Dispensing Optician: Job Description, Education, and Skills

Dispensing Optician
Dispensing Optician

In the previous section, we have discussed the difference between Optometrist vs Optician. 

To give a deeper look for those who are interested in the optician careers, this post introduces the job description and how to become a dispensing optician.

What Does a Dispensing Optician Do?

Dispensing opticians help clients to find suitable eyeglasses depending on the prescriptions provided by their optometrist or ophthalmologist. By taking a person’s facial features, occupation, and habits of clients, they assist them in finding the best eyeglass frames, lenses, and lens coatings.

What Does a Dispensing Optician Do?
What Does a Dispensing Optician Do?

As a dispensing optician, you give patients’ specifications such as prescription, material, style, color, and size to ophthalmic laboratory technicians. From these data, they will find and insert the right lenses into the eyeglass frame. Once the glasses are made, you need to reshape the frames to fit a customer’s face.

Dispensing opticians also have the responsibility to fix and fit used glasses. You must guide customers on the way to use and care for their glasses. 

Dispensing opticians not only assist with glasses but also fit contact lenses, cosmetic shells, and artificial eyes if they enroll in additional training related to this field. To select the proper lens size and material, they will measure the size and shape of a client’s eye and give instructions on how to insert, remove and care for eye contacts.

Contacts lenses
Contacts lenses

In addition to eyeglasses support, dispensing opticians also perform administrative duties like keeping records of payments, delivering customers’ prescriptions, inventorying, and ordering materials.

How to Become a Dispensing Optician?

Like other medical careers, aspiring dispensing opticians need to undergo a training pathway. Below are 3 steps to start your career as a dispensing optician.

Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma

To become a dispensing optician, you only need to get a high school diploma. However, you can complete an associate’s degree program or college courses in Opticianry to impress employers. 

You will experience different courses in physics, anatomy, computers, algebra, and trigonometry to get strong and helpful knowledge.

Obtain a High School Diploma
Obtain a High School Diploma

Enrolling in structured apprenticeship programs provided by employers is also a great way to collect working experiences like taking care of patients, fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses, operating technical equipment, and doing office administration.

Step 2: Be Licensed in the State

Dispensing optician license isn’t required for all states but it’s the initial condition in some states. Before taking licensure, you need to check the requirements in the state. Normally, the exam includes a practical exam, a written exam, an exam offered by the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE), or an exam offered by the American Board of Opticians (ABO). To pass these examinations, the training program can take 2-4 years.

Step 3: Take ABO or NCLE Certification

This is an optional yet important step, even if it’s not required in your state. By completing the ABO or NCLE certifying examination, you can show clients and employers that you have attained a certain level of skill and knowledge in Opticianry. All certified dispensing opticians also must fulfill continuing education requirements and renew their certification every 3 years.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that the employment of dispensing opticians is to rise 4% in the period of 2019-2029. The growing number of middle-aged and elderly people is the main reason because they need to meet eye care professionals. Optometrists and ophthalmologists also need to hire opticians to assist and expand sales of contacts and glasses to customers. 

The BLS reports that the annual wage for a dispensing optician is $41,380 in 2020. This is a sustainable salary range for those who only have a high school diploma. However,  don’t forget to get an associate’s degree in Opticianry to advance your career. 


The dispensing optician is a rewarding career allowing you to get knowledge as well as hand skills because no two days are the same with this job. Indeed, dispensing opticians also provide high opportunities in daily practice, constantly changing every day.