Program of Study

Optometric Assistant/Dispensing Optician
27-week program/810 hours


2017 Median Pay  $38,750 per year
$18.63 per hour
On-the-job Training  Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 77,600
Job Outlook, 2016-2036  15% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-2036  11,600

What Dispensing Opticians Do:

Dispensing opticians help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. They also help customers decide which eyeglass frames or type of contact lenses to buy.

Opticians typically do the following:

  •     Receive customers’ prescriptions, which ophthalmologists and optometrists have written, for eyeglasses or contact lenses
  •     Take measurements of customers’ eyes, such as the width or thickness of their corneas
  •     Help customers choose eyeglass frames and lens treatments, such as tints or nonreflective coatings, based on their vision needs and style preferences
  •     Create work orders for ophthalmic laboratory technicians, providing information about the lenses needed
  •     Make adjustments to finished eyeglasses to ensure a good fit
  •     Repair or refit broken eyeglass frames
  •     Educate customers about eyewear—for example, showing them how to care for their contact lenses
  •     Do business tasks, such as maintaining sales records, keeping track of customers’ prescriptions, and ordering inventory

Opticians who work in small shops or prepare custom orders may grind lenses and insert them into frames themselves, tasks usually performed by ophthalmic laboratory technicians.

Job Outlook

Employment of opticians is expected to grow by 29 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.

An aging population is anticipated to lead to greater demand for eye care services. People usually have eye problems in greater frequency when they reach middle age, so the need for opticians is expected to grow with the increase in the number of older people.

Awareness of the importance of eye exams is increasing across all age groups. Also, fashion influences demand for frames and contact lenses.

In addition, more opticians are finding employment in group medical practices. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are increasingly offering glasses and contact lenses to their patients as a way to expand their businesses, leading to a greater need for opticians in those settings.

However, employment growth is expected to be constrained by increases in productivity that will allow a given number of opticians to serve more customers.


The median annual wage of opticians was $39,050 in May 2013. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,070, and the top 10 percent earned more than $50,780.

Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest number of dispensing opticians in May 2010 were as follows:
Other general merchandise stores $36,280
Health and personal care stores 35,470
Offices of physicians 33,980
Offices of optometrists 30,370
Department stores 29,660

Opticians employed in department stores or other retail settings may be required to work evenings and weekends. Most opticians work full time, although part-time opportunities also are available.

CAJ Program of Study

This course of study prepares the student for an entry level position in an optical laboratory, as an optometric assistant, as a dispensing optician, or as an assistant in an ophthalmologist’s office or clinic. The course covers the anatomy and physiology of the human eye, vision aids, common in-office surgeries, common conditions and diseases of the eye, optical law and ethics, and a core health class.Additionally, the course covers methods for fitting hard and soft contact lenses, use of the keratometer, use of optical and ophthalmic equipment for making complete pairs of glasses, and optical math, including slab-off, powers in various meridians, and vertex math.


  • High School Diploma or Equivalent 
  • Demonstration of a minimum of 10th grade proficiency in reading, language, and math


  • Attend daily 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (90% minimum attendance)
  • Complete all classes with a minimum grade average of 80% (B) or better


  • Graduates receive a Certificate of Completion as Optometric Assistant
  • Graduates can receive job placement assistance
  • Teachers providing vocational training have had work experience in related industry and/or business
  • All teachers are credentialed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Training Modules

  • Lab Optician: Makes glasses in a lab; cuts, edges, tints, and coats lenses.
  • Dispensing Optician: Takes doctor’s prescriptions; helps patient select frames and lenses; dispenses contact lenses.
  • Optometric Assistant: Works with optometrist; does pretesting and general office duties.

The Assistant: A Profile

  • Demonstrates initiative and responsibility
  • Treats all patients with compassion
  • Uses appropriate medical terminology
  • Takes medical histories
  • Works as a team member
  • Assists with pretesting
  • Maintains confidentiality
  • Prepares patient for examination
  • Assists patient with frame selection
  • Follows federal, state and local legal guidelines

CAJ Gainful Employment Data:

• Graduation Rate for Completers:  84%
• Placement Rate for Completers:  74%

Required Orientation & Assessment

  • Every Wednesday 8:15 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room.
  • Please bring your government issued picture ID (i.e. Driver’s License, DMV ID card, etc).