According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average annual salary of an optician in the United States is $37,860, compared to the $117,580 national average annual salary of an optometrist, which is just under three times the earnings of an optician.
What is the difference between an optometrist and an optician?
An optometrist is different from the role of an optician, as these are the individuals who are qualified to test people’s eyes, check their visibility and prescribe eye support, such as glasses or contact lenses. The duty of an optician is to fit customers with prescribed eyewear and to size up each frame to correctly fit the individual. The main difference between these two roles is that optometrists are responsible for diagnosing any eye condition a patient may have, and opticians follow any requests made by an optometrist, such as putting together a prescription for a patient or by providing advice for how to care for your eyes when you are suffering from dry eye. Both optometrists and opticians can be found working for the same company, which can make the whole process much smoother for the patient. For example, they can diagnose you from your symptoms, whether you have something like dry eye, and then directly offer guidance on what you can do about it.
How does the training differ?
Optometrists typically have a longer duration of education and training than opticians. The requirements of an optometrist consist of achieving a Bachelor’s degree before attending an intense four-year program at Optometry school to become a Doctor of Optometry. Many optometrists are left in debt after their eight years of study due to tuition expenses, which opticians do not tend to have the burden of.
Opticians are only expected to train for six months, which usually consists of the completion of an apprenticeship program, which is not as intensive as Optometry school. However, this enables opticians to begin their careers quicker, as they begin to make an income before optometrists.
What is the difference in licensing?
In over half the states, optometrists are required to have a license. However, in just 21 states, opticians are required to have a license, and in many cases, it is the decision of the hiring business to determine whether licenses are required.
The higher need for optometrists to provide a license is due to the technical and extensive nature of their job, which is often fundamental to be able to diagnose eye conditions.
Why is eye care a good career?
In the United States alone, 64% of adults wear prescription glasses, and 20% of children also wear prescription glasses, according to a recent survey. As over half the population in the United States wear glasses, it proves there is a demand for eye care and regular eye tests, which means there is room for more opticians and optometrists within the industry.
One of the benefits of being an optician or an optometrist is that you can actively work alongside each other, which helps further your experience and knowledge of the industry. You also work closely with patients to ensure you are providing high-quality care, which will help enable you to build relationships with regular patients as they re-visit for their annual check-ups.