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Become A Dispensing Optician Apprentice

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Working As A Dispensing Optician Apprentice

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • $79,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Dispensing Optician Apprentice Do

Dispensing opticians help fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. They also help customers decide which eyeglass frames or contact lenses to buy.

Duties

Opticians typically do the following:

  • Receive customers’ prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Measure customers’ eyes and faces, such as the distance between their pupils
  • Help customers choose eyeglass frames and lens treatments, such as eyewear for occupational use or sports, tints or anti-reflective coatings, based on their vision needs and style preferences
  • Create work orders for ophthalmic laboratory technicians, providing information about the lenses needed
  • Adjust eyewear to ensure a good fit
  • Repair or replace broken eyeglass frames
  • Educate customers about eyewear—for example, show them how to care for their contact lenses
  • Perform business tasks, such as maintaining sales records, keeping track of customers’ prescriptions, and ordering and maintaining inventory

Opticians who work in small shops or prepare custom orders may cut lenses and insert them into frames—tasks usually performed by ophthalmic laboratory technicians. For more information, see the profile on dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians.

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How To Become A Dispensing Optician Apprentice

Opticians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and receive some form of on-the-job training. Some opticians enter the occupation with an associate’s degree or a certificate from a community college or technical school. About half of the states require opticians to be licensed.

Education and Training

Opticians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn job skills through on-the-job training. Training includes technical instruction in which, for example, a new optician measures a customer’s eyes or adjusts frames under the supervision of an experienced optician. Trainees also learn sales and office management practices. Some opticians complete an apprenticeship, which typically takes at least 2 years.

Other opticians complete a postsecondary education program at a community college or technical school. These programs award a 2-year associate’s degree or a 1-year certificate. As of 2015, the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation accredited 22 programs in 14 states.

Education programs typically include both classroom instruction and clinical experience. Coursework includes classes in optics, eye physiology, math, and business management, among other topics. Students also do supervised clinical work that gives them hands-on experience working as opticians and learning optical math, optical physics, and the use of precision measuring instruments. Some programs have distance-learning options.

The National Academy of Opticianry offers the Ophthalmic Career Progression Program (OCPP), a program designed for individuals who are already working in the field. The OCPP offers opticians another way to prepare for licensure exams or certifications.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

About half of the states require opticians to be licensed. Licensure usually requires completing formal education through an approved program or completing an apprenticeship. In addition, opticians must pass one or more exams to be licensed. The opticianry licensing board in each state can supply information on licensing requirements.

Opticians may choose to become certified in eyeglass dispensing or contact lens dispensing or both. Certification requires passing exams from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Nearly all state licensing boards use the ABO and NCLE exams as the basis for state licensing. Some states also require opticians to pass state-specific practical exams.

In most states that require licensure, opticians must renew their license every 1 to 3 years and must complete continuing education requirements.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Opticians are often responsible for the business aspects of running an optical store. They should be comfortable making decisions and have some knowledge of sales and inventory management.

Communication skills. Opticians must be able to listen closely to what customers want. They must be able to clearly explain options and instructions for care in ways that customers understand.

Customer service skills. Because some opticians work in stores, they must answer questions and know about the products they sell. They interact with customers on a very personal level, fitting eyeglasses or contact lenses. To succeed, they must be friendly, courteous, patient, and helpful to customers.

Decisionmaking skills. Opticians must determine what adjustments need to be made to eyeglasses and contact lenses. They must decide which materials and styles are most appropriate for each customer on the basis of their preferences and lifestyle.

Dexterity. Opticians frequently use special tools to make final adjustments and repairs to eyeglasses. They must have good hand-eye coordination to do that work quickly and accurately.

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Dispensing Optician Apprentice Typical Career Paths

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Dispensing Optician Apprentice Demographics

Gender

Male

42.1%

Female

36.8%

Unknown

21.1%
Ethnicity

White

60.5%

Hispanic or Latino

26.1%

Black or African American

7.3%

Asian

4.6%

Unknown

1.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Dispensing Optician Apprentice Education

Schools

East Central Technical College

13.3%

Southern New Hampshire University

6.7%

Camden County College

6.7%

San Antonio College

6.7%

University of North Georgia

6.7%

University of Arkansas Community College-Morrilton

6.7%

Arkansas State University

6.7%

James H. Faulkner State Community College

6.7%

Sinclair Community College

6.7%

Durham Technical Community College

6.7%

Kent State University

6.7%

Florida SouthWestern State College

6.7%

Raritan Valley Community College

6.7%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

6.7%
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Majors

Business

16.7%

Biology

8.3%

Public Health

8.3%

Ophthalmic And Optometric Support Services

8.3%

Pharmacy

8.3%

Medical Assisting Services

8.3%

Accounting

8.3%

Electrical Engineering

8.3%

Education

8.3%

Photography

8.3%

Industrial Technology

8.3%
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Degrees

Associate

41.7%

Other

25.0%

Bachelors

16.7%

Certificate

16.7%
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