How to Become an Optician in Illinois
Optician jobs require exceptional customer service skills and extensive healthcare knowledge that helps them fill eyewear and contact lens prescriptions.
Want to qualify for an optician job in Illinois?
You’ll need to undergo specialized training to learn the tools of the trade. Obtaining an official certification might also improve your chances of getting hired.
Education and Training
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Generally speaking, people wondering how to become an optician in Illinois have two training options to choose from:
- Get an entry-level job at a retail store that sells prescription eyewear and learn through on-the-job training.
- Enroll in an accredited training course at an Illinois trade school or community college
On-the-Job Optician Training
Optician trainees typically start out performing standard customer service tasks, such as operating cash registers, stocking product shelves, and taking inventory.
Important Skills to Learn
At the same time, an experienced supervisor teaches them the basic opticianry skills they’ll need to eventually do the job independently, such as:
- How to process hand-written or digital prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses
- What filing system the store uses to organize patient records
- Basic communication and customer service techniques
- How to use optician equipment, including eye and face-measuring equipment and eyeglass lens- and frame-shaping tools
- Methods for recommending and up-selling different eyeglasses coatings, tints, and treatments
Optician Schools in IL
Receiving a formal education might improve your chances of qualifying for optician jobs in Illinois optometrist and ophthalmologist offices.
During your training course, your instructor will cover topics like:
- Fundamental Optometry
- Ocular Anatomy and Physiology
- Public Health Optometry
- Optical Technology
- Refractometry and Physics
- Ocular Microbiology
- Measuring, Shaping, and Repairing Eyewear
- Ophthalmic Imaging
- Spectacle Fabrication
- Contact and Ophthalmic Lens Dispensing
A certificate or diploma program for opticians in IL typically takes nine months to a year to complete. Most schools dedicate roughly 120 of these courses to hands-on training and externships. You might be able to finish your training in as little as seven months, depending on where you enroll.
If your career plans involve becoming an optometrist or ophthalmologist, consider enrolling in a two-year optician program to obtain an associate’s degree. In some cases, students take closer to three years to earn their optician degrees.
How Much Does Optician School in IL Cost?
Tuition, books, and fees vary across schools. For example, programs that are less than a year long might cost anywhere from $1,200 to about $2,500. Meanwhile, degree programs that are 18 months to two years long could cost as much as $45,000.
Illinois Optician Requirements
In fact, the state of Illinois currently lacks any official requirements for optician schooling or certification. Because of this, candidates might be able to find retail optician jobs in Illinois if their only qualification is their high school diploma.
Even though a state- or nationally-issued license is optional for opticians in IL, obtaining this credential could make it easier to get hired, especially if you hope to work in a private clinic or hospital. You can earn your certification by passing the following licensing examinations through the National American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners:
- The National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE): Certification exam for dispensing eyeglasses
- The Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE): Certification exam for dispensing contact lenses
Applying for a License
To take these exams, candidates must submit the following:
- Proof of identity, certifying that you are over 18 years of age
- A copy of your high school diploma, GED certificate, or equivalent
- A completed application form
- Payment of any required fees
Once you pass your licensing exams, you can begin applying for optician jobs in Illinois. Keep in mind that some employers might have additional requirements that candidates must meet, such as passing a criminal background check or drug screening.
Optician Salaries in IL
Annual earnings for opticians in IL usually fall around $29,260 per year. However, the average optician salary in Illinois may vary depending on which part of the state you live in. Wondering how much opticians make where you live? Check out this list to learn about annual earnings for opticians in different Illinois cities:
- Springfield $29,696
- Chicago $30,607
- Kankakee $25,537
- Decatur $28,759
- Rockford $28,682
- Bloomington $27,376
- Elgin $31,243
As you gain more experience, your employer might give you performance-based raises that take your annual salary closer to $40,000 per year. Job seekers with a formal education and an official certification might be able to negotiate higher wages when applying for optician jobs in Illinois. Many of these qualified candidates find jobs in healthcare settings and make upwards of $50,000 per year or more.
Opticians in IL are responsible for helping customers and patients select well-fitting eyewear that suits their unique prescriptions and style preferences. Whether these professionals work in a retail store or an optometrist’s or ophthalmologist’s office, their duties typically include:
- Receiving and reviewing patient eyeglasses and contact lens prescriptions
- Measuring the customer’s face and eyes to determine the appropriate eyewear sizing and fit
- Gathering information about what colors, styles, coatings, tints, and treatments they want for their eyeglasses
- Submitting work orders of the customer’s preferences to optical technicians who grind and shape eyeglasses
- Allowing customers to try on the finished eyeglasses and making size adjustments to ensure a proper fit
- Instructing customers and patients on how to care for their eyeglasses and contact lenses
Aspiring opticians in IL might see a slight uptake in demand for optician jobs over the next ten years. Experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that the need for trained opticians in the United States will increase by about four percent over the next decade. Hopefuls can take advantage of this projected growth rate by obtaining official licenses so they can qualify for optician jobs in IL more easily.