What does an Optician do?

Opticianry is the art and science of optics as applied to the compounding, filling and adapting of ophthalmic prescriptions, products and accessories. Opticians design, order, adjust and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses for patients whose eyesight has been tested by a physician (ophthalmologist) or an optometrist. In Virginia, an optician must be licensed to dispense or sell ophthalmic products.

What might an Optician do in a workday?


  • analyze and interpret optical prescriptions to determine the required lens specifications.
  • measure customers’ facial features (for glasses) or corneas (for contacts).
  • help customers select the style and color of eyeglass frames and lenses.
  • prepare work orders and give optical labs information needed to fabricate and mount lenses in frames.
  • verify finished lenses’ accuracy.
  • adjust finished eyeglasses to fit customers.
  • fit customers with artificial eyes (prostheses) or shells to cover blemished eyes.
  • instruct customers on proper care for eyeglasses and contact lenses.
  • fix broken frames, replace temple screws, and adjust and refit glasses.
  • sell optical goods such as binoculars, cameras, sunglasses and magnifying glasses.
  • assist in selection of low-vision aids.

Developing a Career as an Optician

Opticians may operate their own businesses, manage or work for owners of retail optical outlets, work for ophthalmologists or optometrists who sell glasses directly to patients, or work in eye clinics and hospitals.

How much salary do Opticians make?

Annual Mean Wage

How do I become an Optician?

Students interested in becoming opticians should take challenging high school courses in science, math and English. Following high school graduation (or GED), there are two paths to becoming a licensed optician. Students can either complete a two-year course at an approved school of opticianry or complete an approved and accredited three-year apprenticeship.

Where else can I learn about becoming an Optician?

Professional Associations:

Opticians Association of Virginia
14 N. 8th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(866) 734-9251

Opticians Association of America
3740 Canada Road 
Lakeland, TN 38002
(901) 388-2423

National Academy of Opticianry
8401 Corporate Drive
Suite 605
Landover, MD 20785
(800) 229-4828

State License Requirements for Opticians

A license is required to practice as an opitician in the state of Viginia. For more information on licensure, applications and forms, visit www.dhp.virginia.org/pharmacy.

Virginia Board of Pharmacy
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233
Phone: (804) 367-4456
Email: pharmbd@dhp.virginia.org

Virginia Board of Optometry
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233
Phone: (804) 367-4508
Email: optbd@dhp.virginia.org

Find Local Support

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