Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician

Ophthalmic laboratory technicians, sometimes referred to as optical mechanics, are responsible for making prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. Read on to learn more about entry-level requirements for ophthalmic laboratory technicians, as well as how much they earn in the field.

Is Ophthalmic Technology For Me?

Career Overview

Unlike many other workers in the eye care industry, ophthalmic laboratory technicians do not treat eye conditions or write prescriptions. In fact, workers in this field actually spend very little time, if any, with patients. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians fill prescriptions written by doctors, then cut, tint and polish each lens to fit the proper specifications. As an ophthalmic laboratory technician, you'll spend most of your work day manufacturing lenses for eyeglasses, contacts and other instruments, such as binoculars or microscopes.

Although some technicians still create lenses by hand, most of them work with automatic machinery. Some ophthalmic lab technicians who gain enough experience go on to become laboratory supervisors or managers.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed ophthalmic lab technicians was expected to grow by 12% nationwide from 2012-2022, which is about average compared to all career fields. Job growth during this time is attributed to an increasing population of middle-aged adults who will need eyeglasses and vision care as they get older. As of May 2013, the mean annual salary for an ophthalmic laboratory technician was $30,450 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become an Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician?

Education

Many aspiring technicians are able to find work after earning a high school diploma and completing an on-the-job training program. However, a few schools offer ophthalmic laboratory technician certificate programs, which may give you an advantage over other job candidates. In a certificate program, you may study eye anatomy, ophthalmic dispensing, contact lenses and vision care. In addition to classroom-based courses, you'll complete hands-on training sessions that teach you how to polish lenses, assemble frames for eyeglasses and operate specialized machines.

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