Opticians (NOC 3231)

About this job

Opticians fit clients with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, help clients select eyeglass frames, arrange for the production of eyeglasses or contact lenses and mount lenses in eyeglass frames. Student opticians and opticians who are managers of optical retail outlets are included in this group.

Want to learn more? Watch this WorkBC Career Trek video and see what it’s like to work in this type of career.

People in this career:

  • do automated refractions (sight tests)
  • work in optical retail outlets or other establishments with optical dispensing departments
  • may be self-employed
  • must have basic analytical skills, knowledge of computers and the ability to measure according to specifications
  • should also have good communication and interpersonal skills in order to work with customers and provide explanations about eyewear
Common job titles
  • contact lens dispenser / fitter
  • eyeglasses fitter / frame fitter
  • optician, licensed
  • technician, visual orthese / orthotic

Duties

Opticians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • get specifications for eyeglasses or contact lenses from a prescription prepared by an ophthalmologist or optometrist or by analyzing clients' eyeglasses or contact lenses and measuring clients' eye curvature, pupillary distance and bridge width, using optical measuring devices
  • help clients to select eyeglasses by advising on lens materials, frames, tints and anti-reflection coating
  • advise on use and care of contact lenses
  • arrange for grinding and polishing of lenses or grind and polish lenses
  • cut and edge lenses and fit lenses into frames
  • adjust finished eyeglasses to fit clients
  • may supervise or manage the activities of other opticians or student opticians

Work environment

Most opticians work a regular 35- to 40-hour week. Depending on the type and location of the business, opticians may be required to work evenings and weekends.

Opticians work indoors in well-lit, comfortable surroundings. They may work in physicians’ offices, health-care practices, medical laboratories, small stores or large optical chain stores with several other opticians.

Job hazards for opticians may include contact with harmful chemicals and injuries from cutting glass, so safety precautions are taken.

Insights from industry

Job openings will come from retirements and new job creation.

The demand for optical services is rising due to provincial population growth and aging. British Columbia’s growing population will require more optical products, such as glasses and contact lenses. In addition, as B.C.'s population ages, a larger portion of the population will need enhanced vision aids such as corrective lenses and bifocal contact lenses.

Also, with the large number of people using computers in their jobs, special "task-specific" lenses help reduce eye fatigue, further maintaining the need for opticians.

Another trend that may positively affect the demand for opticians is the increased interest in eyewear as a fashion accessory, which may mean more people will visit opticians for specialty optical products.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Opticians may need additional training in order to become licensed contact lens fitters.

With additional experience, opticians may progress to supervisory or management positions or start their own businesses.

Additional resources