Summary: Opticians are trained to make glasses and contact lenses as prescribed by Ophthalmologists and Optometrists for patients who needs vision correction. Opticians gather information about the patient such as the level of activity, facial features or occupation and make recommendations about which type of frames or lenses will be best for a particular patient.
Duties: An Optician’s responsibility does not end in helping patients select eyeglasses. In cases where eyeglasses are manufactured on site, the optician will have to cut, grind, and/or tint the lenses; verify that the glasses have been made correctly; dispense and adjust the glasses to better fit the patient. They also spend time repairing broken glasses, and fix any issues a patient may have with their prescription. Opticians also keep records of patient orders and orders from doctors. They are also responsible for contact lens fitting; maintaining the office inventory; and teaching patients how to insert, remove, and clean their contact lenses. In some cases, they help the doctor with medical procedures.
Education and Training Requirements: No particular educational background is required to be an Optician. A High school or GED diploma is usually the minimum requirement, although some employers require graduates of an associate degree. Alternatively, they may also complete an approved three-year on-the-job apprenticeship. High school students should take courses in physics, algebra, mechanical drawing, and geometry. Some states require opticians to be licensed.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: Opticians should be knowledgeable in operating all mechanical equipment needed in manufacturing eyeglasses. Good interpersonal skills are also necessary since they will be dealing with patients and clients. A keen attention to detail and manual dexterity would also prove to be valuable assets. In some cases, knowledge of basic accounting and computers may also be required.
Working Conditions: Work is commonly indoors, mainly in medical offices and optical stores, during normal office hours. Those who work in retail stores may work evenings, weekends, and holidays. They spend a fair amount of time on their feet. Those who also manufacture lenses are also faced with the hazards of glass cutting, chemicals, and machinery. Most work 40 hours a week, although a few work longer hours.
Salary: Opticians typically receive an average of $31,000 per year. Average salaries can vary due to company, area, experience, and benefits. Benefits are usually determined by the industries that employs the Optician. Part-timers or those who work in small retail stores generally receive fewer benefits than those who work for large Optical chains, while those who are self-employed must provide their own.