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Optician

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Career Overview

Whether you wear glasses or know someone who does, you probably know that the pair someone wears can play a role in how you perceive them. It's not easy for people to choose the right pair of glasses, but with the help of eyewear specialists, known as opticians, people are shown the correct frames for their face shape, the different styles available, and more.If you enjoy helping people create a look that's entirely their own, working as an optician could be a rewarding career for you. It's not uncommon for people to feel upset about having to wear glasses. To help them enjoy the process of finding the frames for them, you will need to be friendly, patient, and as helpful as you can be. If they mentioned they're really into a "mod" look you might suggest the perfect black, sleek frames you just got in the other day. Or, if they feel unsure of the design they want, you might help them find inspiration by showing them a display that features styles celebrities are wearing.Working as an optician gives you the opportunity to meet new people on a regular basis. You'll help people find glasses that are functional as well as stylish. If they would also like to purchase contact lenses, you will help them find the appropriate type. Quite often, people opt to switch between wearing contact lenses and glasses on a daily basis. In this case, you will not only show them how to use their eyewear, but how to care for their glasses and contacts to keep them (and their eyes) clean and in good shape.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
National
$36,250
75,450
14.5 %
Virginia
$44,520
1,780
 

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
High School Diploma or equivalent Associate's Degree in Opticianry

There are a few different ways to become an optician. If you decide to seek employment with your high school diploma, you will need to go through on-the-job training. You will be taught through technical instruction where, for example, you will measure a customer's eyes or adjust frames under the supervision of an experienced optician. You will also learn sales and office management practices. If you decide to seek more in-depth instruction from a skilled professional, you could complete an apprenticeship that would take you at least two years.Interested in a different route? You could complete a 1-year certificate or 2-year associate degree program at a community college or technical school. In these programs, you will take classes in optics, eye physiology, math, and business management, among other topics. You will also do supervised clinical work that gives you hands-on experience working as an optician and learning optical math, optical physics, and the use of precision measuring instruments.

 
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Valued Traits & Abilities

Communication Skills
Decision-Making Skills

Work Environment

As an optician, you will work full time in a store you own, or you could choose to work in an optometrist's office. Since the positions work hand in hand, this type of set up could prove very profitable. It also makes it easier for customers by creating a one-stop shop. When someone is given a prescription for lenses or contacts, they can come to you right after their appointment to purchase the eyewear they need.If you choose to manage your own eyewear store, you can set your own hours. On the other hand, if you work with an optometrist, you will likely need to work during the hours they work so that you are available to connect with new clients. Additionally, you may have to work evenings and weekends to accommodate the needs of your customers.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013