Both the industry in which you work and the area in which you live can affect your income as an optician. In short, you will maximize your salary by working in an outpatient care center in New Jersey!
Wages by Industry
Opticians make, on average, $35,010 a year, according to 2012 data. This translates to about $16.83 an hour. The lowest 10% of earners make around $10.11 hourly, or $21,030 annually, and the highest 10% of earners make over $25.35 an hour, or $52,740 a year. In 2012 there were roughly 65,000 opticians employed in the United States. There are a variety of factors that can affect your wages, such as your education and experience level. Another factor is the industry in which you work. Certain industries pay their opticians higher average wages than others. For example, you will average the highest income (around $42,780) if you work for an outpatient care center. Other top-paying industries include general medical and surgical hospitals, medical equipment and supplies manufacturers, specialty hospitals, and colleges/universities/professional schools. Unfortunately, these industries only employ a handful of opticians around the country (fewer than 1,000 each). You are much more likely to work for the office of a health practitioner (most likely an optometrist). There are over 26,000 opticians working in this industry, and their average salary is around $33,250 a year. Other industries that employ a relatively high number of opticians are health/personal care stores, offices of physicians, other general merchandise stores, and department stores. Of these high employment industries, you will make the most ($37,060, on average) if you work in a health/personal care store.
Wages by Geographic Region
The states that employ the most opticians are California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and Ohio. The cities that employ the most are all large metropolitan areas (understandably): Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington (D.C.), New York, Troy (Michigan), Atlanta, Houston, Santa Ana (California) and Minneapolis – in that order. A better way to ascertain what areas employ more opticians than is standard, however, is to look at regions’ location quotients. This term refers to the concentration of people in one profession within a state or city. The states with the highest location quotients are South Dakota, North Dakota, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland. You can see how this is different from overall employment level by looking at how many people are opticians out of every 1,000 people employed (in California it is only 0.5, whereas in South Dakota it is 1.11). Metropolitan regions with high location quotients are Salisbury, Maryland; Bloomington, Indiana; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Flint, Michigan; Jackson, Mississippi; Ocala, Florida; Santa Cruz, California; Rapid City, South Dakota; Kokomo, Indiana; and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Geography, just like industry, also affects how much you will earn as an optician. The states that pay their opticians the highest wages are New Jersey, Rhode Island, D.C., Massachusetts, and New York (where the salary in New Jersey averages $51,300, and in New York the average is $46,780). High-paying cities include Worchester, Massachusetts; Trenten, New Jersey; Edison, New Jersey; Nassau, New York; New Haven, Connecticut; Danbury, Connecticut; Newark, New Jersey; Peabody, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; and New York, New York.