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How Do I Get Optician Training?

Opticians carry out the prescriptions written by optometrists or ophthalmologists.
A pair of eyeglasses.
Optician training involves gaining an understanding of vision problems.
An optician can train to fit people with contact lenses.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
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Opticians are professionals who fill the prescriptions for corrective eyewear issued by optometrists and ophthalmologists. For people who wear glasses or contact lenses, working with an optician who is proficient and reliable is extremely important. Because the creation of corrective eyewear requires precision, knowledge, and a great deal of skill, training for this type of work is considered essential in most countries around the world. While optician training varies depending on local laws governing health care, there are a few basic aspects of training that apply just about everywhere.

In order to be accepted into any optician training program, the student must possess a high school diploma or an equivalent that is accepted by the institution offering the training. Often, some college may be helpful, especially courses that have to do with anatomy or mathematics. Requiring this basic educational foundation helps to ensure that anyone who wishes to train for a career in the field of eye care is ready to assimilate the data necessary to provide quality service to patients.

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In many nations, optician training requires that the prospective optician enter and successfully complete an optician program that is recognized and fully accredited. Depending on local requirements, the program may be offered as a certificate program at a vocational school or as a two-year degree program at a local university or community college. As part of the program, students are usually required to take courses that have to do with higher mathematics, such as geometry and algebra. Physics and biology are also part of coursework often required for graduation. Along with these classes, optician training is also likely to include classes that have to do with ophthalmic and geometrical optics.

An alternative is to attend classes at an optometry school. While this environment is focused more on training optometrists, many of these schools also offer programs that are ideal for optician training. The optometry courses can prove invaluable in later years, when the optician is communicating with an optometrist of ophthalmologist on the specifics of a particular prescription. The courses can also help the optician with customers, as some of the information may assist the optician in helping patients choose lens styles and frames that work well with the contours of the face.

While optician training is not as comprehensive as pursuing an optometry degree, the information that must be absorbed is considerable. From a basic understanding of vision problems to providing personable but professional services to clients, optician training prepares this type of eye care expert to provide quality care each and every time.

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bagley79
Post 7

I didn't think you had to have any extra schooling to know how to fit someone with a pair of glasses.

It probably depends on where you shop for glasses, but I think there are many places where those that help you with your glasses and adjustments have had on-the-job training.

Training to become an optician does include this skill, but I thought most of their training was how to cut and fit the lenses to the frames for the glasses that were chosen.

Mykol
Post 6

I worked at a store that sold glasses and contacts while I was going to college. I didn't have any optician training, but I was trained to help people learn how to wear their contact lenses.

This was a very interesting job, and while it did require some training and a lot of patience, it was very rewarding.

Our store was connected with an optometrists office. We had one optician on staff and it was his responsibility to prepare the orders for the glasses.

There was a lab on site, and if it was a single vision prescription, he could have lenses ready in about an hour for some customers.

Azuza
Post 5

If you want dispensing optician training, I would recommend just going for a two year degree instead of going to a vocational school. I've noticed in the last few years a lot of employers are putting a huge emphasis on degrees. So even if you can get a job now with just some vocational training, it might not always be that way.

Plus, if you go to a community college for a two year degree, your credits will transfer if you decide to continue your education in a few years. Most vocational school credits won't transfer to a university.

strawCake
Post 4

@JessicaLynn - It's nice to have someone there to help you pick out the right frames. I'm glad opticians get this kind of training.

I've actually seen a few advertisements lately for online optician training, and I just don't see how that would work. So much of the opticians job is hands on, I don't see how you could do all of your training for that job online.

I could imagine some kind of hybrid might work though: lab classes in person, lecture classes online. But I think I would be wary of any optician training program that was exclusively online.

JessicaLynn
Post 3

I wore glasses when I was in elementary school and middle school, so I always associate them with my awkward face. I had huge, unflattering glasses to top it off too! When I got to high school I decided to get contact lenses and never looked back.

However, about a year ago I decided to try glasses again. I'm in my late 20's now, and well out of my awkward phase. I was really nervous about picking a flattering pair though, and the optician helped me so, so much! I love the frames he helped me pick out.

So I can definitely see why helping people pick frames is part of licensed optician training.

jennythelib
Post 2

@robbie21 - I think *any* job that involves working directly with people requires a lot of patience! But you're right, anything where "picking out" is involved will require even more than other jobs.

Personally, I think training to be an optician would be a good idea for the kind of person who enjoyed working in a retail environment, like a department store, but it ready for "more": better pay, better benefits, and more responsibility. There's also the technical aspect of grinding the lenses, of course.

There's probably a different work environment, too, depending on whether the optician works for an independent doctor of optometry or at a mass merchandiser like Lens Crafters.

robbie21
Post 1

An optician career can be a nice job if you want the stability and benefits of working in a healthcare setting but do not want to do any of the "grosser" medical careers, like phlebotomy.

I think you must have to have the patience of a saint, though, to help people pick out glasses! I know when I go in, it usually takes me about an hour to pick out my frames and then what lens options I want. I really rely on the advice of the optician to help me pick something that works for my face.

And my husband takes even longer. He might spend two hours picking out frames and half an hour having them adjusted, then come back to have them adjusted again, then decide he hates the frames and needs them replaced... Again, patience of a saint!

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