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

Privacy Policy

Who we are Careers in Eyecare is operated by ABDO, the Association for British Dispensing Opticians. Comments When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection. An anonymised string created from your email … Continue reading Privacy Policy

ABDO College

ABDO College offers you and your team courses which allow every staff member to advance. Start with the Optical Assistant course for a great introduction to optics, as well as an ideal way to formalise knowledge gained in practice. Move on to the Senior Optical Assistant course to develop and grow your knowledge and broaden … Continue reading ABDO College

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

Vivid Optical

Campaign aim: to support the optical industry and highlight Vivid Optical . Danny Alaimo of Vivid Optical says; “Partnering with Careers in Eyecare was an easy decision for Vivid Optical. We are very excited to be involved”.  Examples of content with Vivid Optical: Finding a job in optics

Inspire the next generation

Would you like to work with Careers in Eyecare to inspire the next generation of eye care professionals? We are always looking for people who will tell us about a day in their working life. All you need to do is answer the following questions and send 3-4 photos of yourself at work. Please email … Continue reading Inspire the next generation

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