There are lots of careers and it can be hard to know where to start when making choices. One thing to look out for is a career with a pathway that will allow you to start work, gain experience and take qualifications so you can progress.
Working in eyecare, there are a range of entry level jobs that allow you to earn and learn at the same time. You could start as an optical assistant or lab technician. There are apprenticeships for both these career routes, so you can combine work and study.
If you complete the Optical Assistant course with ABDO College this gives you access to join a course in Ophthalmic Dispensing and become a dispensing optician (DO). Dispensing opticians have more responsibility in practice than an optical assistant. Study for three years and you will learn far more about lenses and frames than you ever thought was possible.
Once you have become a dispensing optician, you can go on to become a contact lens optician or a low vision optician. Being a contact lens optician gives you the chance to take on a more clinical role and help people see well. You can also learn more about eye disease and study to take part in minor eye condition schemes. A low vision optician helps people who are blind or partially sighted make the most of the vision that they have remaining. Even people who are blind may still have some useful vision, and the right support and visual aids can transform their lives.
Some people go straight from optical assistant to studying to become an optometrist, while others do the DO course first. Whatever route you take, there is a pathway that you can step on and off as you want. Many entry level courses offer some or all online study. As you progress you may choose a course that combines online study with block release or day release. Alternatively you can choose a university course: there are around 13 universities offering courses in Optometry, from the Highlands and Islands right down to Plymouth so there may be a university near you to visit and find out more.