An ocularist performs a range of tasks to make artificial eyes for patients and ensure that they fit properly. The steps you’ll need to take to become an ocularist may depend on the country in which you live. In most places, however, an apprenticeship and related courses are used in lieu of typical higher education and training. You may also become board-certified as an ocularist, which often involves taking an exam and paying a fee. In many jurisdictions, you will be an ocularist after you complete the apprenticeship and coursework requirements, but board certification may help you obtain a job or secure clients.
To become an ocularist, you will need education and training in creating artificial eyes for people who have lost natural eyes. The work you perform may help people who have lost eyes due to injury as well as those who have lost them because of cancer or other medical conditions. In most cases, you will need to secure an apprenticeship under an ocularist who has board certification. You can often find internship opportunities listed on the websites of ocularist societies, such as that of the American Society of Ocularists. Usually, such apprenticeships incorporate study of this profession with hands-on practice. For example, in some countries, aspiring ocularists have to spend about five years getting hands-on training and experience.
Sometimes additional coursework is required when you are interested in this career. For example, you may need to complete courses in such subjects as fitting theory, office management, physiology, and tinting in addition to studying under an ocularist. You may also have to learn about materials as you study to become an ocularist. Typically, organizations that help prepare aspiring ocularists for board certification either offer the required courses or provide referrals to schools offering approved courses. Study can include not only traditional classes but also workshops.
In order to get board certification as an ocularist, you will have to pass a certification exam. This type of exam usually has a written portion that contains multiple choice questions and a hands-on portion in which you will prepare an artificial eye in order to demonstrate your skills. The components of this type of exam will likely vary, however, depending on the jurisdiction in which you plan to pursue this career and the specific certifying authority. In many places, such organizations are referred to as boards of ocularists or something similar.
Once you've met the requirements to become an ocularist, you have a number of choices for earning money. You may, for example, decide to start your own business, which will likely mean obtaining a business license, creating a business plan, and securing a space in which to work. Alternatively, you can pursue a job working in a laboratory dedicated to producing artificial eyes or in an eye doctor's office. Some eye clinics also hire individuals to produce and fit artificial eyes.