An optician is an eye care professional who assists customers with eye wear selection and fitting. Opticians are most often encountered in stores and clinics that specialize in the sale of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some large nationwide eye wear stores do not employ opticians because they do not offer prescription lenses or frame alterations. Individuals who help customers in these stores may or may not have formal optician training.
For this reason, opticians are more commonly found in optometrist offices and ophthalmology clinics. Opticians may also open their own stores that accept prescriptions from independent optometrists and ophthalmologists. In this type of situation, the optician has opted to run their own retail establishment. Opticians who operate their own stores will generally need to receive lens prescriptions from eye care doctors before they can provide prescription eyeglasses.
At first glance, the job of an optician may appear to be simple. Upon further investigation, you will often find that many opticians are required to complete extensive education and training prior to practicing on their own. A career as an optician requires many skills that take time, education, and experience to develop. Since eye care is a sub-specialty of healthcare, it is important that opticians be competent in all required skills.
Some states allow employers to train their own opticians without meeting any state regulations while other states have very specific regulatory requirements. These laws usually state that opticians must complete either a 2-year degree program in vision technology or an apprenticeship. Many states further require opticians to successfully pass the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) Examination and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Examination. These exams are nationally recognized as the standard for optician competence assessment.
In addition to the technical skills required to be an optician, there are many personality traits that one must possess in order to do the job well. Opticians interact directly with customers and need to be enthusiastic, outgoing, able to listen, able to educate, genuinely concerned about the needs of others, and able to perform many tasks at one time.
Sometimes, opticians are required to work in lens labs where they prepare and alter eyeglass lenses. If you plan to work in a state that does not regulate the optician industry, your employer will likely train you to perform the necessary tasks. If you complete a degree program or an apprenticeship, you will learn these skills as part of the training program.
When someone asks, “What is an optician?” it can be difficult to give a complete answer. This is because of the many roles that an optician must fill. An optician must be skilled in proper eyeglass fitting, lens alterations, frame repairs, fashion trends, and customer service. They spend a lot of time with customers and must be skilled at resolving conflicts as they arise. Opticians must be excellent at providing the products and services that customers are looking for.
A career as an optician is very rewarding, but you should be aware that it may require some time and effort for you to acquire the necessary skills. The best advice is to be patient and to pursue excellence in everything you do. If you take this to heart, you will do very well and will be highly sought after within the optical industry.