How to Become an Optician in Illinois

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If you feel like an optician career is right for you, you should first know what steps to take.

This article will bring you some info regarding licensing and training in Illinois, so check it out.

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Optician Job Description and Duties in Illinois

Opticians need to ensure that their clients are provided the eye-wear that suits their needs and style.

There are several job duties you will have to accomplish daily, which include:

  • 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

Keep in mind that as an optician you will not inspect your clients’ eyes.

You are also not allowed to offer eye-wear prescriptions.

Optician Job Requirements in Illinois

In Illinois, opticians do not have to meet specific criteria to receive a license.

However, if you have to get hired right away, you will need to apply for a license.

Most companies wish to hire people who passed the American Board of Opticians (ABO) exam.

You may also be asked for the National Contact Lens Examiner’s (NCLE) exam.

This is mostly the case for opticians who want to work with contact lenses.

Before you can get your first job, you will have to show the following:

  • 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 Illinois

Although Illinois has no education criteria, many post-secondary schools offer optician training programs.

Take a look below if you want to check the schools that provide programs for opticians in Illinois.

Top 1 Schools in Illinois

School NameAddress
Illinois College of Optometry3241 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60616-3878

Keep in mind that you should also check for the requirements of the school you chose.

You will probably have to submit:

  • 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

Some schools in this state provide an externship with a duration of 120 hours.

The programs for opticians generally last for 7 months.

During the program, you will take classes of both theory and practice, which include:

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

Optician Certification in Illinois

The license is only issued to students who finished a training program.

The licensing body in Illinois is the State Board of Dispensing Opticians.

The Board releases license to students who fulfill at least one of the below requirements:

  • A license in a reciprocal state
  • At least 3 years of experience
  • An apprenticeship of 3 years in the past 6 years
  • Working as an optician in a state with no licensing requirements
  • Graduate from an approved post-secondary optician program with a year of apprenticeship

In addition, you will need to pass the National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) through the ABO.

This test has three difficulty levels and its main focus is on spectacles:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

The topics for the beginner level are:

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

Most often, the entity that hired you will cover the $200 exam fee.

If you plan on dispensing contact lenses you will be required to take an extra exam.

This is the National Contact Lens Examiners and has the same levels of difficulty as the ABO.

You will also be required to take the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE).

The fee for this exam is $200, but it is usually paid for by the company that you work for.

The CLRE exam topics can be found below:

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

These certification tests are available in English as well as Spanish.

You will need to submit the documents below before sitting for the exams:

  • Age over 18
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • To fill out an application
  • To pay some fees
  • A clean criminal record
  • Passing the State Practical Examination
  • Proof of completed training, education, or at least 3 years of experience

After you get your license, you will also need to renew it in order to keep working.

Doing that requires some extra education hours.

Optician Employment and Salary in Illinois

Once you are licensed, you can find a job in:

  • Stores
  • Offices
  • Optometry practices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics

You will earn an annual salary of around $49,300 in this state.

The table below shows what the average salary is in Illinois’ main cities.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Opticians in Illinois

City NameSalary
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Illinois

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Bloomington, IL70$34,310$16.5$43,570$28,810
Carbondale-Marion, IL70$35,570$17.1$40,620$29,900
Champaign-Urbana, IL60$39,590$19.03$53,490$30,730
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI2,370$39,440$18.96$47,360$31,230
Peoria, IL100$39,670$19.07$59,370$29,250
Rockford, IL80$39,340$18.91$46,160$29,500
Springfield, IL60$40,710$19.57$49,580$31,270
* 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 Illinois

If you need additional resources, check out the following:

  • American Board of Opticianry
  • American Optometric Association
  • Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
  • Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
  • National Optometric Association
  • Illinois Association of Opticians
  • Optician Job Listings in Illinois
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