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Precision Lens Grinder: Job Description & Career Info

Learn what precision lens grinders do. See what kind of education and skills are required for employment. Find out what the career prospects are to see if this job is right for you.

Career Definition for a Precision Lens Grinder

Precision lens grinders are one type of ophthalmic laboratory technician, and they are responsible for filling prescriptions from the offices of opticians and optometrists. Precision lens grinders take plastic or glass lens blanks and grind them to the specifications of patients' vision prescriptions using computerized grinding equipment. They then check their work by taking measurements of the curvatures of the ground lenses. Precision lens grinders typically work in laboratories and optics centers outside of the patient and doctor setting.

Education No formal education required, but certificate or associate's degree in ophthalmic technology or an apprenticeship may be helpful
Job Skills Focus, efficiency, independence, dexterity, attention to detail
Median Salary (2015)* $29,860 for ophthalmic lab technicians
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% for ophthalmic lab technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While there are no formal education requirements for becoming a precision lens grinder, many successful entrants into the field have earned 1-year vocational certificates or associate's degrees in ophthalmic technology. These educational programs typically involve classes in eye anatomy and practical experience with grinding equipment and measuring devices. The Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology offers continuing education credits that can help precision lens grinders advance their careers. It may also be possible to obtain a position as a precision lens grinder through an apprenticeship.

Skills Required

Precision lens grinders are dexterous and capable of performing exacting work where every detail counts. Precision lens grinding involves repetitive motion and long periods of focus. Precision lens grinders must be capable of working efficiently and independently.

Career and Economic Outlook

Though the number of eyewear prescriptions is expected to increase as the population ages, the affordability and availability of laser correction for vision problems will balance the need for precision lens grinders, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment opportunities for ophthalmic laboratory technicians are expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate compared to other career fields - 10% - from 2014-2024, per the BLS. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians, including precision lens grinders, earned a median annual wage of $29,860 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

You might consider these other career options in optics:

Dispensing Optician

A dispensing optician helps vision care patients choose appropriate eyeglass frames and contact lenses based on the prescription written by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. He or she makes recommendations as to frame style or lens treatments as needed and takes measurements for eyewear work orders. Dispensing opticians also advise customers on the fit, care and repair of their eyewear. Dispensing opticians may receive on-the-job training or complete a postsecondary certificate program. State licensing may be required; professional certification is also available in dispensing eyeglasses and contact lenses. The BLS estimates that jobs in this field will increase 24% from 2014-2024; dispensing opticians earned a median annual pay of $34,840 in 2015.

Optometrist

An optometrist provides eye care to patients, including diagnosing eye diseases, illnesses and conditions like glaucoma; conducting vision tests; prescribing corrective lenses in cases of near- or far-sightedness; and treating eye injuries. Optometrists may also provide pre- or post-surgical eye care. However, optometrists don't perform eye surgery, though ophthalmologists do. Optometrists usually earn bachelor's degrees and then 4-year Doctor of Optometry degrees. State licensure is required. American Board of Optometry certification is also available. Optometrists can expect job growth of 27% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. They earned a median annual salary of $103,900 in 2015.

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