Dispensing Optician


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

Entry Requirements

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


You’ll need:

  • 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

Working Conditions

  • 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.