Optical Lab Technicians Career Guide


Optical lab technicians are the professionals who are equipped with the expertise when it comes to the creation of lenses and prescription of glasses. They work with optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians to be able to address the visionary issues of patients. In order to attain a good position in such job, there is a need to invest in education, which is possible through obtaining a certificate or diploma. More so, there is also a need to enhance your practical experience in working with specialists.

Job Duties

Generally, optical lab technicians are also known as optical mechanics or manufacturing opticians. This is because they are the ones who make the eye glasses and contact lenses that are fitted for the needs of a patient. The lenses are cut in accordance with the prescription that originates from the optometrist or ophthalmologist. Once the cutting has been completed, they shape the lenses to follow the shape of the frame. In the case of contact lenses, they have to make sure of the right color and coating. The latter is done with the use of a dye at which the lenses are dipped to be tinted. Lastly, they are polished to make sure that there are no imperfections committed throughout the process.

After all of the stages that they have went through in the production of lenses and glasses, it is important for them to check the output with regards to its accuracy and quality. In making them, automated equipment can be used, while there are also some who prefer doing such manually. During training, they may be required to create a duplicate of glasses that have broken. This will require them to carefully examine the pieces of the broken glass. It is also important to note that optical lab technicians do not only create glasses and lenses, but also binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes, among others.

Job Outlook

Optical lab technicians work under lab supervisors, ophthalmologists, ophthalmology technicians, dispensing opticians, or optometrists. Most common employment settings include optical laboratories, health and personal care stores, and professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers. They can also work independently. According to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are at least 27,630 jobs available for such professionals in 2011.

Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the average annual salary for optical lab technicians is $29,920, with the highest being $44,460. The highest salary can be possibly earned from general medical and surgical hospitals.

Education Requirements

There is no formal education or training program that is necessary in becoming an optical lab technician. However, if you would want to be preferred by practitioners, you will need to obtain a diploma in a course that is related to your field of work. Also, having attended training programs will also be beneficial as such can increase your competency on the job. Some of the skills that can be gained through education and training will include cutting, grinding, and edging of lenses. You will also be able to learn about computer technology, design, and industrial arts.

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