Few employment sectors provide as many career advancement opportunities as the eye care industry. Since this specialty offers both medical services and retail products, those who want to work in the field can choose between many different employment options. While most people are familiar with the role of the ophthalmologist and optometrist in providing patient care, few realize that there are also options available for those who would prefer to work in a laboratory setting and who have little interest in the completion of several years of college. The ophthalmic laboratory technician is an important member of the eye care team who specializes in manufacturing and assembling the eyeglasses and contact lenses that clinical personnel use to improve vision.
Most of the processes involved in the cutting, customizing, and polishing of lenses has been automated through the use of advanced computer technology. In the past, it was fairly common for the owner of an eye care establishment to create an in-house laboratory where the technician could perform several of the tasks that are now completed by machines. Although some businesses still perform some of these activities within their offices, most have found that it is more cost-effective to outsource these tasks to an independent manufacturing facility that has the equipment and personnel required to produce eye wear on a much larger scale. The majority of ophthalmic laboratory technicians are now employed by these large national and multi-national organizations that have facilities all over the World.
Despite the fact that many eye care production activities have been automated, there are still several tasks that are performed by human technicians. In most cases, an employer who hires a technician will expect the new employee to understand how to operate and maintain the equipment that is used for manufacturing and assembly. In addition, technicians are commonly required to load blank lenses into the machine, mount finished lenses in the frames, attach nose pieces and other accessories, and inspect the final product to ensure that it meets established quality standards. An individual who has worked in the industry for a few years may also be assigned various administrative responsibilities such as training new technicians, implementing quality improvement initiatives, reviewing work orders, contributing to business strategy sessions, and much more.
A career as an optical technician can be very rewarding for individuals who have good coordination and are skilled at solving problems. Most employers will consider applicants who have at least a high school diploma or GED and demonstrate a strong desire to work in a laboratory setting. The knowledge and skills required to become successful are typically acquired through hands-on training and experience. As the technician becomes more proficient, they are usually assigned more responsibilities. While a technician does not earn as much money as an ophthalmologist or optometrist, they can expect to receive a competitive compensation package for their level of education and experience. Most of the technicians working in the industry today earn between $25,000 and $35,000 per year.
Those who choose to pursue the technician career path can expect to benefit from strong job growth for the foreseeable future. As the size of the population continues to expand and the number of Baby Boomers entering retirement accelerates, many industry experts believe that demand for eye care and eye wear will grow exponentially. This will result in job security and improved earnings for all professionals working in the vision industry. Individuals who would like to learn more about alternate employment options within this sector are encouraged to visit the optician training website. Here, readers will find additional details about the ophthalmology, optometry, and optician professions along with facts about education, training, certification, and licensing requirements in all 50 states.