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Optometric Technician vs. Optician: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Optometric technicians and opticians are both involved in the field of eye care. However, there are some key differences between the two positions. In this article, we’ll discuss the job duties, education requirements and salary expectations for optometric technicians and opticians. We’ll also provide some helpful tips for those interested in pursuing a career in this field.

What is an Optometric Technician?

Optometric Technicians work alongside Optometrists to provide comprehensive eye care to patients. They conduct preliminary testing, such as measuring visual acuity, before the Optometrist sees the patient. They also take and develop retinal photos, administer eye medications, instruct patients on how to use contact lenses and perform basic office duties. Optometric Technicians often specialize in a specific area of optometry, such as contact lenses, low vision or pediatrics. They may also be certified to dispense eyeglasses and other vision devices.

What is an Optician?

Opticians are eyewear specialists who help patients select the right type of glasses or contact lenses for their vision needs and facial features. They take precise measurements of patients’ faces in order to create custom-fitted eyewear. Many Opticians also help patients adjust to their new glasses or contacts, and teach them how to properly care for their new eyewear. Opticians typically work in retail settings, such as optical stores, eyewear departments in department stores, or in private practices. Some Opticians may also work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

Optometric Technician vs. Optician

Here are the main differences between an optometric technician and an optician.

Job Duties

Both opticians and optometric technicians take measurements of patients’ eyes, but their duties differ. An optician measures a patient’s eye using equipment like autorefractors and keratometers to determine the prescription for glasses or contacts. They also use this information to create customized lenses and fit them into frames.

An optometric technician assists an optician by performing tasks like polishing glasses and organizing inventory. However, they also perform diagnostic tests on patients with visual impairments to help them see better. Optometric technicians may also adjust the frames that opticians have made and assist in training patients how to properly wear and care for their eyewear.

Job Requirements

Optometric technicians typically need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some may have an associate degree. They must also complete on-the-job training, which can last up to a year. Some states require optometric technicians to be licensed.

Opticians usually need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete on-the-job training, which can last up to two years. Some states require opticians to be licensed.

Work Environment

Optometric technicians work in a variety of settings, including optometry offices and hospitals. They may also work for the military or government agencies that provide vision care to members of the armed forces.

Opticians typically work in optical shops where they help customers choose glasses frames and lenses. Some opticians own their own businesses and hire other employees to assist them with customer service and sales.


Optometric technicians and opticians both use customer service skills when working with patients. They need to be able to understand patients’ needs and provide them with the best possible care. Communication skills are also important, as they need to be able to explain procedures and answer any questions patients may have.

Optometric technicians typically need more technical skills than opticians. For example, they may need to be able to use medical equipment, such as eye examination machines, and understand how to interpret the results of tests. They also may need to be able to take measurements of patients’ eyes.

Opticians usually need sales skills, as they often help patients select the best eyeglasses or contact lenses for their needs. They also may need to be able to adjust and repair glasses. Some opticians also dispense medications to treat conditions like pink eye.


The average salary for an optometric technician is $38,224 per year, while the average salary for an optician is $45,048 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience the professional has.


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