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Optical technicians, or ophthalmic laboratory technicians, create lenses based on the specifications made by optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists. They cut, grind and polish lenses that are then used by customers. Technicians can be involved in every aspect of the creation process, especially in smaller laboratories. Technicians in larger labs may complete only one or just a few tasks before passing off the glasses to another technician. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of optical technicians was $34,460 as of May 2008.
Obtain your high school diploma or GED. This is the minimum education requirement to become an optical technician. Optical technicians do not need to obtain any formal education at the college level, but taking the right types of classes in high school can prepare you to work in this field. A background in shop, science, math and drafting can all be helpful for later work in this field.
Complete coursework through a optometric technician training program. You do not have to obtain this type of training to be hired as a technician, but it can be helpful in providing you with a leg up in the job market against other potential competitors. Schools offering training programs include technical schools and community colleges.
Apply for an entry-level position to gain hands-on experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many optical technicians receive the majority of their training in this way. If you are unable to attend a formal training program through a community college, on-the-job training may prove to be your best bet for developing competency in this field of work.
Seek paraoptometric certification through an organization like the American Optometric Association (AOA). The AOA offers the certification program to experienced optometric technicians. Certification can be obtained after working as an assistant for six months, passing an assistant's certification exam and then taking the certification exam for optometric technicians. The examination fee, as of 2010, was $225.
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