There are many different skills you should have to be a successful optician. Many of these you can learn while you are in an apprenticeship or attending optician school. Some of these skills include a strong knowledge of business, the ability to communicate well, and great hand-eye coordination.
Although opticians train extensively in how to deal with issues specifically related to eyes and eyewear, they are also responsible for a variety of administrative and clerical tasks that help keep the office running smoothly. For this reason, you should develop some knowledge of sales and how to keep track of inventory. You may be responsible for ordering new supplies, monitoring stockroom levels, and staying up-to-date on new products. You should also have some knowledge of sales and how to make them. As you talk to customers about frames and lenses, you may be asked to try to sell them more expensive options to make the store more money (or you, if you work on commission). Depending on where you go to school, you may be able to take some business classes while you are studying for your degree. If you enter into an apprenticeship you will be trained in sales and business techniques on the job. You should also be a savvy decision maker who can weigh all her options and judge situations appropriately.
A lot of your time as an optician will be spent with customers. You will do a lot of conversing with them to help meet their needs and fulfill their requests. You should be able to ask the right questions to help understand exactly what they are looking for. This might include questions about the type of frames or lenses they want, and what type of contacts they usually wear. You will also have to explain a lot of information to them in a way that is easy to understand. For example, you might have to give customers instructions on how to care for contacts – instructions which are very important and essential for keeping eyes from getting irritated. You will also have to go through different options for customers, such as what kind of frames they can get, what different lens shapes there are, and the different upgrades that are available.
Opticians are sometimes asked to use small hand tools to make adjustments and repairs to eyeglasses. This is especially likely if you work at a location where there is not a separate ophthalmic technician on staff. You must have the skills to make these small motor movements and make minute adjustments to frames so that they fit the customer. You should have strong hand-eye coordination so that you can work easily with the tools and delicate frames. You will likely build up dexterity as you gain practice, since you must handle tools and frames with extreme care. Some eyeglasses are very expensive, and even if they aren’t – your customers probably won’t be very happy if you break their frames or lenses!