Opticianry

Opticians create and fit corrective contact lens and eyewear for patients according to an optometrist's prescription. Read more about an optician's duties here, and find out what type of education and training you'll need, as well as how much you can earn, as an optician.

Is Opticianry for Me?

Career Overview

Opticianry refers to the production of eyeglasses and contact lenses used to correct vision problems. Based upon prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, opticians modify and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses to patients. As an optician, you'll use specialized tools to measure, fit and adapt lenses and eyeglass frames for customers. Your duties could also include showing customers how to insert and take out contact lenses.

Entry-level requirements include a high school diploma or GED. Formal certification and training programs are strongly recommended, especially as most employers prefer candidates who have completed an apprenticeship program or earned a degree in a relevant field of study.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 68,390 individuals employed as dispensing opticians in May 2013. About 39% worked in optometrist's offices, while around 32% were employed by retail establishments specializing in health and personal care. As reported by the BLS in May 2013, opticians earned a median yearly salary of $33,770. Nationwide, employment of dispensing opticians was projected to increase by 23%, or much faster than average, from 2012-2022, also according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become an Optician?

Education requirements for opticians can be fulfilled through a degree program or an apprenticeship. Accredited associate degree programs in optical or vision care technology, ophthalmic dispensing or opticianry can be found at community colleges, trade schools or universities. In an optician's course, you'll learn how to identify parts of the eye, fit and measure eyewear and design contact lenses. You'll also find out how to choose lenses and frames and fabricate and adjust eyeglasses. Topics in refractometry and the use of computers in opticianry will also be covered.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship programs, offered by some major employers, can typically be found in states that don't require an optician's license. As an apprentice, you'll learn how to fit glasses and contact lenses for patients while working under the guidance of a seasoned optician, ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Certification and Licensing

Voluntary basic and advanced certifications in opticianry are available from the American Board of Opticianry or the National Contact Lens Examiners. Some states may also require a license. To sit for the licensing exam, you'll have to complete 2-4 years of postsecondary training, either through an apprenticeship or a degree program.

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