Optician Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

An Optician, or Dispensing Optician, is responsible for helping customers achieve the right type of eyeglasses, lense shape or contact lenses in accordance with their eyesight or eye conditions. Their duties include communicating with other eye care professionals to receive prescriptions and send them to Laboratory Technicians, providing customers with sample frames to fit their prescriptions and maintaining accurate customer data regarding their current or updated prescriptions.

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Optician Duties and Responsibilities

Opticians usually work as part of a team of eye care professionals that includes Ophthalmologists and Optometrists. Their customers are people who have had an eye exam and received a prescription for corrective lenses. Opticians need to have a thorough understanding of the different types of optical aids available, and their duties usually include:

  • Interpreting the results of eye examinations, using prescriptions written by Optometrists and Ophthalmologists
  • Advising patients on frame weights, materials, styles and colors
  • Recommending lenses, coatings and frames to suit customers’ needs
  • Measuring customers to determine suitable types and styles of frames
  • Adjusting frames so they fit properly
  • Preparing orders for glasses and contact lenses by checking prescriptions, lens thickness and other specifications
  • Making sure that orders for glasses and contact lenses have been processed accurately

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What Does an Optician Do?

Opticians typically work for vision care businesses, healthcare facilities or retail stores to provide customers with lenses and frame options that suit their needs. They work closely with other Opticians to maintain updated inventory records, assist customers and process payments. Their job is to use their knowledge of optometry to provide customers with helpful feedback about which types of glasses or contact lenses would work best for them. They may also be responsible for using specialized devices to fit lenses to frames for customers.

Optician Skills and Qualifications

Licensing and accreditation requirements for Opticians vary by location. There is no universally recognized certification program. In some places, you don’t have to be licensed or accredited in order practice as an Optician. Employers need to check their local requirements to ensure that job candidates have the proper training and certification.

The following skills are helpful:

  • Training and certification in fitting contact lenses 
  • Excellent attention to detail, particularly for interpreting prescriptions and checking lenses
  • Strong communication skills and the ability to explain technical information clearly to customers
  • Familiarity with optical products
  • The ability to work effectively as part of a team

Optician Salary Expectations

The average Optician’s wage is $15.43 per hour, but it varies depending on skill level and experience. Opticians with substantial experience and good customer feedback and reviews can command higher hourly rates, but there are some entry-level, lower-paying positions available at which there’s potential for growth and more responsibility. 

Some Opticians begin as apprentices, where they learn the profession through on-the-job training, usually at a low wage. For some accreditation programs, hours worked as an apprentice can be substituted for classroom credits, which makes apprenticeship a desirable way to enter the profession.

Optician Education and Training Requirements

Successful candidates will need at least an associate degree in opticianry. Employers look favorably on bachelor’s degrees and extra training. Positions in some geographic locations require Opticians to be certified through an appropriate trade association. Additionally, some locations have their own accreditation systems with specific requirements, and certifications may have to be renewed periodically through continuous professional development. 

Optician Experience Requirements

Although previous experience working as an Optician is ideal, retail experience is also an asset because Opticians deal with customers directly and need excellent customer service skills. Some retail optical businesses offer programs that let people who want to become Opticians gain experience in a real workplace. On-the-job experience is a great way to learn about the realities of the profession and also shows enthusiasm and commitment.

Previous sales experience or business administration training is also desirable because many Opticians are responsible for maintaining accurate patient records, doing inventory checks and predicting demand for products based on sales data and market trends.

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Frequently asked questions about Opticians


What is the difference between an Optician and an Optometrist?

The difference between an Optician and an Optometrist is their education levels, seniority and job responsibilities. For example, Opticians typically need a high school diploma in combination with a certification course. They may also need an associate’s degree in opticianry or a related field. In contrast, Optometrists are healthcare professionals who have completed a doctor of optometry (OD) degree followed by a year-long residency period. 

Because of their differences in education, Optometrists have more seniority when compared with Opticians. Their education allows them to work in a clinical setting, seeing patients and using specialized equipment to determine a patient’s prescription needs or whether patients have eye conditions like cataracts or glaucoma. Opticians don’t have the ability to diagnose eye conditions, but they can provide customers with information about the best frames or lens options after customers receive prescriptions or diagnoses.


What are the daily duties of an Optician?

On a typical day, an Optician starts by receiving shipments from suppliers or laboratories with completed prescriptions or eyeglass frames. They restock display items and call customers to let them know their prescription contact lenses or eyeglasses are ready for pickup. Throughout the day, they greet customers, talk to them about different lens options and communicate with lab professionals to check the status of prescriptions. During downtime, they organize customer files or update prescription data on a digital filing system. Opticians also use this time to check inventory levels and place additional product orders.


What qualities make a good Optician?

A good Optician is someone who has excellent customer service abilities and compassion for others. In combination with one another, these qualities allow Opticians to provide customers with a positive experience when choosing contact lenses or glasses that suit their needs. They stay up-to-date on industry trends and always look to update their product inventory to reflect consumer preferences. Further, a good Optician has excellent interpersonal communication allowing them to connect with customers of a variety of backgrounds and different needs.


Who does an Optician report to?

Opticians usually report to the Optical Manager, or Optician Manager, at an eye care center or retail store. These individuals provide Opticians with sales metrics, organize work schedules and order inventory from suppliers and vendors. Optical Managers also act as a point of communication for Opticians when they handle complex customer situations. Opticians who work as a part of large Optometric clinics may report directly to one or more Optometrists to receive tasks. 

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