Career Information

Return to Career Page

Vision Care

Dipensing Optician

Career data updated last on 10/15/2014
Dipensing Optician Dispensing opticians fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists. Dispensing opticians examine written prescriptions to determine the specifications of lenses. They 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 surface and the lens. For customers without prescriptions, dispensing opticians may use a lensometer to record eyeglass measurements. They also may obtain a customer’s previous record or verify a prescription with the examining optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Salary $18.58/hr - $38,640 annually
Significant Points The number of job openings will be limited because the occupation is small.
Work Environment They may work in medical offices or small stores where customers are served one at a time. Some work in large stores where several dispensing opticians serve a number of customers at once. Opticians spend a lot of time on their feet. If they prepare lenses, they need to 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.
High School Prep Knowledge of physics, basic anatomy, algebra, geometry, and mechanical drawing is particularly valuable, because training usually includes instruction in optical mathematics, optical physics, and the use of precision measuring instruments and other machinery and tools.
Academic Requirements

Employers usually hire individuals with no background as an optician or those who have worked as ophthalmic laboratory technicians. The employers then provide the required training. Most dispensing opticians receive training on the job or through apprenticeships lasting 2 or more years. Some employers, however, seek people with postsecondary training in the field.Formal training in the field is offered in community colleges and a few colleges and universities. In 2002, the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation accredited 22 programs that awarded 2-year associate degrees. There also are shorter programs of 1 year or less. Some States that offer a license to dispensing opticians allow graduates to take the licensure exam immediately upon graduation; others require a few months to a year of experience.

Dispensing opticians may apply to the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) for certification of their skills. Certification must be renewed every 3 years through continuing education. Those licensed in States where licensing renewal requirements include continuing education credits may use proof of their renewed State license to meet the recertification requirements of the ABO. Likewise, the NCLE will accept proof of renewal from any State that has contact lens requirements.


Emily Griffith Opportunity School
Certificate Degree Certificate

Return to Career Page