Optical technicians make optical parts for scientific instruments such as microscopes and telescopes, lenses for spectacles and contact lenses.
You could be:
- preparing customer prescriptions to the highest standard using the latest computer-controlled equipment
- shaping moulded glass or plastic for various lenses including spectacle lenses and contact lenses
- using lathes and other hand or machine tools to grind, smooth and polish the lenses
- making up complex lenses by hand – most simple lenses are made by machine
- making spectacle lenses the right shape for the frame and fitting them into the frame
- finishing spectacle lenses by glazing, or applying tints and polishes
- assembling and testing the instrument or pair of spectacles
- cleaning and maintaining equipment and machinery
- ordering stock.
Pay rates vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for optical technicians in the UK tend to be around £15,000, rising with experience to £24,000 a year.
The apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £5.28 an hour (1 April 2023).
- You would work in a factory, workshop or laboratory.
- You usually work around 37-40 hours a week.
- It may be noisy.
- You'd wear a white coat and sometimes eye protection.
Workforce Employment Status
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- You do not always need formal qualifications but most employers will ask for subjects at National 4 or 5 including English, Maths and science or technological subjects.
- You would apply for a position with a company that offers on the job training within their optical laboratory.
You could work for a manufacturing company, a large prescription company, an optical firm or a small optician’s practice.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- able to organise your workload
- interested in science and maths
- eager and willing to learn
- able to concentrate for long periods
- able to work as part of a team.
You should have:
- good communication skills
- a good eye for detail
- good practical skills
- numeracy skills
- good hand to eye coordination
- a steady hand.
- Training is on the job.
- It takes around two years to become a fully qualified optical technician.
- You may be able to move into a supervisory job.
- You may move into designing instruments.
- You could take further qualifications to become a dispensing optician.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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