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Online Optician Training: Optician School

Individuals interested in working with ophthalmologists or optometrists to help people see better can complete an optician training program. Optician schools prepare students for a career in a medical office, optical store, department or club store, and other settings, to support an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Twenty-two States require dispensing opticians to be licensed, and optician training programs prepare students to take the state practical examination, written examination and certification examinations offered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO), as well as the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Students who are not located near an optician school, or those who wish to work while completing their education, may consider enrolling in online optician training programs.

Optician Training Programs

Optician training programs prepare students to perform a number of duties and take on various roles as a dispensing optician. In addition to filling eyewear prescriptions and writing work orders, the student learns how to:

  • Take a clients' facial measurements
  • Help a client select the types of glasses that are most appropriate for them
  • Work with insurance companies to maximize clients' benefits
  • Track sales and inventory
  • Customize the fit of glasses to suit the client's face
  • Keep customer records up-to-date
  • Fit contact lenses and coverings for damaged eyes

Individuals who successfully complete an optician training program work with optometrists and ophthalmologists in a clinic or medical setting, to fill prescriptions, dispense eyewear, and manage the basic operations of the center. Most opticians work in either a medical office or retail environment.

Some colleges and universities offer two-year optician training programs that lead to an Associate of Science degree. Students who complete these programs are qualified to begin a career as an optician or optometric technician shortly after graduation, and typically provide clinic experience, as well as classroom training. Students learn how to perform various roles in an optical laboratory setting, fabricate and fill spectacle lens prescriptions, and learn about the general processes and procedures of an optometry clinic or laboratory.

What to Expect When Attending Optician School

Optician schools provide hands-on training and classroom training so that students can pass their state certification and licensing examinations. Most employers require opticians to be certified by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Opticians are required to re-certify every three years.

Most optician schools require students to have completed a high school diploma or have their GED, and may offer one or two-year certificate programs, diploma programs or an associate's degree in the field. The optician school may offer general and specialized courses including:

  • Geometrical optics
  • Ophthalmic optics
  • Optical instruments
  • Optical machinery
  • Optical tools
  • Anatomy and physiology of the eye
  • Ophthalmic procedures
  • Contact lens methods and procedures
  • Ophthalmic lens finishing
  • Ophthalmic dispensing
  • First Aid and emergency care

Online Optician Training Programs

Prospective opticians that do not live near an optician school or educational center that offers optician training programs may consider enrolling in online optician training programs. Online optician training programs are also well-suited for students who are working full- or part-time and cannot commit to an offline program, and those who are taking care of a family and need a more flexible schedule.

Online optician training programs are typically delivered entirely over the Internet, and may include tutorials, simulations and online quizzes or exams. Students may be required to participate in discussion forums, submit their assignments online, attend live lectures, or download course materials over the course of the training program.

Some online optician training programs also offer continuing education courses, such as:

  • Polarised lenses
  • Basic contact lenses
  • Gonioscopy
  • Contact tonometry
  • Cataracts
  • Pachymetry
  • AMD prevention

Career Prospects After Optician Training Programs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that any optician is eligible to apply to the ABO and NCLE for certification of their skills, and must renew their certification through continuing education courses every three years. Experienced dispensing opticians may consider opening up their own optical stores or serve as a manager or optical representative for a private company.

Employment of dispensing opticians is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations through 2018 as demand for corrective lenses and custom eye wear continues to rise. As of May 2008, the median annual wages of dispensing opticians were $32,810. The majority worked in general merchandise stores, health and personal care stores, physicians offices and department stores.

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