How To Become An Optician

opticianry is the profession of an optician. opticians use the prescriptions from optometrists and ophthalmologists to help their clients in selecting the right eyeglasses and contact lenses. optician responsibilities may also overlap with the duties of ophthalmic laboratory technicians because they may have to grind lenses and fit them into frames. a majority of opticians work in offices of optometrists. others may work in health and personal care stores. a small minority of opticians work in departmental stores as well. irrespective of the work settings, an optician is likely to perform the following duties on regular basis:

  • receive prescriptions from customers for contact lenses and eyeglasses
  • take measurements of customers' eyes
  • help customers find the right eyeglass frames or contact lenses according to their preferences and vision needs
  • place orders with ophthalmic laboratory technicians
  • make final adjustments to eyeglasses for a smooth fit
  • refit or repair broken eyeglass frames
  • order inventory, keep track of customers' prescriptions, and maintain sales record
  • educate customers about eyewear

how to become an optician
becoming an optician may not require a post-secondary education degree; however, a high school diploma is required along with some on-the-job training. twenty-three states require opticians to be licensed, while others do not regulate the occupation tightly. a number of community colleges and technical schools across the us offer courses in opticianry. these courses may also be available online, which could be an option for students who cannot attend a traditional on-campus setting. online education is offers flexibility when scheduling courses, and students may complete coursework at their own pace. students may wish to pursue a 2-year associate's degree in opticianry or a one-year certificate. most opticianry courses focus on optics, business management, and eye physiology.

as mentioned earlier, some states require opticians to be licensed. gaining a license would require completing a formal education program or an apprenticeship. some states, in addition to licensing requirements, may also require opticians to pass a written exam, certification exams, or practical exams in order to practice as an optician. some opticians, in order to enhance their practical skills, may decide to get certified voluntarily. in that case, they should consider passing exams administered by the american board of opticianry (abo) and the national contact lens examiners (ncle).

job qualities
opticians who possess the following qualities are likely to succeed in their career:

  • communication skills
  • manual dexterity
  • management skills
  • customer service skills

job outlook
the us bureau of labor statistics (bls) reported more than 60,000 opticians working in the us in 2010. between 2010 and 2020, their numbers are expected to grow in the next 10 years at the rate of 29 percent. this is faster growth than the average for all other occupations in the country. in 2010, the bls quoted that opticians earned a median annual salary figure of almost $33,000. opticianry is a field that is on the rise. an optician's professional life is never mundane especially if he/she enjoys helping people and has strong communication skills.


Q:How long does it take to become an optician?

A:It may take 2-4 years of college education to become an optician. Most opticians are required to have an associate degree and apprenticeship training. The apprenticeship program can last anywhere from 3 to 4 years of on-the-job training. The licensing and certification will vary from state to state. The American board of Opticianry (ABO) is a recognized professional organization in this field.

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