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Optical Laboratory Technician

Optical laboratory technicians produce, assemble, and repair eyeglasses according to prescriptions.

Also Known As

Contact Lens Technician, Eyeglass Technician

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Optical/Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Assistants (3414.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Optical/Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Assistants
2006 NOC : 3414.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to operate laboratory equipment; and in maintaining and repairing optical laboratory equipment or machinery

METHODICAL

Interest in copying established procedures to assemble eyeglasses according to precise specifications; and in fitting lenses into frames

innovative

Interest in assisting clients by suggesting improvements and recommending minor repairs to eyeglasses

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Optical laboratory technicians work in optical labs where they:

  • cut, grind, and polish lenses to precise measurements
  • assemble eyeglass frames
  • fit lenses into frames.

Technicians may specialize in surfacing or finishing lenses. Surfacing includes:

  • selecting and marking a blank lens to indicate required curves
  • fastening the blank lens to a metal object for support while it’s ground and polished
  • generating a curve
  • grinding and polishing lens surfaces to the prescribed specifications.

Finishing involves:

  • measuring lens power
  • cutting lenses to the size and shape required to fit selected frames
  • edging and bevelling lenses
  • drilling lenses
  • assembling eyeglasses.

Some optical laboratory technicians work in specialized contact lens labs. They produce contact lenses according to prescription.

To learn about working directly with customers, see the Optician occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Optical laboratory technicians work in labs. They may be on their feet for much of the day. Allergic reactions to the chemical agents used in an optical lab is a potential workplace hazard. Preparing lenses in a limited time can be stressful.

Optical laboratory technicians work a standard 40-hour week. Those working in quick-serve and retail settings may work some evenings and weekends.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Optical laboratory technicians need to possess:

  • fine-motor skills
  • mechanical ability
  • patience and perseverance
  • the ability to focus on small details
  • the ability to work well in a team setting.

They should enjoy:

  • using equipment and hand tools
  • having clear guidelines and following step-by-step procedures
  • making repairs.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

NOC code: 3414

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 45 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Jun 28, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education Varies

In Alberta, optical laboratory technicians are trained on the job in optical prescription labs. There are no standard education requirements. However, a high school diploma or a background in math and science is an asset. Many employers want to see evidence that a job applicant has a keen mind and an interest in the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

In the industry, this is seen as an entry-level position.

Many optical laboratory technicians work for large, full-service labs where they perform specific tasks. Others work in smaller surfacing or edging labs. These may be linked with optical retail stores or optometrists’ practices.

Trainees may start work in the stock room of an optical lab. They may then progress to surfacing or finishing roles. After about 3 months at one task, trainees move to another task. After about 3 years, they develop enough skills to work unsupervised. This applies to both surfacing and finishing.

With time on the job, technicians may become supervisors in labs. Or they may move into related fields. For example, they may sell safety programs to industry. Or they may sell and repair optometric diagnostic tools. Some technicians study to become dispensing opticians (see the Optician occupational profile). There is a trend toward training for one position or the other.

Optical laboratory technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services. In Alberta, 83% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 169 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Salaries for optical laboratory technicians vary a lot depending on the size of the lab. In the initial stages of training, hourly wages may be low.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2016 NOC : 3414
Average Wage
$23.34
Per Hour
Average Salary
$37,912.00
Per Year
Average Hours
31.4
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.9
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3414 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $24.08 $20.51 $21.62
Overall $16.93 $28.39 $23.34 $23.84
Top $18.00 $30.18 $25.89 $25.69

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
55%
55%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
26%
26%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
6%
6%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta College and Association of Opticians (ACAO) website: acao.ca

Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) website: www.opticians.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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