all industries. This is based on the pay of all opticians working in the field. It represents a range of pay, from $21,070 for the bottom 10% of opticians to $50,780 for the top 10%. The range in pay represents differences in education and experience. Opticians who have been working longer usually command greater salaries. Those who keep their skills current by continuing their education can ask for higher wages than those who do not. There are several other factors that influence salary.

Geographic differences account for some of the variation from optician salary to optician salary. As in most industries, states with higher costs of living generally compensate their professionals more generously. This does not mean that they are better off, but in terms of sheer numbers, salaries are higher. States that have high salaries for opticians include California, Illinois, Ohio, and Florida. Opticians in cities tend to have higher wages than their counterparts in rural areas. States have different rules for licensure, as well. Some states have a more onerous and expensive process for proving competency in the field. It may be a consideration when weighing costs and benefits of a career as an optician.

The nature of an opticianís employer also has affects salary. Optician salaries are usually higher in hospitals than they are in private practices, although there are fewer employment opportunities for opticians in hospitals. Hospitals have specific rules and procedures that must be conveyed through professional training and these extra responsibilities equate to higher value. Some opticians work where eyewear is produced or sold. These private industry merchandising centers usually offer lower salaries.

Another factor that must be considered regarding salary is the initial cost of becoming an optician. Education can be expensive. Student loans, whether they come from federal grants or from private industry, can be a burden to earnings for many years. Paying student loans off for 20 years might reduce your lifetime earnings significantly, while earning a degree in a cost-effective way will increase at least your short-term earnings. Many opticians learn their trade through community colleges and technical schools that confer associateís degrees. There are bachelorís degrees conferred by select colleges or universities. Many community colleges cost less per credit than four-year colleges, whether they are public or private institutions.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014