How to Become an Optician Technician

Learn how to become an optician technician. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the optical field.

Should I Become an Optician Technician?

Also known as opticians, these professionals take eye measurements and create work orders for the ophthalmic lab techs who will make the eye glasses. Opticians often help clients choose glasses and sometimes repair them or assure a good fit by making adjustments. Those working in small shops may also grind or cut lenses to fit frames. Administrative office duties are often required, in addition. Evening and weekend work hours might be necessary for those employed in large retail stores.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma, though certificates and associate's degree are available
Degree Field Opticianry
Licensure/Certification Some states require licensure; the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) offer voluntary certification
Experience Entry level
Key Skills Customer service, communication and management skills, computer skills in medical, point of sale and project management software, technical skills in manual dexterity and ability to use equipment such as calipers and lensometers
Salary $34,280 per year (Median salary as of 2014 for all opticians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Commission on Opticianry Accreditation, O NET Online

Step 1: Meet the Educational Requirements

Most optician technicians must hold at least a high school diploma or equivalent to gain employment. During high school, prospective optician technicians should take courses in mathematics, science and computer technology. Some technical schools and community colleges offer industry-related courses for students interested in obtaining formal opticianry education. Some states have accredited associate's degree programs for opticians. Certificate programs are also available.

Step 2: Get On-the-Job Training

Many employers prefer to train their optician technicians themselves. New hires typically work under the guidance of an experienced optician technician and begin with tasks such as adjusting frames. Training generally lasts 12 months. Apprenticeships are offered by some companies.

Step 3: Earn Licensure

Optician technicians are required to be licensed in many states. In order to qualify for licensure, individuals generally need to complete an apprenticeship or a formal education program. Specific requirements vary by state, but optician technicians must also pass state exams. Optician technicians must participate in continuing education opportunities and periodically renew their licenses.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

Voluntary certification is available for optician technicians who want to increase their job opportunities, advance their careers or take advantage of the other benefits of certification. Individuals may become certified in areas such as eyeglass dispensing and contact lens dispensing. To obtain certification, candidates must pass exams from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Continuing education credits are required to meet certification renewal requirements.

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