How to Become an Optician in Alaska

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There are many people who need spectacles to see clearer in Alaska and as such the demand for opticians is strong.

Read this article if you want to learn what it takes to become an optician in Alaska!

We gathered information related not only to the training you need but also the salary you can expect!

Search Optician Certification Training Programs

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 Alaska

While opticians hold entry-level positions compared to many other medical professionals, they play an important role for those with eye problems.

Opticians tend to the needs of their patients by:

  • 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

Opticians can’t inspect eyes nor write prescriptions for eyewear.

Optician Job Requirements in Alaska

Alaska is one of the states that have specific requirements as far as opticians go.

This means that future opticians in this state need a license from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) before starting practicing.

For this, they will usually need to pass 2 exams:

  • ABO exam
  • National Contact Lens Examiner’s (NCLE) exam

The NCLE exam is needed by those who also want to work with contact lenses.

Other requirements include:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Graduating from a training program or having a formal education
    • An associate’s degree diploma is highly appreciated by employers
  • Good interpersonal skills

Optician Education in Alaska

As one could imagine, to get licensed, you need some formal education.

Unfortunately, Alaska doesn’t have any optician programs available.

Those interested have other possibilities though:

  • Join an online program
  • Join an apprenticeship
  • Enroll in a university in a different state

The main requirement for either of these training programs is to be able to qualify for the national exams at the end of the training period.

The training programs for these medical professionals are quite long, lasting at least 2 years and up to 4 years.

With the education lasting for so long, you can expect to obtain at the very least an Associates’ Degree.

These are some of the subjects you’ll learn about:

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

The apprenticeship must last for at least 1,800 hours and it has to be completed under a licensed optician.

Optician apprentices in Alaska must register with the state, according to the regulation in this state.

You should seek employers who are willing to cover the costs of your training, regardless of the chosen option.

Optician Certification in Alaska

The American Board of Opticianry offers the main exam for future opticians.

There are three levels of certification for the ABO exam:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

The exam you’ll take is called National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE).

This test focuses only on spectacles.

For the basic level of certification, the topics will cover:

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

The exam costs about $200, and in many cases, the free can be covered by the employers.

If you want to dispense contact lenses, you must pass another exam, offered by the National Contact Lens Examiners.

This exam also has experience-based levels, just like the ABO.

This exam is called Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) and it also costs around $200.

Employers can also cover the cost of this exam.

The exam for the basic level covers these topics:

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

The exams are available both in English and Spanish.

The following are needed to take these exams:

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

Every 3 years you must renew your certification as a beginner.

Certification renewal usually involves paying the renewal fee and continuing your education.

Those who want the advanced certificate will need:

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

Optician Employment and Salary in Alaska

Once you completed your education and training, you can apply for a job with these facilities:

  • Stores
  • Offices
  • Optometry practices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics

The most common jobs are frame stylists, assistants, and lab technicians.

Depending on your certifications, you can have a good career in this field.

In Alaska, the average salaries vary between $45,900 and $74,800 per year, though the actual number varies based on many other factors.

The advanced certification allows you to work as an independent optician.

Salaries are higher in cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Annual Salary Range:
$45K
$53K
$74K

Average Salary of Opticians in Alaska

City Name Salary
Anchorage $53,325
Juneau $52,851
Fairbanks $53,105
Wasilla $52,606
Sitka $52,131
Ketchikan $52,131
Kenai $52,606
Palmer $52,606
Bethel $52,606
Kodiak $52,606
* Salary information last updated 2021

Additional Information for Opticians in Alaska

When you need more help with finding classes and job opportunities, you can access 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

OptiCon is an event that can bring opticians together for various seminars, workshops, and more.

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