Have you thought about becoming an apprentice? It’s a great way to start work, gain experience and get a qualification too. Working in eyecare is a great career for a range of people: there are jobs for you if you are interested in fashion, retail, science, technology, health and business. Read on to find the answers to your questions about apprenticeships.

What apprenticeships are available in the eyecare sector?

There are two apprenticeships are available in the eyecare sector:

  • Optical assistant
  • Spectacle maker

Like any apprenticeship you will need to do a real job while also studying for your qualification.

Tell me more about the optical assistant apprenticeship?

During the apprenticeship, and in an optical assistant (OA) role afterwards, you will develop strong communication skills and listening skills. You should show a passion for working with others to deliver great service and products that look good and are clinically correct.

You may work in a large company such as Specsavers, Boots, Vision Express or in an independent local practice.

You will learn to understand a spectacle prescription, its effects on the eye, and the customer’s vision. You will then help the customer to identify the best spectacles to meet their needs and use non-technical customer friendly language.

OAs learn and use a broad range of technical knowledge about spectacle frame materials and fitting to ensure the best spectacles for the customer. You will use a range of equipment and tools to take measurements of customers faces. You will learn how to adjust and repair spectacles.

To be a great OA, you will work hard, show pride and passion to company and brand values, and ensure all customers receive equal care and attention.

Being an OA is rewarding, as you can help people solve the visual problems that may be stopping them doing their job, carrying out a hobby, or even seeing other people clearly.

Find out more about becoming an optical assistant. This is a level 2 apprenticeship and takes no less than 12 months.

What is involved in the spectacle maker apprenticeship?

A spectacle maker, more commonly known as an optical lab technician, is anyone who uses makes and repairs glasses. It is a hands-on and practical career that will be great for you if you like technology, craft or science.

You may be working within a small glazing workshop within an optician’s practice or in a larger manufacturing factory.

Spectacles come in a wide range of prescriptions, coatings and finishes, frame types and styles. You will be using a range of materials for frames and lenses that will have their own unique properties, and you will learn about how to handle them in specific ways. You will need to learn traditional skills and also how to use computerised technology to glaze lenses into spectacle frames.

You will need to use optical manufacturing machinery and repair tools to carry out the role.

You will take pride in your work and focus on quality and detail.

Being an optical lab technician is rewarding, as you can help people solve the visual problems that may be stopping them doing their job, carrying out a hobby, or even seeing other people clearly.

Find out more about becoming an optical lab technician here. This Level 3 apprenticeship takes no less than 24 months.

What do I do next?

If you’re interested in working in an opticians’ practice as an apprentice, you can find out more about these apprenticeships here:

Optical assistant

Spectacle maker

Why not call your local optician and ask if you can talk to them about these roles?

Becoming an OA or optical lab tech is just the start. With one of these qualifications under your belt, you could go further and become a dispensing optician, get a degree, and even own your own business. 

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