When you go to have your eyes checked, you are likely to encounter a number of different optical professionals to assist you along the way. Opticians, also known as dispensing opticians, are on the front lines in most offices, directly interacting with customers and fostering customer loyalty through assistance. They are found in various work settings including hospitals, retail shops, eye care centers, and joint practice. 

Optician Job Description 

An optician is an individual that works directly with customers in order to provide care throughout their visit whether it is for exams, procedures or even surgeries. After an optometrist and ophthalmologist have assessed a patient’s needs and written a prescription, an optician must then oversee the ordering of all eye-related products and ensure that they are fitted, adjusted and repaired properly. Registered opticians may also be responsible for designing and fitting special devices such as artificial eyes to correct cosmetic, traumatic or anatomical defects.

Job duties of an optician consists of:

  • Taking eye and facial measurements to correctly interpret prescriptions
  • Guiding patients when selecting frames for proper fit and styling
  • Inserting, removing and caring for contact lenses
  • Advising patients on any necessary repairs or adjustments
  • Maintaining displays
  • Basic bookkeeping duties associated with tracking patient’s orders and recording purchases and other necessary information for each patient
  • Preparing work order for optical laboratory
  • Working with sales professionals from vision care suppliers
  • Ensuring that all orders arrive and are to the specifications of the patient

How to become an Optician

Because opticians are responsible for the less medically-related tasks of eye care, a high school diploma or GED equivalent is necessary, followed by either formal training or an associate’s degree in opticianry. Individuals who do opt to complete two years of college for a degree will learn basic coursework in general anatomy and the anatomy of the eye as well as algebra, optical physics, mathematics and administration.

Some aspiring opticians will also take classes related to precision measuring techniques and optical instrumentation, especially because they will eventually be responsible for taking down various eye measurements and then fitting contacts and glasses to patients. Other advanced studies can be explored as well, including classes on topics like fitting contact lenses and even visionary prosthetics.

Optician Training

Aside from a high school diploma or GED equivalent, there is no formal schooling required to become an optician. Therefore, some individuals may decide to apprentice with a licensed optician instead. People that choose to pursue their career through this method will have to train for anywhere from two to four years, meaning that it may take longer to be a licensed optician without obtaining an associate’s degree.

Optician Certification

To meet the optician job description, an individual must complete a certification examination that consists of 125-multiple choice questions and be 18 years of age with a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Of course, licensing and certification requirements often vary between states, meaning that people must check with their state to obtain further information as to what is required for certification. Some states may even require proof of an associate’s degree or two to four years of apprenticeship training. The two organizations that are nationally recognized and respected for optician certification include the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE).

While not every state requires certification, most employers and customers prefer an individual who has obtained proper licensing. This means that it is usually best to pursue either a degree or a training position in order to secure a position in an office. Licensed or registered opticians are expected to uphold the standard of practice and hold professional liability insurance set by the state regulating bodies. They also have to complete continuing education courses to maintain their license. 

Optician Salary

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Optician Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the optician job description:

  • Interpret prescriptions, measure eyes and properly dispense frames and contacts
  • Work with ophthalmologists and optometrists
  • 2-year Associate’s Degree or 2-4 year apprenticeship under licensed optician
  • Recommended certification by the ABO or NCLE
  • 23% employment growth by 2022