How to Become an Optician in Alabama

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Seeing is one of the five senses most of us take for granted, however, not everyone sees with the same clarity.

An optician in Alabama can help those with poor eyesight see better, thus improving their quality of living.

Read on to learn what it takes to become an optician in this state!

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Get information on Optician Certification Training programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Optician Job Description and Duties in Alabama

Each person has different needs when it comes to their eyes, and an optician is sometimes the best person to go to.

Daily, opticians are in charge of:

  • Preparing eyewear
  • Fitting and adjusting eyewear
  • Educating customers about eyewear issues and maintenance
  • Keeping sales records
  • Determining insurance co-pays
  • Keeping the inventory
  • Interacting with the labs that make lenses

This professional doesn’t inspect eyes nor does he write prescriptions for eyewear.

Optician Job Requirements in Alabama

Alabama is one of the few states where there are no educational or licensing prerequisites to become an optician.

However, without these, you have lower chances of getting employed.

Most employers will set their own requirements as far as what they expect from an optician’s education or licensing aspect.

The most common prerequisites from employers are:

  • A high school diploma
  • 1 or 2 years of experience
  • A license

Optician Education in Alabama

Clearly, the license can be obtained through an exam.

The exam is taken usually after you completed some sort of training program.

The experience can be obtained through an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are usually offered by employers while training programs can be found at schools such as the ones below.

Top 3 Schools in Alabama

School NameAddress
Jefferson State Community College4600 Valleydale Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242
University of AlabamaAdministration Bldg Suite 1070, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-0110
Wallace Community College1141 Wallace Dr, Dothan, AL 36303

The duration of each program varies from school to school, as does the tuition.

For instance, the program found at the Wallace Community College lasts for 14 weeks.

Through this program, students will be prepared not for one, but 3 different exams that can only benefit their future careers.

At the Jefferson State Community College, the training program has a duration of about 2 years and has 60 credits.

Theory and clinical training are offered through this course.

The tuition here is lower, even when considering the textbooks.

Students are also ready to take the 3 exams mentioned earlier.

Furthermore, the University of Alabama offers a 4-year long program for future Doctors of Optometry.

Some of the subjects taught in this program are:

  • Introduction to Optometry
  • Ocular Anatomy
  • Systems 1: Neuroscience
  • Ocular Microbiology
  • Ophthalmic Imaging
  • Public Health Optometry
  • Glaucoma

Students will also have to complete some externships throughout their program.

Online training is also available for those interested in becoming an optician.

Optician Certification in Alabama

The main certification for these professionals is obtained through the American Board of Opticianry.

The Board offers three levels of certification:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

This exam is called National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) and focuses on spectacles.

The topics for the basic level are:

  • Reading prescriptions,
  • Fitting and dispensing spectacles
  • Using standard ophthalmic equipment

Individuals should know that to dispense contact lenses, they need to pass a separate exam, organized by the National Contact Lens Examiners.

The NCLE exam also has levels based on the candidate’s experience.

Their exam is called Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE).

Here are the topics of this exam, for the basic level:

  • Pre-fitting for lenses,
  • Diagnostic fitting,
  • Dispensing of lenses,
  • Patient education,
  • Delivery
  • Follow-up

Individuals can take the exams in English and Spanish.

To sit through the exam you’ll need:

  • Age over 18
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • To fill out an application
  • To pay some fees

Your beginner certification will have to be renewed every 3 years.

For this, you’ll need to pay another fee and continue your education.

If you want to get the advanced certificate, you need:

  • Basic certification
  • Experience of at least 3 years
  • At least 1 certification renewal

Optician Employment and Salary in Alabama

Once you’re more confident you’ll get the job, you can start applying at the places:

  • Stores
  • Offices
  • Optometry practices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics

There are many jobs available in these places, most common of them being frame stylists, assistants, or lab technicians.

The job outlook for this occupation is also good, and depending on your other certifications, you could branch into other careers as well.

Depending on where you work, your position, and your experience your salary could vary between $38,300 and $62,600 per year, on average.

You can start working as an independent optician if you have advanced certification.

Some of the cities where salaries are higher include Birmingham, Huntsville, and Madison.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Opticians in Alabama

City NameSalary
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Alabama

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Birmingham-Hoover, AL190$34,320$16.5$47,500$18,400
Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL40$31,890$15.33$41,980$17,900
Dothan, AL60$30,880$14.85$37,750$23,490
Huntsville, AL80$32,670$15.71$46,500$18,680
Mobile, AL60$31,220$15.01$41,870$17,850
Montgomery, AL50$33,790$16.25$45,180$26,260
Tuscaloosa, AL30$33,120$15.92$46,230$18,170
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Opticians, Dispensing, OCC Code 29-2081, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Additional Information for Opticians in Alabama

Sometimes regulations may change, and to stay informed you can use these resources:

  • American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE)
  • American Optometric Association
  • Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
  • Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
  • National Optometric Association
  • Alabama Society of Dispensing Opticians

Opticians can participate in various seminars and conventions to broaden their skills and knowledge.

OptiCon is one of these events.

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