Dispensing optician

See how to become an dispensing optician with our career guide

What is a Dispensing Optician?

A dispensing optician (DO) advises on, fits and supplies the most appropriate spectacles after taking account of each person’s visual, lifestyle and vocational needs. Dispensing opticians also play an important role in advising and dispensing low vision aids to those who are partially sighted as well as advising on and dispensing to children where appropriate. They are also able to fit and provide aftercare for contact lenses after undergoing further specialist training. Career opportunities also exist to develop business skills in marketing and practice management.

What do you get from this role?

Becoming a dispensing optician gives you many routes to develop your career. You can study while you work. Once you have the qualification some dispensing opticians enjoy working in High Street practices, others work in a hospital setting, others may go into roles in the lens manufacturing industry. The job can offer a range of different working patterns. It gives you a chance to interact with people and know that you are making a difference to their lives by providing eye wear, eye care and advice. If you want to progress your career you can choose to focus on management, take further training to become a contact lens optician or an optometrist.

What do you need to apply?

You need 5 GCSEs grades 4-9 or A-C. These must include English, Maths and Science. If you have five years or more experience in optical practice can apply with just English and Maths GCSE grade A-C (4 to 9 from 2017). Access courses are available for those without the right qualifications.

What skills do you need?

You will need to be happy to talk to people and offer advice when they want to book an appointment or choose frames. You will need to be interested in dealing with technical data when choosing the best lenses for each individual. You will need good manual skills for spectacle fitting and adjustments. You will be both people and quality focused.

What does your working day look like?

As a dispensing optician you will spend the day talking to people in practice, helping them select frames and lenses and advising on the best eyewear for their lifestyle. You will need to liaise with the Optometrist who does the eye tests. Some DOs also are involved in management roles, and may have responsibilities from opening and closing the practice, managing teams, training employees and dealing with finances and ordering stock.

How does the dispensing optician training programme work?

You can become a dispensing optician while you work. You can opt to complete a three-year distance learning course, including a four-week residential block, or a three-year, day release course. There is also the option to take a two-year, full-time diploma course, followed by one year working under supervision.

Useful organisations and links

Lens designer

See how to become a lens designer with our career guide. What is a lens designer? A lens designer works as part of the research and development department (R&D). They will be involved in the design, development, and testing of new products and geometries produced with free-form technology. What does a lens designer do? A … Continue reading Lens designer

Specsavers

Campaign aim: to attract teens to become an optometrist with Specsavers Lucy Knock Early Careers Manager says “Specsavers is delighted to work with the Careers in Eyecare Campaign, which we hope will inspire more young people to become opticians. We’re keen on sharing the hidden secrets of the fantastic opportunities we have in our industry … Continue reading Specsavers

STEM

Campaign aim: highlight the STEM ambassador programme to eye care practitioners (ECPs) and encourage them to sign up and visit schools. Careers in Eyecare has developed a range of supportive materials to facilitate ECPs to work in schools, including: How to become a STEM ambassador  Case study: Nick’s experience of his first STEM sessions STEM … Continue reading STEM

Ophthalmic nurse

See how to become a ophthalmic nurse with our career guide What is an Ophthalmic Nurse? An ophthalmic nurse provides holistic nursing care to people with eye conditions and also to people with a visual impairment. What does an Ophthalmic Nurse do? The ophthalmic nurse has many roles caring for people of all age groups … Continue reading Ophthalmic nurse

Work with Careers in Eyecare

Careers in Eyecare is a cross sector initiative to highlight the range of careers in eye care and eye wear. The award-winning campaign was launched by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) in 2020. Nick Walsh of ABDO says, “Careers in Eyecare was born from a desire to do more to raise awareness of … Continue reading Work with Careers in Eyecare

About Careers in Eyecare

Award-winning careers support and advice About Careers in Eyecare Discover the range of careers offering eyewear and eyecare. Careers in Eyecare is a cross sector initiative to highlight the range of careers in eye care and eye wear. The Careers in Eyecare campaign highlights the range of clinical, fashion, design, technical and retail roles available. … Continue reading About Careers in Eyecare