What Skills Do Opticians Need?

Are you interested in a career as an optician? To work as an optician, you'll need technical and non-technical skills. Some skills may be learned through formal training, but many skills will be learned on-the-job. Schools offering Optician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Technical Skills Needed by an Optician

As you help patients to see better and work to fix their vision problems, you'll be required to have a number of technical skills related to optometry. In your work, you'll need to have the right skills to design lenses according to the prescription. You may be responsible for measuring the patient for the correct frames or fitting frames on a patient, both of which require specialized skills and knowledge of how to use measuring and fitting equipment.

As you work to fill each patient's prescription, you'll work with various machines and technical terms, which you must be familiar with. You may need to write up prescriptions and orders for the laboratory, using technical language and ensuring accuracy.

Part of your job may also include inserting lenses into frames. To do this, you'll need to have skills in handling the lenses and frames, using the proper equipment and shaping the lenses without damaging them. When working with glasses, you may also tint lenses, which also must be done with care to avoid damage.

Important Facts About Opticians

Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent
Professional Certifications Two exams offered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE)
Work Environment Optometrist offices, health and personal care stores
Similar Occupations Contact lens technician, optometrists, orthodontists, prosthetists, dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians, medical appliance technicians

Non-Technical Skills

As an optician, you'll need various skills that may not be technical in nature nor specific to the field. Administrative skills, such as filing or answering phones, fall into this category. Customer service is another major skill needed for an optician. You'll work with patients quite a bit and be required to act professionally, keep patients happy and ensure that they're being taken care of while in the office.

Some non-technical skills may complement your technical skills. For example, having patience and manual dexterity will help you as you use your technical skills to insert lenses into frames. Also, you'll need to be able to stand for long periods of time as you carry out your job duties.

Basic skills, such as communication and listening skills, are important in this field due to the interaction you'll have with patients. You need to be able to speak with patients so you can help them choose the right frames, and during fittings, you need to be able to communicate with them to get the proper fit.

Career Information

Preparing for a career as an optician doesn't require a college education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Colleges do offer training programs that can help you to develop basic technical skills, and courses, such as physics, algebra and anatomy, can be helpful to prepare you for this field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), apprenticeships that allow you to combine classroom learning with on-the-job training are common in this field. Through this type of program, you can begin working after high school. All apprentice work is done under the supervision of an optician.

The BLS reported that, as of 2019, about half of the states required opticians to be licensed. Licensing typically involves passing practical and written exams. States that require licensing often require completion of a formal program at a college or university.

Opticians earned a median annual salary of $37,010, according to the BLS in May 2018. Employment growth is expected to be strong, with a 15% increase in jobs projected from 2016 to 2026.

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