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How to become an Optician

optician careers

What does a Optician do?

Dispensing opticians make up prescriptions from optometrists (ophthalmic opticians) and ophthalmologists (eye surgeons). They may fit and supply spectacles, contact lenses and other optical appliances. Dispensing opticians do not examine eyes.

Dispensing opticians use apparatus to measure clients for optical aids. The work involves the calculation of distances and angles in relation to types of lens. They advise people on types of lens, such as single vision or bifocal, and on frames, which include style, weight and colour.

Opticians also give advice on colour vision, lighting, and the advantages of various optical aids. Many undertake further training to fit and supply contact lenses.

Selling is an important part of the work.

When an ophthalmic optician and a dispensing optician work in partnership, it is generally the dispensing optician who looks after the management of the practice.

What's the working environment like working as a Optician?

Dispensing opticians usually work five days a week, including Saturdays. Part-time work may be possible.

Most dispensing opticians are based in a shop environment.

What does it take to become a Optician?

To work as a dispensing optician you should:

  • be able to deal with scientific and mathematical information
  • be accurate and able to pay attention to detail
  • be able to handle ophthalmic instruments
  • have a pleasant manner and an interest in working with people
  • be patient, approachable and able to deal with people confidently and sympathetically
  • have business skills, which are needed for private practice
  • have an understanding of style and fashion for selling spectacles and contact lenses.

Optician Career Opportunities

There are around 4,000 registered dispensing opticians in the UK. Some work in hospitals, a few teach, but most work in private practice. Opportunities are available to become self-employed. Many work in partnership with optometrists. Promotion opportunities vary according to the company. Many hold assistant manager posts by the time they qualify.

Smaller numbers are employed as consultants to lens manufacturers or as sales representatives selling ophthalmological instruments.

Vacancies in the Hospital Eye Service and as tutors in universities and colleges are very limited.

Registration with the General Optical Council is recognised in many countries abroad.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Optician that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Association of British Dispensing Opticians
Godmersham Park
Tel: 01227 738 829

General Optical Council
41 Harley Street
Tel: 020 7580 3898

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

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Courses to help you become a Optician