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Optical Laboratory Technician

Optical laboratory technicians manufacture, 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

Eyeglass Technician, Contact Lens 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

Average Wage
  • 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

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


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


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

Updated Dec 19, 2016

Optical laboratory technicians work in optical laboratories where they:

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

Technicians may specialize in the surfacing or finishing phases of the lens manufacturing process. Surfacing includes:

  • selecting and marking a blank lens to indicate required curvatures
  • fastening the blank lens to a metal object for support during grinding and polishing
  • 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 specified frames
  • edging and bevelling lenses
  • drilling lenses
  • assembling eyeglasses.

Some optical laboratory technicians work in specialized contact lens laboratories where they manufacture contact lenses according to prescription.

For information about the duties of people who work directly with customers, see the Optician occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Optical laboratory technicians work in laboratories. The work is not physically demanding but may require being on your feet much of the day. The only occupational hazard is the possibility of allergic reactions to chemical agents used in an optical laboratory. Having to prepare lenses in a limited amount of time can be stressful.

Optical laboratory technicians work a standard 40 hour week with some evening and weekend work required for those employed in quick service and retail optical dispensing businesses.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Optical laboratory technicians need the following characteristics:

  • good motor co-ordination, manual dexterity and finger dexterity
  • mechanical ability
  • patience and perseverance
  • the ability to pay close attention to details
  • the ability to work well in a team environment.

They should enjoy operating equipment and using hand tools, having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work, and making minor adjustments and repairs.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

In Alberta, optical laboratory technicians are trained on the job in optical prescription laboratories. There are no standard education requirements but a high school diploma or a background in math and science is an asset. Many employers look primarily for 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 Dec 19, 2016

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Optical laboratory technician generally is considered an entry level position in the optical industry.

Many optical laboratory technicians are employed by large full service laboratories where they specialize in particular types of tasks. Other technicians work in smaller surfacing or edging laboratories associated with optical dispensing businesses or optometrists' practices.

Trainees may start work in the stock room of an optical laboratory before progressing to surfacing or finishing operations. After about three months at a particular task, trainees move to another task. It takes about three years for trainees to become sufficiently skilled to work unsupervised in either surfacing or finishing.

Experienced optical laboratory technicians may advance to supervisory positions in laboratories or move into related fields such as selling safety programs to industry, or selling and repairing optometric diagnostic instruments. Some technicians study to become dispensing opticians (see the Optician profile), although there is a trend toward training specifically for one occupation or the other.

Optical laboratory technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services.  

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Salaries for optical laboratory technicians vary greatly depending on the size of the laboratory. 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
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
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta Opticians Association (AOA) website:

Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) website:

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 Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 2014. 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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