Walmart rolling out new training program for vision center staff, ups pay for opticians, pharmacists

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas—Retail giant Walmart will roll out a new program that aims to assist employees of its vision centers in advancing their careers.

Through the new Optician Development Program, the company will back its vision center associates in obtaining key licensure and certifications from the American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners, which will allow them to advance into additional roles.

The training will be offered as part of the company's Optical Training Institute and will be covered in full by the company.

Brian Setzer, executive vice president of Walmart Health and Wellness, told reporters at the company's Associates Week on Wednesday that affording its employees opportunities to grow is critical to realizing its mantra of "save money, live better."

"We can only do that through patient care-obsessed associates," Setzer said.

In addition, the company announced Wednesday that it will raise pay for opticians as well as pharmacists in its stores across the country. In a blog post, Walmart executives said that 3,700 pharmacists nationwide will see a raise, bringing its average salary for pharmacists to more than $140,000 per year.

The company also issued raises for 36,000 pharmacy technicians last year, according to the blog post, which was authored by Kevin Host, senior vice president of Health and Wellness, Pharmacy, and David Reitnauer, vice president of Health and Wellness, Optical.

About 4,000 opticians will also see their pay increase, according to the blog post, with pay expected to top $22.50 per hour on average.

Host and Reitnauer said investments in salary and employee training are critical to attracting high-caliber candidates to its stores as its Health and Wellness arm continues to grow.

"In many communities, Walmart’s pharmacy and vision center associates are the most accessible healthcare providers for busy families," Host and Reitnauer wrote. "Whether it’s offering prescriptions and immunizations at everyday low prices, providing counsel, or helping customers save money so they can live better, these associates are making a difference.