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Helping people see more clearly every day can be rewarding task.  In the field of optometry, the knowledgeable work of the optician, who helps ensure eyeglasses and contact lenses fit properly, is essential.

Optician Job Description

Opticians help select and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses for people with prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. Opticians will help recommend eyeglass frames to fit different face shapes, noses, and those that accommodate different prescriptions. When they fit eyeglasses, opticians must use sophisticated instruments to measure various characteristics of the client’s face and eyes.  They also look at features like thickness, width, curvature, and topography of the eye’s cornea. On records, they keep their customer’s prescription history, so that they may be called to fit a new pair of glasses or lenses if the customer’s supply runs low or the glasses break.

There are other essential duties to being an optician. Other responsibilities include fixing and refitting broken frames, instructing clients on proper care of glasses, as well keeping track of payments, inventory, and sales. To measure and fit for contact lenses, opticians measure the size and shape of the eye, help select a comfortable lens material and brand, then prepare work orders for it. During visits, opticians will demonstrate how to properly insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. 

Opticians work indoors in medical offices, optical stores, or in department stores. They spend a good amount of time on their feet. If they prepare lenses, they need to take care against the safety hazards of chemicals, glass cutting, and machinery. Most opticians work normal business hours, though retail shops may have evening and weekend hours.

Optician Training and Degree Programs

A high school diploma and some college credit is usually required to enter into the field. Classes in science, basic anatomy, and math are particularly valuable. Formal training in the field is offered in community colleges and a few four-year colleges and universities. As of 2008, there were 22 degree programs in the U.S. that were accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation. Graduating from an accredited program can be greatly advantageous in your job search later. Training may include optical math, optical physics, and the use of measuring instruments and other tools.

Optician Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Median annual wages of dispensing opticians were $32,810 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $26,170 and $41,930. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,580.”