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Updated

Optical Laboratory Technician

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

  • Avg. Salary $44,800.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.80
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 4,400
  • In Demand Medium
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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

21%
21%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Optical Laboratory Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Optical/Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Assistants
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

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 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 More

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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
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.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

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 D313: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.2% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 246 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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.

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.70 $29.84 $20.71 $21.42
Overall $15.00 $34.54 $23.80 $23.56
Top $15.93 $63.15 $30.27 $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.

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.


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

54%
54%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

21%
21%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

3%
3%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
  • Mathematics
  • Science
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: www.opticians.ab.ca

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

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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