How to Become an Optician

How to Become an Optician

Millions of people around the United States require corrective lenses to help them see well. Opticians are licensed health care practitioners that provide a variety of corrective lenses to many different patients.

What does an optician do?

Opticians prescribe many different corrective lenses to help improve people’s vision and fit their needs and their desired appearance. They help patients with many different eye problems select and fit eyeglasses and contract lenses by reading the prescriptions from optometrists and ophthalmologists. They recommend eyeglass lenses, frames, and lens coatings after consulting with the patient. They measure the patient’s eyes and obtain the previous record for comparison. Some opticians grind and insert lenses and apply tint to glasses. They ensure the eyeglasses properly and comfortably fit the client by reshaping or bending the frame. Many opticians fix, refit, and adjust broken frames and provide clients with instruction on wearing, adapting to and caring for their eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some also specialize in fitting contact lenses, cosmetic shells, and artificial eyes.

What kind of training does an optician need?

Opticians must have at least a high school diploma, but many employers prefer applicants that have formal training. Many opticians complete opticianry programs and complete courses in basic anatomy, optical mathematics, and optical physics. They also learn how to use precision tools and instruments. Most employers provide on the job training and some offer apprenticeship programs. Apprentices learn how to work directly with patients and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. Approximately 21 states require opticians to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, but typically include minimum education and experience and passing a series of examinations. Opticians must complete continuing education courses to renew their licenses.

What are the prospects for a career as an optician?

Employment of opticians is projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The aging population and the increased demand for corrective lenses and vision care will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good due to the regular need to replace opticians that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons. Job prospects will be the best for opticians with advanced education and those familiar with new technology.

How much do opticians make?

As of October 2009, the middle 50% of opticians earn annual salaries between $37,665 and $45,127. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $48,307 (2).

A career as an optician is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in assisting patients with corrective lenses such as eyeglasses and contact lenses. Opticians must have excellent manual dexterity and be able to do precise work. Patience, determination, and motivation are essential. Opticians must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they work with a variety of clients and other professionals. They must also be able to effectively work independently and as part of a team.

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