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Optical Laboratory Technician


Optical Laboratory Technicians, sometimes referred to as optical mechanics, create eyeglass lenses according to prescriptions and fit them into frames. They are trained to set up and operate the machines that cut, grind, and polish the lenses that are prescribed for each patient. They may also manufacture lenses that are used in sophisticated optical instruments such as telescopes and microscopes. Optical laboratory technicians must pay close attention to detail in order to correctly identify the lens and frame specifications from the prescription. They select and mark proper lens blanks according to specifications using lens-measuring equipment. They are also responsible for mounting the finished lenses in metal, plastic, or rimless frames. Once the finished product is assembled, the technician inspects the eyeglasses to make sure that they conform to the specifications given by the doctor, as well as make any necessary modifications. Their training also allows them to examine broken lenses to determine the original prescription and make a duplicate pair if necessary. Optical laboratory technicians may specialize in one specific phase or operation depending on the size and type of establishment where they work. Individuals interested in this line of work should have excellent communication skills, be able to work well with their hands, be highly organized, and be able to rely on their own judgment.

Work Environment:


Most optical laboratory technicians work in optical laboratories or in a retail store under the direction of a lab supervisor. They may also work for dispensing opticians, ophthalmologists, or optometrists. They do not have much contact with the general public and perform much of their work independently.

High School Preparation:


Students interested in becoming an optical laboratory technician should take high school courses in algebra, chemistry, geometry, biology, mechanical drawing, industrial arts, computer skills, English, and health occupations/medical professions education.

College Requirements:


Individuals interested in optical laboratory technology should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most optical laboratory technicians learn their skills on the job by starting out as a trainee in a laboratory. There are, however, programs that are offered through technical schools and the Armed Forces. There are no certification requirements for optical laboratory personnel.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:


Employment opportunities for optical laboratory technicians should be fair over the next decade. Employment is expected to grow slowly in manufacturing as firms invest in automated machinery that can do the same job as a technician. On the other hand, demand will increase because of the growing middle-age and elderly population that will need more vision care than other groups of the population. Because of the relatively small size of this occupation, only a small number of job openings will be created each year.




Average Annual Salary



Salary Range

$21,300 - $34,800


Professional Organizations:


Opticians Association of America

411 Carlisle Dr.

Herdon, Virginia 20170
Phone: (703) 437-8780

Fax: (703) 437-0727


Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology

2025 Woodlane Drive

St. Paul, MN


Phone: (651) 731-7239

Fax: (651) 731-0410


Commission on Opticianry Accreditation

P.O. Box 3073
Merrifield, Virginia 22116-3073

Phone: (703) 940-9134


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