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Career profile Dispensing Optician

Also known as Certified Optician, Contact Lens Technician, Dispensing Optician, Licensed Dispensing Optician (LDO), Licensed Optician, Ophthalmic Dispenser, Optical Technician, Optician, Optometric Technician

Dispensing Optician

Also known as Certified Optician, Contact Lens Technician, Dispensing Optician

Interests Profile
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$26,080 - $62,180 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Evaluate prescriptions in conjunction with clients' vocational and avocational visual requirements.
  • Recommend specific lenses, lens coatings, and frames to suit client needs.
  • Verify that finished lenses are ground to specifications.
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What does a Dispensing Optician do?

Dispensing Opticians design, measure, fit, and adapt lenses and frames for client according to written optical prescription or specification.

In addition, Dispensing Opticians

  • assist client with inserting, removing, and caring for contact lenses,
  • assist client with selecting frames,
  • measure customer for size of eyeglasses and coordinate frames with facial and eye measurements and optical prescription,
  • prepare work order for optical laboratory containing instructions for grinding and mounting lenses in frames,
  • verify exactness of finished lens spectacles,
  • adjust frame and lens position to fit client,
  • may shape or reshape frames,
  • includes contact lens opticians.

What kind of tasks does a Dispensing Optician perform regularly?

Dispensing Opticians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Evaluate prescriptions in conjunction with clients' vocational and avocational visual requirements.
  • Recommend specific lenses, lens coatings, and frames to suit client needs.
  • Verify that finished lenses are ground to specifications.
  • Measure clients' bridge and eye size, temple length, vertex distance, pupillary distance, and optical centers of eyes, using measuring devices.
  • Sell goods such as contact lenses, spectacles, sunglasses, and goods related to eyes, in general.
  • Assist clients in selecting frames according to style and color, and ensure that frames are coordinated with facial and eye measurements and optical prescriptions.
  • Heat, shape, or bend plastic or metal frames to adjust eyeglasses to fit clients, using pliers and hands.
  • Show customers how to insert, remove, and care for their contact lenses.
  • Determine clients' current lens prescriptions, when necessary, using lensometers or lens analyzers and clients' eyeglasses.
  • Maintain records of customer prescriptions, work orders, and payments.
  • Fabricate lenses to meet prescription specifications.
  • Instruct clients in how to wear and care for eyeglasses.
  • Prepare work orders and instructions for grinding lenses and fabricating eyeglasses.
  • Assemble eyeglasses by cutting and edging lenses, and fitting the lenses into frames.
  • Obtain a customer's previous record, or verify a prescription with the examining optometrist or ophthalmologist.
  • Order and purchase frames and lenses.
  • Repair damaged frames.
  • Perform administrative duties, such as tracking inventory and sales, submitting patient insurance information, and performing simple bookkeeping.
  • Supervise the training of student opticians.
  • Arrange and maintain displays of optical merchandise.

The above responsibilities are specific to Dispensing Opticians. More generally, Dispensing Opticians are involved in several broader types of activities:

Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is a Dispensing Optician salary?

The median salary for a Dispensing Optician is $38,530, and the average salary is $41,380. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Dispensing Optician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Dispensing Opticians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Dispensing Opticians earn less than $26,080 per year, 25% earn less than $30,540, 75% earn less than $50,150, and 90% earn less than $62,180.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Dispensing Opticians is expected to change by 6.3%, and there should be roughly 5,900 open positions for Dispensing Opticians every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$26,080 - $62,180
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Dispensing Opticians?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Dispensing Optician are usually higher in their Enterprising, Conventional, and Realistic interests.

Dispensing Opticians typically have very strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Also, Dispensing Opticians typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Dispensing Opticians typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Dispensing Opticians typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Dispensing Optician tend to value Independence, Relationships, and Support.

Most importantly, Dispensing Opticians strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Dispensing Opticians strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Dispensing Opticians moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Dispensing Opticians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Dispensing Opticians, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Dispensing Opticians need?

Dispensing Opticians often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Dispensing Opticians usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Dispensing Opticians

  • 2.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 25.2% completed high school or secondary school
  • 32.1% completed some college coursework
  • 17.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 19.5% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.6% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Dispensing Opticians

Dispensing Opticians may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, sales and marketing, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Dispensing Opticians might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Sales and Marketing
Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.

Important Abilities needed by Dispensing Opticians

Dispensing Opticians must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Dispensing Opticians need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Dispensing Opticians, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Dispensing Opticians

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Dispensing Opticians frequently use skills like speaking, active listening, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Dispensing Opticians, ranked by their relative importance.

Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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