Dispensing opticians give advice on vision care, and supply glasses and contact lenses to suit their customers needs.
You can get into this job through a university course.
You’ll need to complete a course approved by the General Optical Council, and pass the Professional Qualifying Examinations from the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO).
You can qualify by taking:
- a two-year, full-time diploma course, followed by one year working under supervision
- a three-year, day release course if you’re in suitable employment
- a three-year distance learning course, including a four-week residential block, offered by the ABDO – you’ll need to be in suitable employment
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, including a science
- customer service skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to work well with your hands
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- maths knowledge
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to sell products and services
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Registration: you’ll need to be registered with the General Optical Council
Professional and Industry Bodies: you could join the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, for professional development and training opportunities.
You’ll work with clients who have a prescription to correct their vision from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
As a dispensing optician, you could:
- calculate vision distances and angles
- provide advice and information on a customer’s options for lenses
- measure for spectacles or contact lenses
- use your sales and communications skills to help people choose the right types of spectacle frames
- fit, adjust and repair frames
- give advice on how to care for and get the best out of eye equipment
- refer clients back to an optometrist for further vision tests when required
The following salaries are a guide only:
- Starter: £21,892
- Experienced: £37,890
- You’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm in a store.
- You could become self-employed.
You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks.
As a student you must join the student register of the General Optical Council before you carry out any clinical work.
With experience, you could become assistant manager or self-employed.
You could work as a consultant to a lens manufacturer or as a sales representative, selling ophthalmological instruments. You could also work in a hospital or in university teaching.
With further training, you could go on to qualify and work as an optometrist.