Optical dispensing technicians are responsible for using prescriptions from ophthalmologists in order to fit eyeglasses and contact lenses for those with limited eyesight. They will recommend various eyeware products and instruct the user on appropriate eyeware use. Dispensing opticians also repair broken eyeglasses and frames.
National Salary Scales
The average annual salary for a dispensing optician was $34,790 in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), based on a survey of 60,840 employees. This equates to a mean hourly wage of $16.73. The median hourly wage was $15.74, equating to a median annual salary of $32,740. Ten percent made less than $21,120 a year, while the top 10 percent made $50,560 or more.
Salaries by Industry
The top paying sector in 2009 was that of employment services, i.e. non-contracted workers, with an annual mean wage of $47,320. In second place was general medical and surgical hospitals, with $43,000 a year, followed by outpatient care centers, medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, an other general merchandise stores. The industry with the highest number of opticians was that of the offices of optometrists, which offered an annual average salary of $32,050. This was followed by health and personal care stores, the offices of physicians, other general merchandise stores and department stores.
Salaries by State and Metropolitan Area
The state with the highest average annual salary for opticians in 2009 was Connecticut, which offered $52,180 a year. This was followed by Massachusetts, $49,690, New Jersey, $49,130, Virginia, $46,540, and New York, $45,940. The top paying metropolitan area was the Nassau-Suffolk area, New Yorkm with an annual mean wage of $60,420. This was followed by Lynchburg, Virginia and Punta Gorda, Florida.
Qualifications and Outlook
The minimum formal qualifications required for this profession is a high school diploma. However, some college courses in mathematics, science and computers will increase the chances of getting hired. Some community colleges offer specific training for a career as an optical dispensing technician. Experienced opticians may advance to open their own stores. According the BLS, employment in this field is expected to grow by 13 percent from 2008 to 2018.
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