Approximately 29,400 ophthalmic laboratory technicians are employed in the United States. They work in optical retail stores, offices of ophthalmologists and optometrists, medical equipment and supplies manufacturing companies, and ophthalmic laboratories.
Some ophthalmic laboratory technicians enroll in a formal training program to gain marketable technical skills and to develop contacts for job location assistance. Others opt for on-the-job training. High school graduates can apply for such training directly at the personnel offices of ophthalmic laboratories or retail outlets known to hire technicians. State and private employment agencies and classified ads in newspapers and online can be good sources for job leads.
Ophthalmic laboratory technicians can advance as they gain experience and technical skills. They may become supervisors or managers or assist in the training of newer technicians. With additional training and education, many technicians become dispensing opticians. Dispensing opticians are responsible for measuring and fitting customers with eyeglass frames and contact lenses, reading customers' prescriptions for lenses, and preparing work orders for the ophthalmic laboratory technicians who will fabricate the lenses.
Some technicians who gain extensive experience in laboratory dispensing and the managerial aspects of ophthalmic laboratory work start businesses of their own.
Ask a local opticianry or ophthalmic laboratory manager if you can observe them at work to learn what they do.
Pursue the possibility of summer work at a retail optical shop or ophthalmic laboratory where you may have the opportunity to observe and ask questions as well as perform clerical functions.
Join a school or community group that will allow you to become familiar with grinding equipment and tools; becoming familiar with using machinery and heavy equipment will help develop your manual dexterity.