Career Profile: Optician
For many people with bad vision, glasses or contact lenses are an essential part of daily life. Without help from these lenses, short-sighted people might be tripping over everything and far-sighted people would be unable to read. Ophthalmologists or optometrists can help by giving people the right prescriptions, but opticians are the people who actually make the glasses and fit them to people’s faces. If you want to help people see better and to get more out of life, the job of optician might be a good choice.
Being an optician normally means working in a store and dealing with people all day. They sell glasses or contact lenses to customers and might even work with artificial eyes for people who have lost eyes through accidents or disease.
When people have vision problems, they normally get their eyes tested and then go to the opticians with prescriptions for glasses or contacts. The prescriptions might tell the optician that one eye is better than the other or that the person has a common condition called astigmatism. When they make glasses or contacts, opticians have to grind the lenses just enough to match what the prescription says. They have to know how to make all kinds of lenses and to detect problems if they occur.
Another task that most opticians do is to advise people about the style of frames that suit their faces best. Many stores have hundreds of different frames in various shapes and sizes for children and adults. Finding the right pair of glasses for different shapes and sizes of face can be difficult for people, especially if they are too short-sighted to see what they look like in different frames. However, it can be fun to work with them to find the right frames!
Customers coming into the store might have no idea of where to start looking for something that will suit them and also have the right shape and size for their prescriptions. If they have trouble making decisions or if they have specific preferences or financial limitations, the optician might need to give them advice about different options that will still look and feel good. Having a strong sense of style is important in this part of the job.
People can become opticians after finishing high school and two years of training in their field, although they might feel the need for more education. All across Canada, trained opticians need to obtain licenses from the government before they can start working. Job prospects are not very good right now, but they might improve in the next few years as people retire. Salaries vary across the country, between about $17 per hour in the Saskatoon area to $23 per hour in Winnipeg. Overall, opticians earn between $32,000 and $42,000 per year.
Would you like to help people see? Why not become an optician?
Alberta Learning Information Service. “Occupational Profile: Optician.” http://occinfo.alis.alberta.ca/occinfopreview/info/browse-occupations/occupation-profile.html?id=71002674.
Living in Canada.com. “Optician Salary Canada.” http://www.livingin-canada.com/salaries-for-opticians.html.
Opticians Association of Canada. “What is an Optician?” https://opticians.ca/page.asp?id=3
Opticians Council of Canada. “What’s an Optician?” http://www.licensedoptician.ca/Whats_an_Optician.aspx.