Dispensing opticians fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists. They evaluate the prescription to determine lens specifications and recommend eyeglass frames, lenses and lens coatings after considering the prescription and the customer’s occupation, habits and facial features.
Dispensing opticians measure clients’ eyes, including the distance between the centers of the pupils and the distance between the eye surface and the lens. For customers without prescriptions, dispensing opticians may use a lensometer to record the present eyeglass prescription. They also may obtain a customer’s previous record or verify a prescription with the examining optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Dispensing opticians work indoors in attractive, well-lighted and well-ventilated surroundings. They may work in medical offices or small stores where customers are served one at a time or in large stores where several dispensing opticians serve a number of customers at once.
Opticians spend a lot of time on their feet. Those opticians who prepare lenses must take precautions against the hazards associated with glass cutting, chemicals and machinery.
Most dispensing opticians work a 40-hour week, although some work longer hours. Those in retail stores may work evenings and weekends. Some work part time.
Salary Range and Outlook
Dispensing opticians earn between $21,980 and $55,530, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS anticipates that employment will grow 24% between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Most dispensing opticians receive training on the job or through apprenticeships lasting two or more years. Some employers, however, seek people with post-secondary training in opticianry.
Formal opticianry training is offered in community colleges and a few colleges and universities. The Commission on Opticianry Accreditation accredits programs that award two-year associate degrees in opticianry. There are also shorter programs of one year or less.
Learn More About a Career as a Dispensing Optician
- Watch a video profile about an optician (located in the Health Science category).
- National Federation of Opticianry Schools
- National Academy of Opticianry
- Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
- American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners