How do I Become an Optician?

Mary McMahon

The requirements to become an optician vary around the world, from nations with strict licensing laws to countries in which people may work as opticians with minimal training. For people who are interested in a career as an optician, it is a good idea to research local licensing requirements, which can be accomplished by writing to a professional association of opticians. A working optician may also be able to provide information about the licensing requirements.

An optician might need separate training to properly fit eyeglasses or contact lenses.
An optician might need separate training to properly fit eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Opticians dispense eye wear prescriptions, work with lab technicians to confirm that prescriptions are filled properly, and do other clerical work such as maintaining client databases. They also usually work as floor representatives in stores where eye wear is sold, helping clients pick out the best eye wear and working with clients on financing and other issues, if necessary. Opticians may also do things like performing minor repairs on glasses.

Rates of compensation for opticians vary, and tend to be higher if an optician has special skills or certifications. The working environment is usually reasonably pleasant, with opticians working in clinics, retail stores, and labs. Being ready to work with the public is a definite requirement for an aspiring optician. Opticians also need to be able to work productively with doctors and lab technicians, and they must have some basic knowledge about how corrective lenses work, which they can obtain with training.

In some regions, it is possible to enter this field by completing a two to four year apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. After the apprenticeship is over, the candidate may be able to start work right away, or it may be necessary to sit for a licensing exam. Many nations also have two year college programs for opticians, which provide the necessary training to pass the licensing exam and work as an optician. Students should confirm that such schools are accredited with the agencies which handle accreditation in their countries, and students who want to work internationally may want to confirm that a school's program is accepted as adequate in the nation where they want to work.

There may be some special requirements in some areas of the world. For example, opticians may need to be certified separately to work with glasses and contacts, since these two types of eyewear require different types of fitting and client counseling sessions. Some opticians also choose to go to business school so that they can effectively manage a store which specializes in eyewear, and learn to work with employees and business partners in a productive and pleasant way.

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