How to Become an Optician in Arkansas

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There are many people in Arkansas in need of eyewear to improve their eyesight.

This means there’s a strong demand for opticians in this state!

Read this article if you want to discover what it takes to become an optician in Arkansas!

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Optician Job Description and Duties in Arkansas

Each person had different needs and preferences for the gear they use to correct their vision.

It’s the job of the optician to meet these needs and preferences.

This is what these professionals do to achieve this goal:

  • 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

Inspecting the eyes or prescribing glasses is not part of their duties.

Optician Job Requirements in Arkansas

In Arkansas, opticians must undergo training either as apprentices or by enrolling in a formal education program.

They also need to obtain a license in order to work.

These are the needed licenses:

  • The American Board of Opticians (ABO)
  • The Arkansas State Board of Dispensing Opticians (ABDO)
  • The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) – optional

The NCLE diploma is mandatory for those who want or need to dispense contact lenses.

Other requirements to work as an optician in Arkansas include:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Good interpersonal skills

Optician Education in Arkansas

A future optician needs to attend a program that has national accreditation and approval from the Board.

These programs must be at least 18months long and must be followed by an apprenticeship period of another 18 months.

Alternatively, these individuals can also accumulate at least 5 years of experience as an apprentice or assistant of a licensed optician.

In the table below you can see the schools in Arkansas that offer educational programs for opticians.

Top 2 Schools in Arkansas

School NameAddress
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences4301 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72205
University of Central Arkansas201 Donaghey Ave, Conway, AR 72035

At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the classes for optometry are very small.

Those accepted can graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Ophthalmic Medical Technology.

The program offered at the University of Central Arkansas prepares you to pursue a four-year Doctor of Optometry degree at a specialized school.

If you want more school options, you can search either in a neighboring state or an online program.

You’ll have to make sure that the Board in Arkansas will accept the option you want to go for before you enroll.

You should remember that each school has different prerequisites as far as enrollment goes.

Some of the enrolling requirements could be:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Completing specific classes with a minimum grade of C
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • OAT scores – not older than 5 years
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75

These are some of the subjects you can expect to study during the optometry formal education program:

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

Optician Certification in Arkansas

In this state, the Arkansas State Board of Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) issues licenses to future opticians.

However, this exam can only be taken by those who pass the National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) offered by ABO first.

This exam focuses exclusively on spectacles, has a duration of 2 hours, and can be taken in English or Spanish.

The cost of this exam is about $200 and employers could cover it.

These are some of the covered topics:

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

The passing score for this exam is at least 70%.

As mentioned, if you want to work with contact lenses, you’ll need to pass the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) offered by the National Contact Lens Examiners.

The price for this exam is the same and employers can also cover the fee.

These are some of the topics for this exam:

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

The passing score is the same, and you can also take this exam in either English or Spanish.

Both exams are available at the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels.

When signing up for the exams, you could be asked for these papers:

  • Age over 21
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • An application
  • Proof you paid the fee
  • A clean criminal record
  • Proof of completed apprenticeship and/or education

In Arkansas, you could be asked only to renew your license every year.

Additional education is not mandatory, but useful for your career.

Optician Employment and Salary in Arkansas

Once you have your licenses, you’re ready to apply for a job.

These facilities are the ones needing qualified personnel the most:

  • Stores
  • Offices
  • Optometry practices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics

Of course, now you’re curious to know how much you can earn as an optician.

Your salary will obviously depend on many aspects, one of them being the city you work in, as you can see from the table below.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Opticians in Arkansas

City NameSalary
Little Rock$44,448
Fort Smith$41,954
North Little Rock$44,448
Pine Bluff$42,987
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Arkansas

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO150$43,280$20.81$62,400$29,440
Fort Smith, AR-OK70$41,300$19.85$61,710$27,840
Jonesboro, AR50$37,720$18.14$60,320$28,080
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR200$41,060$19.74$63,240$28,540
* 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 Arkansas

You’ll probably need some resources to find a job or to continue your education.

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
  • Arkansas Board of Dispensing Opticians
  • Opticians Association of Arkansas
  • OptiCon
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