Dispensing optician

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Dispensing opticians give advice on vision care, and supply glasses and contact lenses to suit their customers needs.

Salary range: £20,000 to £40,000

How to become a dispensing optician

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

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

More information

More information

Registration

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, for professional development and training opportunities.

Further information

You can find out more about working as a dispensing optician from the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and the General Optical Council.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

As a student you must join the student register of the General Optical Council before you carry out any clinical work.

If you qualified in another area of the EU or EEA and want to work in the UK, you need to check with the General Optical Council that your qualifications meet UK requirements. If your qualifications are accepted, you would then need to contact the Association of British Dispensing Opticians for details of their Professional Qualifying Examination.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

You’ll work with clients who have a prescription to correct their vision from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

As a dispensing optician, you may be:

  • calculating vision distances and angles
  • providing advice and information on a customer’s options for lenses
  • measuring for spectacles or contact lenses
  • using your sales and communications skills to help people choose the right types of spectacle frames
  • fitting, adjusting and repairing frames
  • giving advice on how to care for and get the best out of eye equipment
  • referring clients back to an optometrist for further vision tests when required

Working environment

You could work at a store.

Career path and progression

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.

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