In the hunt for jobs that can survive in any economic climate
, vision care has slowly but surely come to the forefront. Adults of all ages are discovering that careers as a dispensing optician offer job stability and a decent salary after just a few short years of training. Whether you are just starting out after high school, or looking for a job change after years in the workforce, we have the facts to help you decide whether a career in opticianry is the right choice for you.
What is Opticianry?
Once a patient receives a prescription for glasses or contacts from an optician or ophthalmologist, the dispensing optician is responsible for creating the eyewear for the patient's specific needs. This professional uses a host of diagnostic equipment to measure the thickness, width and curvature of the cornea to fit contact lenses precisely to the patient. In some cases, the dispensing optician will be responsible for actually cutting the lenses and placing them into the frames, as well as adding tinting or protective coating to the lenses themselves.
Once the eyewear is complete, the dispensing optician meets with the patient once again to ensure the glasses fit properly and make adjustments as needed. These employees might also help clients who need repairs to their glasses or educate them about appropriate care of their eyewear. Some also perform administrative duties, such as maintaining a database of customer prescriptions and tracking inventory and sales.
Dispensing opticians work in a range of venues, including doctor's offices and retail stores. Most work full time, but part-time shifts are also available through some optical departments. These professionals spend a significant amount of time on their feet, working directly with customers to ensure they get the right eyewear for their needs.
What is the Job Outlook?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
, jobs for dispensing opticians are expected to grow at an average rate, since there will be a consistent need for corrective eyewear and contact lenses. Currently, 22 states across the country require dispensing opticians to be licensed before they can practice. Many optical businesses also require their employees to have formal training in vision care, such as a two-year degree
from a community college that offers an accredited
program in opticianry. We have examples of some of these programs for your consideration.
According to a recent report at the Durham News
, the opticianry program at Durham Technical Community College
has been growing at a steady clip for nearly a decade. When the program began in 1991, just five students had enrolled. Today, courses are capped at 30 students to ensure ample individual instruction. The Durham program attracts students from all over North Carolina because it is the only program in the state accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation and approved by the North Carolina Community College System.
In Washington, students can prepare for a career as a dispensing optician at Highline Community College
. This institution offers apprenticeship training for those who are already working in the vision care industry and want to expand their career options. The apprentice program is a big commitment, requiring 6,000 hours and anywhere between three and six years to complete. However, the investment pays off for students who complete the training with marketable skills in use of the machines, patient care and lens preparation.
In Tampa, Florida, students interested in the field of vision care can find the program they are looking for at Hillsborough Community College
. This campus offers a complete training program in opticianry that includes courses in anatomy and physiology of the eye and ophthalmic orientation. Students will learn the ins and outs of both eyeglasses and contact lenses, as well as how to work with patients to provide the highest quality of care possible. The program emphasizes the need to obtain hands-on training while in school and helps students find internship programs
through optical businesses in the area.
The field of opticianry is an ever growing one, with many job opportunities for prospective employees that boast the proper training and qualifications. In just a few short years, individuals can get all the training they need to begin working in the opticianry industry, creating corrective eyewear for clients with a wide range of needs and preferences. By enrolling in an accredited program like one of those listed above, students of all ages and experience levels can get on the fast track to a rewarding career in vision care.