Martinez Adult Education Optical Assistant Apprenticeship Program

Submitted By: Suzanne Murphy

Contra Costa Adult Education Consortium


Type of Practice: Program Development / Curriculum / Classroom

Program Area(s): CTE / Workforce Prep / Pre-apprenticeship

Region: Bay Area

Consortia Involved: Contra Costa Adult Education Consortium

Program Overview

Martinez Adult Education developed a short-term optical assistance apprenticeship training program that leads to certification and licensure to support the needs of the region and employers.

The Program of Practice

There is a huge need and demand for this occupation. Employers need both applicants who are trained in the field and who are able to become American Board of Opticianry (ABO) certified and licensed in the state. The needs of employers and the demand in the industry have created a shortage of qualified Dispensing Opticians or Optical assistants. The need for short-term training that leads to certification and licensure is key for helping support the needs of employers.

The Response

Martinez has developed a short-term training program that is set up in modules that allow students to enter the training program every 3-4 weeks. There are always students entering and exiting the program. This is necessary for a continuous stream of students ready to enter employment. Many of the students will be employed while they are in training, hence the apprenticeship model, and will continue with the employer after they have completed the program.

The Unique Features of the Program

The modular format with rolling enrollment every 3-4 weeks is unique and essential to the success of this program. The employer partners who are present at all orientations for this program are essential. The program, as a state-approved apprenticeship program, allows for additional funding under the new innovative apprenticeship programs and a goal in the state of CA.

The Outcome

There is a job for everyone and the end of the program, most students are employed in the industry while they are in training. The success rate for students passing the American Board of Optcianry Exam is 87% compared to those who are not enrolled in the program passing rate is about 55%. Hourly wages for students completing the program and those who are ABO certified range from $27-$40 per hour. The employer partners for the program are Warby Parker, Walmart, Costco, Target Optical, and numerous small Optometrists Offices data from 20/21 and in 21/22. Twenty-five students enrolled, 15 completers for the program with a total of 11 employed full-time. Employers included Walmart, Warby Parker, and private Optometrists Officers. Seven passed the ABO and are certified, while 5 still need to test.