Career Information

Return to Career Page

Vision Care

Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician

Career data updated last on 10/15/2014
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician Ophthalmic laboratory technicians—also known as manufacturing opticians, optical mechanics, or optical goods workers—make prescription eyeglass or contact lenses. Prescription lenses are curved in such a way that light is correctly focused onto the retina of the patient’s eye, improving his or her vision. Some ophthalmic laboratory technicians manufacture lenses for other optical instruments, such as telescopes and binoculars. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians cut, grind, edge, and finish lenses according to specifications provided by dispensing opticians, optometrists, or ophthalmologists and may insert lenses into frames to produce finished glasses. Although some lenses still are produced by hand, technicians are increasingly using automated equipment to make lenses. In small laboratories, technicians usually handle every phase of the operation. In large ones, in which virtually every phase of the operation is automated, technicians may be responsible for operating computerized equipment. Technicians also inspect the final product for quality and accuracy.
Salary $20.61/hr - $42,860 annually
Significant Points Overall employment of ophthalmic laboratory technicians is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through the year 2012, reflecting the increasing use of automated machinery.
Work Environment Optical laboratory technicians are employed at wholesale optical laboratories, retail optical stores and eye clinics operated by ophthalmologists and/or optometrists. Most ophthalmic laboratory technicians work a 5-day, 40-hour week, which may include weekends, evenings, or, occasionally, some overtime. Some may work part time.
High School Prep A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Courses in science, computer, mathematics, and computers are valuable; manual dexterity and the ability to do precision work are essential.
Academic Requirements Nearly all ophthalmic laboratory technicians learn their skills on the job. Technicians using automated systems will find computer skills valuable. Training is completed on the job and varies in duration, depending on the type of machinery and the worker’s aptitude. A very small number of ophthalmic laboratory technicians learn their trade in the Armed Forces or in the few programs in optical technology offered by vocational-technical institutes or trade schools. These programs have classes in optical theory, surfacing and lens finishing, and the reading and applying of prescriptions. Programs vary in length from 6 months to 1 year and award certificates or diplomas. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians can become supervisors and managers. Some become dispensing opticians, although further education or training generally is required in that occupation.


Pima Medical Institute-Denver Campus
Associate Degree Associate

Return to Career Page