How to Become an Optician in New York
Just like how most aspiring dentists, nurses and doctors begin as dental, nursing, and physician’s assistants, those hoping to work in the optometry field may consider becoming opticians.
New York residents can jumpstart their optometrist careers by completing an accredited education program and obtaining the necessary license.
Education & Training
When it comes to beginning a career in this field, those wondering how to become an optician in New York have two choices.
Option one is to participate in an accredited apprenticeship to gain hands-on experience and training under the supervision of a licensed optometrist, ophthalmologist, or physician. At the end of the two-year program, these trainees typically get a job at the location where they trained.
Attending a Degree Program
Your second option is to enroll in an optician certificate or degree program at a New York trade school or community college.
Since optician jobs in New York require mathematical skills like algebra and geometry, this might be an excellent choice for those who haven’t taken any math classes in a while.
In addition to the math courses, educational programs for aspiring opticians in NY usually include classes like:
- Principles of Optics
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye
- Ophthalmic Materials and Laboratory
- Principles of Refraction
- Contact Lenses
- Ophthalmic Dispensing
Courses also have clinical components that allow students to practice their skills in simulated settings.
To enhance their customer service skills, students may also take marketing and sales classes.
You might also consider taking a fundamentals of fashion class so you can make informed style recommendations for eyeglasses frames for patients and clients.
New York Optician Requirements
You must obtain an ophthalmic dispenser license from the New York State Department of Education to qualify for optician jobs in New York. You will also need to get a separate certification to dispense contact lenses.
While you can pursue both certifications simultaneously, those who choose to get them separately must obtain the ophthalmic dispenser license before applying for the contact lens credential.
Completing an Apprenticeship or Program
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and complete an apprenticeship or trade school program to meet the educational and experience requirements.
Qualified candidates must submit a licensure application form and pay a $108 fee to the Office of Professions. Once the department reviews your application, you’ll be able to register for the licensing exam.
Certification exams for opticians in New York have a written portion and a practical component. Candidates must past both sections in order to obtain their official ophthalmic dispensing license.
Exams for the contact lens dispensing license have the same structure, so those who pursue both credentials at the same time will need to pass all four tests.
Optician Salaries in NY
Although the average optician salary in NY is roughly $58,751 per year, your exact wages may differ depending on where you work.
For example, opticians who work in optometrist’s offices generally earn more than those who find jobs at an eyeglasses retailer. Meanwhile, opticians working in ophthalmologist clinics might make more than both of them.
Where you live can also influence how much you make as a New York optician. Take a look at the list below to find the average optician salary in different parts of New York:
- New York City $62,941
- Long Island $63,495
- Albany $55,328
- Yonkers $62,501
- Syracuse $55,776
Over time, opticians in New York may receive performance-based raises and bonuses that increase their overall salaries. Some experienced opticians earn as much as $70k per year or more, depending on where they live and work.
What Do They Do?
Opticians, also known as dispensing opticians, design and measure eyeglasses and contact lenses to find the best fit for each client. Many of these professionals work in retail stores, but some find jobs in private practice doctor’s offices and clinics.
During their workdays, opticians fulfill optometrist and ophthalmologist prescriptions by:
- Measuring clients’ eyes, including the distance between the centers of the pupils
- Calculate the appropriate amount of space to leave between the surface of the eyes and the lenses
- Recommend eyeglass lenses, frames, finishes, protective coatings, and tints based on a client’s occupation and facial structure
- Using the information they collect to prepare work orders for optical labs to grind and mount the necessary lenses into frames
- Verify finished lenses and adjust or reshape frames to ensure a precise fit for the client
- Educate clients on how to put in, take out, and clean their contact lenses
An optician also has several customer service duties, including recommending some of the industry’s most popular eyeglasses brands, reviewing insurance benefits, and processing payments.
Opticians are also responsible for billing the insurance companies and notifying clients when their contact lenses and eyeglasses prescriptions are ready for pickup.
Optician vs. Optical Technician
Some people in the industry may use the terms “optician” and “optical technician” interchangeably, primarily if they work in a facility where the same person performs multiple duties. However, these two titles designate different jobs.
An optician’s primary task is ensuring that a patient or customer’s eyeglasses and contact lenses are a precise fit for their eyes and face.
Meanwhile, an optical technician assists the optometrist by performing tests on a patient’s visual accuracy, eye pressure, and color vision. Techs also obtain patient records, check the patient’s insurance coverage, answer phones, schedule appointments, and calibrate or repair eye examination equipment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for opticians in the United States is likely to increase by about four percent over the next decade. Experts also expect employment opportunities for opticians in NY to remain on the rise as more workers retire or transition into optometrist and ophthalmologist careers.