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.