How to Become an Optician

How to Become an Optician

The usual education of a dispensing optician is working as another optician's apprentice for roughly two years. However, some community colleges and universities now offer associate's degrees in optometry accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA), providing an alternative method of gaining the necessary credentials.

1. Complete an Apprenticeship (2 Years)

Being an apprentice is a good option because there are so few optician degree programs in the country and they are sprawled out across the states.

Attending one of these programs can be inconvenient for people who need a full-time income or have other responsibilities like a family. If you want to become an apprentice there are some requirements you must be aware of. It's important to check with your state to see what the requirements are before starting a program.

Requirements can vary depending on state regulations and employer expectations, but they share common themes. Some of these requirements are the following:

  • A completed application
  • A high school diploma, transcript, or equivalency certificate
  • Sponsor information
  • Professional history
  • Criminal background check
  • Applicant statement
  • Health history
  • Letters of reference

2. Earn an Associate's Degree (2 Years)

If you decide you want to complete a degree program, be prepared to probably re-locate, as there aren't many programs in the country, and spend one-to-two years completing the program.

The programs consist of in-class instruction, labs, and practical instruction. You will have supervised clinical experience in which you learn the ropes and orient yourself with all the duties belonging to this position.

The curriculum consists of the following:

  • Assessment of the Visual System
  • Business Management
  • Contact Lens Clinical Experience (Internship or Externship)
  • Contact Lens Fitting
  • Contact Lens Modification
  • Contact Lens Theory
  • Dispensing Clinical Experience (Internship or Externship)
  • Dispensing Theory
  • Fabrication Techniques
  • Geometric Optics
  • Ocular Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology
  • Ophthalmic Materials
  • Ophthalmic Terminology
  • Ophthalmic Optics
  • Opticianry Sales Techniques
  • Patient/customer/client Relationships
  • Prescription Analysis
  • Production & Quality Control Methods
  • Professional Ethics
  • Relationships with Eyecare Professionals and Laboratory Personnel
  • Safety and Environmental Health
  • Scope of Practice
  • Spectacle Fitting and Adjusting
  • State and National Opticianry Regulations

General Education Content Areas

  • Behavioral or Social Science
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science