Opticians play an integral role in the provision of quality eye care services to patients. As eye doctors focus on diagnosing eye disorders, opticians dispense lenses that correct these disorders. Read on to acquire more information on what it takes to become an optician.
See Also: How to Become an Ocularist in the US
1. What Do Opticians Do
Their duties include:
- Interpreting prescriptions written by ophthalmologists and optometrists
- Interviewing patients to gather more information on their occupation, work habits and style of eyeglasses desired
- Measuring patients’ eye size, temple length, popularity distance and vertex distance – this involves the use lensometers and other specialized measuring equipment
- Ordering lenses from manufacturers or lenses
- Applying coatings to lenses and smoothen edges
- Fitting contact lenses onto the surface of a patient’s pupil
- Maintaining an inventory of eyewear merchandise
- Repairing broken eyeglass frames
- Advising patients on how to care for their spectacles
2. Work Environment
Many opticians work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Those who work in large optical stores also spend evenings and part of their weekends working.
While at work, opticians spend their time in a standard business environment where they attend to clients. Large stores have private consultation rooms where opticians interview clients.
According to Payscale, opticians earn between $21,689 and $48,630 annually.
4. Entry Requirements
Although you can get hired with a high school diploma and undergo extensive on-the-job training, customers are getting more conscious about the level of professional training their opticians have.
As such, the best way to enter the profession is by pursuing a certificate program or associate degree in opticianry. The program should provide training in all phases of opticianry, from surfacing (blocking, fining and polishing) to benchwork (heat treating and chemical tempering) and dispensing (adapting lenses to patients’ needs).
Some of the colleges that are accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation to offer opticianry degrees include:
The last step is to check whether your state regulates the practice of opticians. If it does like Florida, then you will need to meet its eligibility requirements for licensing. These may include providing your relevant post-secondary training credentials and passing a licensing exam.
5. Important Qualities
To be an accomplished optician, you need:
- Strong analytical skills to read and interpret prescriptions
- A sound judgment
- Good problem-solving skills
- Good business skills
- Good customer-service skills
- Dexterity to use various opticianry tools
- Good communication skills
- A passion for helping other people
- The ability to pay close attention to details
- Good practical and technical skills
- A basic understanding of fashion styles
- The ability to respect customers’ stylistic tastes
6. Career Advancement
To enhance the chances of taking your career to the next level, you should:
- Get certified by the Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) to improve your competence and gain public recognition
- Secure membership in the Opticians Associations of America to network with other opticians
- Take the National Academy of Opticianry’s Ophthalmic Career Progression Program
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of opticians include:
- Offices of Optometrists
- Optical stores
- Manufacturers and distributors of lenses
- Health and personal care stores
- Department stores
With experience and advanced credentials, you can be promoted to the position of optical manager. In this position, you will be responsible for the operations of an optical store.
With sufficient capital, you can also establish you own store.
If you wish to move into optometry, then you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by a Doctor of Optometry degree from a medical school and an optometry license.