How to Become an Optician in Tennessee

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If you’re one of the people who want to help improve the quality of life of others, you could consider a job as an optician.

This article will present a short guide on how you can become an optician in Tennessee, so read on!

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Optician Job Description and Duties in Tennessee

The job of an optician is to give advice to customers in relation to the eyewear they should get, considering their needs and preferences.

The day of an optician looks more or less like the following:

  • 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

As an optician, you won’t inspect eyes nor will you prescribe eyewear.

Optician Job Requirements in Tennessee

Opticians in Tennessee are overseen by the Tennessee Board of Opticianry.

This also means they need to obtain a license in order to practice.

For this, you’ll have to undergo formal training.

Furthermore, the candidates that can show the following are usually preferred by employers:

  • 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
  • Detail-oriented abilities
  • Reliability
  • Clean criminal record

Optician Education in Tennessee

In Tennessee, individuals can choose one of the following three schools for their optician courses.

Top 3 Schools in Tennessee

School NameAddress
Lipscomb UniversityOne University Park Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37204-3951
Roane State Community College276 Patton Lane, Harriman, Tennessee 37748
Southern College of Optometry1245 Madison Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38104-2211

The programs offered will award these degrees:

  • Associate’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Doctorate degree

You should know that the tuition for the lower degrees will be more affordable than the higher degrees.

If you more options as far as the courses go, you can look at the schools from other states.

Depending on the diploma you’ll earn, expect to study between 7 months and 4 years at the very least.

Remember it’s not easy to get into these programs.

Most schools will have these expectations from students interested in the opticianry courses:

  • 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 a few of the actual classes you’ll attend:

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

You also have the option to join an apprenticeship for at least 3 years, instead of receiving formal education.

Optician Certification in Tennessee

When the time for you to become licensed comes, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • NBEO, especially Parts I, II, III, and the TMOD section
  • South Dakota Law and Ethics
  • National Commission of State Opticianry Regulatory Boards (NCSORB)

This license has to be renewed every 3 years after completing 45 hours of continuing education.

The ABO-NCLE exams are available in English and Spanish, cost $200 each, and have these levels of difficulty:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

For the ABO test you must know:

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

The NCLE allows you to dispense contact lenses and its subjects are:

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

The ABO-NCLE credentials must be renewed after every 3 years.

For this, you’ll complete some hours of continuing education.

Optician Employment and Salary in Tennessee

The demand for opticians can never go down as people will always need eyewear for improved vision.

In case you were wondering where you can find a job, try at these places:

  • Stores
  • Offices
  • Optometry practices
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics

In Tennessee, the median salary for opticians is around $43,000 per year.

In larger cities, the income is higher, though there are many other factors influencing this.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Opticians in Tennessee

City NameSalary
Johnson City$41,802
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Tennessee

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Chattanooga, TN-GA90$46,060$22.15$68,540$28,130
Clarksville, TN-KY50$44,210$21.25$67,170$24,270
Jackson, TN30$42,600$20.48$72,800$27,510
Johnson City, TN50$40,170$19.31$59,630$23,230
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA70$42,190$20.28$61,870$27,830
Knoxville, TN190$44,140$21.22$64,520$28,270
Memphis, TN-MS-AR210$42,870$20.61$65,360$28,810
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN400$45,090$21.68$67,130$28,230
* 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 Tennessee

Many people still need help with extra classes and even with finding employment, and these are some of the best resources:

  • National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO)
  • Tennessee Department of Health
  • National Commission of State Opticianry Regulatory Boards (NCSORB)
  • Tennessee Dispensing Opticians Association
  • American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE)
  • Tennessee Dispensing Technicians Association
  • Tennessee Board of Dispensing Opticians
  • Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA)
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