What Opticians Do

Opticians help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists.


Work Environment

About half of opticians work in offices of optometrists or offices of physicians. Other opticians worked in stores that sell eyeglasses, contact lenses, visual aids, and other optical goods. These stores may be stand-alone businesses or parts of larger retail establishments, such as department stores.

How to Become an Optician

Opticians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and some form of on-the-job training. Some opticians enter the occupation with an associate’s degree or a certificate from a community college or technical school. About half of the states require opticians to be licensed.


The median annual wage for opticians was $37,840 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of opticians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. An aging population and increasing rates of chronic disease are expected to lead to greater demand for corrective eyewear.

Opticians help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. They also help customers decide which eyeglass frames or contact lenses to buy.


Opticians typically do the following:

  • Receive customers’ prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Measure customers’ eyes and faces, such as the distance between their pupils
  • Help customers choose eyeglass frames and lens treatments, such as eyewear for occupational use or sports, tints, or antireflective coatings, based on their vision needs and style preferences
  • Create work orders for ophthalmic laboratory technicians, providing information about the lenses needed
  • Adjust eyewear to ensure a good fit
  • Repair or replace broken eyeglass frames
  • Educate customers about eyewear—for example, show them how to care for their contact lenses
  • Perform business tasks, such as maintaining sales records, keeping track of customers’ prescriptions, and ordering and maintaining inventory

Opticians who work in small shops or prepare custom orders may cut lenses and insert them into frames—tasks usually performed by ophthalmic laboratory technicians.

Opticians held about 73,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of opticians were as follows:

Offices of optometrists 41%
Health and personal care stores 29
Offices of physicians 10
Self-employed workers 3

Opticians who work as part of a group optometry or medical practice work with optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide eye-related medical care to patients.

Work Schedules

Opticians who work in large retail establishments, such as department stores, may have to work evenings and weekends. Most opticians work full time, although part-time opportunities also are available.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of opticians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019


Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or ear problems.

Doctoral or professional degree $77,600

Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians construct, fit, or repair medical appliances and devices.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,370

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, construct, adjust, repair, appraise and sell jewelry.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,870



Optometrists diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes.

Doctoral or professional degree $115,250

Orthotists and Prosthetists

Orthotists and prosthetists design and fabricate medical supportive devices and measure and fit patients for them.

Master’s degree $68,410

For more information about opticians, including certifications and a list of state licensing boards for opticians, visit

American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners

For a list of accredited programs, visit

Commission on Opticianry Accreditation

For more information about optician education, visit

National Academy of Opticianry

National Federation of Opticianry Schools

Opticians Association of America


Opticians, Dispensing

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Opticians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/opticians-dispensing.htm (visited ).