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Dispensing Optician

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A Michigan Jobs & Career Portal service. 

 

Job Duties 

Working Conditions/Requirements 

Education & Preparation 

Job Openings & Entry Method 

Earnings & Advancement 

Employment & Outlook 

 

Sources of Additional Information 

Dispensing Opticians design, order, and adjust eyeglasses and contact lenses for patients whose eyesight has been tested by a physician (ophthalmologist) or optometrist. 


JOB DUTIES  

Dispensing Opticians may: 

Analyze and interpret written optical prescriptions (from the examining doctor) to determine the lens specifications required 

Measure the customer's facial features 

Assist the customer in selecting the style and color of eyeglass frames and lenses by advising them of the size and shape best suited to their features as well as to their prescription 

Prepare work orders which give optical laboratories the information needed to make lenses and to mount the lenses in frames 

Verify the exactness of finished lenses by checking the power and surface quality with special optical instruments. 

Adjust finished eyeglasses to fit the customer by heating and shaping plastic frames or by bending metal frames with pliers 

Instruct customers in the use and care of eyeglasses 

Perform follow-up services, such as fixing broken frames, replace temple screws, and adjust and refit glasses 

Tools and equipment used may include: 

Facial measuring equipment such as millimeter rules, distometers, and light reflex pupilometers 

Salt or bend trays (used to heat and bend plastic frames) 

Small hand tools such as pliers, files, and screwdrivers 

Lensometers (used to measure the power of finished lenses) 

Click here to view a video on Dispensing Opticians


OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTIES 

Dispensing Opticians may specialize in these areas: 

299.361-010 DISPENSING OPTICIAN I AND DISPENSING OPTICIAN II design, order, and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses for patients whose eyesight has been tested by a physician (ophthalmologist) or optometrist. 

299.361-010 CONTACT-LENS DISPENSING OPTICIANS (also called Contact-Lens Technicians) order and fit contact lenses. They prepare a work order similar to that for eyeglasses except that measurements for the corneas of the customer's eyes are included. They instruct customers on inserting, removing, and caring for the lenses. They may make minor adjustments to finished lenses to achieve a more comfortable fit. 

299.361-010 SPECTACLES ADJUSTERS specialize in fitting and adjusting frames. 

Some Dispensing Opticians specialize in fitting cosmetic shells to cover blemished eyes or in fitting prostheses (artificial eyes). 

In some shops, Dispensing Opticians may mount lenses in frames, or sell optical goods items such as binoculars, cameras, sunglasses, magnifying glasses, and low-vision aids. 

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following MOIScripts: 


WORKING CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS 

Dispensing Opticians may own their own business. They may also work for owners or managers of retail optical outlets, ophthalmologists or optometrists who sell glasses directly to patients, or for supervisors in eye clinics and hospitals. They generally perform their work independently and spend most of their time dealing directly with the public. They usually work in surroundings which are pleasant, quiet, and well ventilated and lighted. 

They normally work 5 days, 40 hours per week. Some (particularly those working in retail outlets in large shopping centers) may have evening or Saturday hours. 

Opticians who open their own retail dispensing outlet must pay the cost related to starting and operating their business. 

Some may belong to unions or professional associations such as the United Optical Workers Union of the Opticians Association of America. Members must pay periodic dues. 

You Should Prefer: 

  • Activities resulting in prestige or esteem from others 
  • Activities dealing with things and objects 
  • Activities involving business contact with people 
  • Activities related to processes, machines, and techniques 
  • Activities which help people 

You Should Be Able To: 

  • Make decisions using personal judgment/standards which can be 

measured 

  • Deal with people beyond giving and receiving instructions 
  • Work within precise limits or standards of accuracy 
  • Communicate well with others 
  • Use logical step-by-step procedures in your work 
  • See detail/difference in shapes/shadings/measurements of 

figures/lines 

  • Visualize how flat drawings/pictures would look as solid objects 

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve: 

If a customer's face is 25 centimeters from ear to ear, how many millimeters is it? 

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend: 

An optical lens is made from some transparent material. One or both surfaces usually have a spherical contour. 

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce: 

You should be able to write out directions for the care of a customer's eye wear. 

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate: 

You should be able to visualize different eyeglasses on people so you can help them choose the best pair of glasses. 

Although many states require that Dispensing Opticians become licensed, Michigan does not at present. However, Dispensing Opticians may become Certified or Master Opticians by meeting specified standards of education and training and passing exams given by the National Academy of Opticianry. The Opticians Association of America registers Opticians (known as R.O.'s) employed by member firms. Also, certification for Opticians working primarily as Contact Lens Technicians is available from the National Committee on Contact Lens Examiners of the American Board of Opticianry of the Opticians Association of America. 


EDUCATION AND PREPA RATION OPPORTUNITIES 

NOTE: On-The-Job Training provided by the employer or a High School Diploma or Equivalent or a Certificate (program of up to one years of study beyond High School) or an Associate Degree (two years of study beyond High School) may qualify a person for this occupation. 

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in the MOIScript: 

***SCHOOL SUBJECTS*** 

0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH , 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY 

***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS*** 

There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this MOIScript 

Students should obtain the local Career Preparation Consumer Report for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center. . 


***POSTSECONDARY PROGRAMS*** 

122 OPTICAL DISPENSING 

Programs in Optical Dispensing provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to process lenses from a doctor's prescription and to assist customers in selecting appropriate eyewear. 

Courses vary from school to school but may include: 

Optical Theory 

Ophthalmic Dispensing 

Ophthalmic Optics 

Salesmanship 

Optical Laboratory Technology 

Principles of Management 

Anatomy & Physiology of the Eye 

Opticianry Laboratory 

Clinical Experience 

Search for a College and/or Instructional Program  

***APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES*** 

Although this occupation has apprenticeship programs available in Michigan, they are limited in number. See the Sources Of More Information below for name, address and phone number of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. 

You will also find a more extensive list of information sources in the "What Is An Apprenticeship?" document found under the MOIS Supports Menu Items. 

***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS*** 

There are no Military Training Programs related to this MOIScript    

E-Learning Courses and Programs  


OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPERIENCE AND METHODS OF ENTRY 

Since the work of Dispensing Opticians requires specialized training, it is recommended that persons interested in this occupation attend an accredited opticianry school or enroll in a community college program in optical dispensing. Experience can also be gained in military service. Working as a receptionist-dispenser would allow individuals to observe the work of Opticians. Summer or part-time work as a messenger, stock clerk, or receptionist may also be available at an optical laboratory. 

School-to-Work opportunities include: 

informal apprenticeships 

mentorships 

job shadowing experiences 

touring a local Dispensing Optician employer 

internships 

volunteer work with a Dispensing Optician employer 

community service work with an agency 

Although this occupation has apprenticeship programs in Michigan, they are limited in number. Contact the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training Representative in your area if you would like more information. 

The usual method of entering this occupation is through direct application to employers. For assistance in locating job openings, contact unions and professional associations representing Opticians, school placement offices, or a local office of Michigan Works!. Openings may also be listed in newspaper want ads and trade and professional journals. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 

Michigan Talent Bank 

Yahoo! Careers  

MONSTER.COM 

You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services. 


EARNINGS AND ADVANCEMENT 

Dispensing Opticians' earnings vary with the type, size, and geographic location of the employer plus the worker's education, experience, union affiliation, and certification or registration. Self-employed Opticians generally have the highest earnings. 

Nationally, the average annual salaries in 1998 of Dispensing Opticians were: 

Type of 

Independent 

Optometry 

Ophthalmology 

National 

Optician 

Optician 

Practice 

Practice 

Chain 

Dispen. Opti. 

$30,634 

$29,016 

$30,712 

$31,384 

Manager 

$34,089 

$31,701 

$36,143 

$32,564 

In Michigan, beginning Dispensing Opticians earned between $12,355 and $18,544 per year in early 1999. Experienced Dispensing Opticians earned up to $29,661 per year. 

Some Dispensing Opticians may receive uniform and/or cost-of-living allowances. Employers may also pay bonuses which are based on the sale of specific items, such as a second pair of eyeglasses or contacts, tinted lenses, and discontinued frames. 

Salaried Dispensing Opticians usually receive paid vacations and holidays; life, accident, disability, and hospitalization insurance; retirement plans; and paid sick leave. These benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by employers. Self-employed Opticians must pay the cost of any benefits they have. 

Opticians may start as trainees and learn the job through on-the-job training, or they may attend an accredited opticianry school. They may go into business for themselves, become managers of retail optical stores, or become sales representatives for wholesalers or manufacturers of ophthalmic goods. Some Dispensing Opticians become optometrists by completing a minimum of 4 years of an accredited optometry program. 

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EMPLOYMENT AND OUTLOOK 

Nationally, there were about 66,600 Dispensing Opticians employed in 1996. Employment is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2006 in response to the growing demand for stylish eyeglasses and to the increase in vision and health insurance plans offered by employers and unions. Opportunities will be favorable for individuals with an Associate degree in opticianry. Opportunities will be best in large metropolitan areas because many retail optical shops in small communities are operated solely by owners and, therefore, do not need Dispensing Opticians. About 4.0% of them were self-employed. The industry distribution for Dispensing Opticians looked like this: 

SIC CODE 

INDUSTRY 

% EMPLOYED 

80804 

Offices of other Health Practitioners 

46.3 

62593 

used Merchandise Stores, NEC 

40.9 

80801 

Offices of Physicians including Osteopaths 

6.9 

62531 

Department Stores 

2.4 

41380 

Instruments and Related Products 

0.9 

- - 

Other 

2.3 

About 2,725 Dispensing Opticians are employed in Michigan. Employment was concentrated in urban areas. Most worked in retail optical shops and businesses which sell prescription lenses. Others worked for ophthalmologists, optometrists, hospitals, and eye clinics. 

Employment of Dispensing Opticians in Michigan is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005. An average of 100 annual openings is expected, with 40 due to growth and 60 due to replacement of workers who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons. Additional openings will occur as some workers transfer to other jobs or occupations. Factors contributing to the rapid growth rate include an increasing population, public programs providing eye care for low-income families, an increase in insurance plans sponsored by employers or unions, the growing number of people owning contact lenses in addition to eyeglasses, and the popularity of glasses as a fashion accessory which may influence people to buy more than one pair. 

MICHIGAN'S EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK TO 2005 

EMPLOYMENT AND 

NUMBER 

PERCENT 

PROJECTED YEARLY 

OUTLOOK REGIONS 

EMPLOYED 

GROWTH 

JOB OPENINGS 

State Total 

2,725 

17.7% 

100 


SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

Printed Occupational information is available upon written request from the sources below. 

Optical Society of America
2010 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
1-202-223-8130
http://www.osa.org 

Opticians' Assoc. of America
10341 Democracy Lane
P.O. Box 10110
Fairfax, VA 22030
1-703-691-8355
http://www.opticians.org 

U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Apprenticeship
and Training
 

State Director's Office
801 S. Waverly Rd., Suite 304
Lansing, MI 48917
1-517-377-1746

Commission on Opticianry Accred.
10341 Democracy Lane
Fairfax, VA 22030
1-703-352-8028
 

Michigan Works! 

Local Military Recruiters 

College Placement Offices 

 

MOISCRIPTS are Copyright 2003, Michigan Department of Career Development