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Become An Optical Technician

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Working As An Optical Technician

  • 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

  • $54,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Optical Technician 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 An Optical Technician

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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Optical Technician Career Paths

Optical Technician
Optician Technician
Senior Technologist
5 Yearsyrs
Optician Technician Team Leader
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Optician Technician Field Service Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Optometric Technician Team Leader Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Optometric Technician Team Leader Owner
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Optometric Technician Optometrist Office Manager
Partner
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Engineer Manager
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Field Service Technician Assistant Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Project Engineer Superintendent
Quality Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Accounts Receivable Specialist Accountant
Accountant And Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Medical Coder Office Manager
Accounts Receivable Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Executive Assistant Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Shift Leader Customer Service Manager Call Center Manager
Contact Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Shift Leader Customer Service Manager Administrative Manager
Human Resources Administration Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Shift Leader Supervisor Unit Manager
Nurse Case Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Adjunct Professor Senior Scientist
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Supervisor Assistant Store Manager
Optical Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Patient Service Representative Service Supervisor Manager, Member Services
Member Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Optical Technician?

Optical Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

57.6%

Male

33.4%

Unknown

9.0%
Ethnicity

White

59.8%

Hispanic or Latino

18.5%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.6%

Hindi

5.6%

Chinese

4.5%

Mandarin

3.4%

Portuguese

3.4%

German

3.4%

Vietnamese

2.2%

Cantonese

2.2%

Italian

2.2%

Urdu

2.2%

Korean

1.1%

Bulgarian

1.1%

Lithuanian

1.1%

French

1.1%

Armenian

1.1%

Russian

1.1%

Thai

1.1%

Nepali

1.1%

Dakota

1.1%

Khmer

1.1%
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Optical Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

16.9%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

7.9%

Monroe Community College

6.9%

All American Career College

5.8%

Camden County College

5.3%

Central New Mexico Community College

5.3%

Hillsborough Community College

4.8%

The Academy

4.2%

Vincennes University

4.2%

University of Central Florida

4.2%

Anne Arundel Community College

4.2%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

3.7%

Strayer University

3.7%

University of New Mexico

3.7%

Central Piedmont Community College

3.2%

Wake Technical Community College

3.2%

Grayson College

3.2%

Indian River State College

3.2%

Front Range Community College

3.2%

Broward College

3.2%
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Majors

Business

17.8%

Medical Assisting Services

10.4%

Health Care Administration

8.6%

Electrical Engineering

7.3%

Nursing

6.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

5.3%

General Studies

5.2%

Psychology

5.0%

Criminal Justice

4.4%

Biology

4.1%

Computer Science

3.6%

Physics

3.3%

Education

2.8%

Accounting

2.6%

Management

2.3%

English

2.2%

Medical Technician

2.2%

Cosmetology

2.1%

Liberal Arts

2.1%

Communication

2.1%
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Degrees

Other

36.4%

Bachelors

25.9%

Associate

19.5%

Certificate

8.8%

Masters

4.5%

Diploma

3.4%

License

0.9%

Doctorate

0.6%
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Top Skills for An Optical Technician

  1. Optical Lenses
  2. Contact Lens Orders
  3. Insurance Companies
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operated a telescopic machine performing a final inspection of optical lenses.
  • Check in and Verify RX- Contact Lens orders.
  • Faxed all necessary paperwork and documents to correct departments including insurance companies and workers comp.
  • Performed broad range of administrative support and customer service, enhancing operations and customer satisfaction while increasing profitability.
  • Make sure optical floor, exam rooms, and offices are organized, clean, and sanitized.

How Would You Rate Working As an Optical Technician?

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