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Career Story: Optician

Optician

Job Title: Optician

Type of Company: I work for a small privately-owned optical store in northern Virginia.

Education: AS, Ophthalmic Science, Camden County College, NJ

Previous Experience: I completed the program, which included a three-month apprenticeship, then sat for the state licensing exam.

Job Tasks: An optician fills prescriptions for eyeglasses. The process can vary from store to store but usually includes ordering the correct lenses, cutting them to fit the frame, tinting them (if needed) and fitting the frame on the patient. Opticians also make repairs and adjustments to glasses, and place orders for glasses (and/or lenses) used by athletes and hobbyists as well as hunters, divers and engineers. A typical optician has to keep the store stocked, ordering frames, sunglasses and eyeglass cases and keeping a database of inventory, along with recent client records and the books.

The job requires customer service and sales skills, mechanical ability, organization and accuracy in all aspects of the ordering process and finished product. But opticians also have to be versed in the latest trends in eyewear and able to discuss the latest technology in lens materials professionally and knowledgeably.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working with people to get them the eyewear that'll help them to see. The pay is good and the working conditions are generally pleasant.

The bad part of the job is working evenings and weekends, as you're forced to in retail. Years of listening to lenses being ground can sometimes lead to hearing loss as well.

Job Tips: The associate degree programs are a great way to learn the technology, anatomy, and optical formulas you'll need. But for me the best learning experience was taking an internship and getting actual, hands-on experience. Working with clients and in the lab work should tell you right away which side of the job you prefer.

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