Becoming an optician is an involved process and it can also pave the way for a career as an optical manager. There is an upgrade in duties when opticians are promoted to the rank of optical manager, and that also means an increase in pay. An optical manager can often be the heart and soul of a vision care center and it is also a career that can be very rewarding. Becoming an optical manager takes several steps, but one that can be accomplished with time, effort and dedication.
Optical Manager Overview/General Personal Characteristic Requirements
An optical manager is expected to know how to perform all the duties required of a dispensing optician, in addition to a host of managerial duties. Optical managers are expected to be adept at fixing and adjusting eyewear, but they are also entrusted with the day-to-day operations of a vision care center. Opticians need to be able to look to optical managers when any issues, questions, or uncertainties arise.
For those reasons, optical managers must be very knowledgeable when it comes to both eye care and eyewear. Many optical managers are actually licensed dispensing opticians, particularly since a vast amount of optometrists and vision care centers will not hire unlicensed optical managers. However, not all states require their opticians to be licensed. In those states, the hiring process is dictated by each individual eyewear facility.
An optical manager also serves as the main liaison to optometrists. Most times, optical managers will work with optometrists to ensure the specific business is operating at an optimal level. Optical managers may also speak on behalf of the optometrist to employees and patients. The duties of an optical manager also include the handling of unsatisfied or disgruntled customers.
Optical managers will lend a hand in repairing eyewear when needed, but there are other tasks that consume their workdays. Optical managers are responsible for submitting patient information to insurance companies. They are also required to attend to typical managerial duties over the course of a day, such as dealing with customer complaints, overseeing administrative tasks and performing accounting work. In most practices and eye care stores, optical managers are in charge of the hiring and training process as well.
Some optical managers have accumulated prior managerial experience in the retail sector. This can be a big help since the job requires the supervision of employees, payroll duties and the handling of weekly scheduling. Optical managers must also step in and perform dispensing optician tasks with precision. Adding in managerial duties takes the optical manager job to another level.
Optical managers typically show themselves to have good communication skills and they must also be flexible since they are responsible for any uncovered optician shifts. Optical managers must also possess solid business skills as there is clerical work involved as well. Monthly budgeting and inventory control are two more tasks that are commonly assigned to optical managers. Therefore, they must be precise and also show a close attention to detail.
Meeting Education and Certification Requirements to Become an Optical Manager
The educational path to becoming a licensed optician is usually the first step towards becoming an optical manager. To start out on this path, a high school diploma or GED equivalency is generally required. The certification process then lies through a post-secondary school offering a dispensing optician program. Most certification programs last anywhere from nine months to a year.
Certification programs are offered through numerous community colleges, technical institutes and vocational schools. It is through these training programs that the essentials of opticianry are learned. There are also two-year Associate Degree programs available in Ophthalmic Dispensing. Subjects taught in most optician training programs include contact lens technology, ocular physiology and ophthalmic theories.
There is also the option of taking part in continuing education offered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). This organization features its own exam, which can enhance the credentials of an optician and can go a long way when trying to become an optical manager.
Those being considered for the position of optical manager are also helped by any prior business training. This kind of training could come from working in a retail setting or by completing business courses at an accredited college. More credentials will help as the criteria is decided upon by the hiring vision care center. Candidates who are certified, trained and experience are generally the ones with the highest chances of landing a position as an optical manager.
State Licensing Requirements
Location determines whether or not a state license is required for optical managers. Approximately half the states in the U.S. require their dispensing opticians to obtain a license. In these states, it is usually mandatory for an optical manager to be licensed by the state as a dispensing optician. In states that do not require licenses, a certification will usually suffice. It is important to check out the licensing requirements in your state before looking to gain employment.
Optical Manager Pay Scale/Job Opportunities
Optical managers can expect to make a salary higher than that of a dispensing optician. Since it is a position upgrade, the bump in responsibilities also comes with a raise. In the U.S., the average salary for dispensing opticians is $37,860 annually. The average salary for an optical manager stands at $43,558 per year. However, that can differ immensely according to location. For example, optical managers in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts earn average salaries over $60,000 per year. A lot of that salary depends on the financial success of the vision care center or practice.
Most optical managers work in private practices while a fair amount also work in the retail sector. There has been a steady growth in opticians in recent years, meaning there is also a need for more optical managers. By the year 2024, there is expected to be close to a 20% increase in the number of dispensing opticians. That means the profession is expanding with the advent of many new businesses and private practices. That also means there will be more individuals needed to manage these establishments, giving rise to the population of optical managers.