Optical Dispenser Job Description
Optical dispensers help customers select the right lenses for their eyes based on their prescriptions and preferences. They are skilled customer service representatives who know how to fulfill customer needs based on prescriptions and directions from the optometrist. Optical dispensers usually work for big-box retail stores that offer optometry services, like Wal-Mart and Target, or eyewear retailers, like LensCrafters and Visionworks. However, they may also work directly for optometrists in their offices. Optical dispensers typically work traditional day shifts and report directly to a lead optical dispenser or optometrist, depending on their employer.
Optical Dispenser Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for optical dispensers vary based on their employer and location. However, there are several core tasks common to all optical dispensers, such as:
Optical dispensers are responsible for interpreting a customer’s eye prescription from an optometrist. This includes accounting for eye conditions such as astigmatisms, which usually affect what kinds of lenses the customer needs. When necessary, optical dispensers contact optometrists to clarify any confusion with the prescription.
Sell and Dispense Frames and Lenses
Optical dispensers sell and dispense frames and lenses to customers based on their prescriptions and personal preferences. This may include upselling customers lenses that are treated for anti-glare properties or extra strength. Optical dispensers also sell and dispense contact lenses.
Repair and Clean Frames
Most optical dispensers are responsible for repairing and cleaning customers’ eyeglasses frames when they pay for the service. This includes switching out nose pads and recommending lens replacements as needed.
Verify Insurance Coverage
Optical dispensers contact a customer’s vision or health insurance provider to ensure the customer is covered for the lenses and frames they want to purchase. This responsibility also requires the optical dispenser to work with customers who have denied vision claims.
Complete General Clerical Work
Many optical dispensers also act as general clerks in their offices. As a part of these duties, optical dispensers file paperwork, complete cleaning tasks, and answer incoming phone calls.
Optical Dispenser Skills and Qualifications
Optical dispensers are skilled customer service representatives and salespeople. They are also passionate about helping people live better lives through improved eyewear. Optical dispensers must hold at least a high school diploma and the following skills or qualifications:
- Optical experience – many optical dispensers have previous experience in an optical setting. They are familiar with optical offices and the different lens and frames options from which a customer can choose
- Customer service – optical dispensers have great customer service skills and know how to properly greet and assist customers. They know how to take care of customer complaints and problems
- Selling skills – optical dispensers know basic selling principles and can apply them to their daily job responsibilities. They know how to identify customer needs and fill them with the appropriate upsell
- Interpersonal communication skills – optical dispensers work face-to-face with customers on an hourly basis, and they know how to communicate clearly and efficiently
- Organization skills – since many optical dispensers also act as administrative clerks, they are highly organized and know how to keep track of paperwork and appointments
Tools of the Trade
Optical dispensers use the following tools in their day-to-day job routines:
- Eyewear repair tools
- Microsoft Office Suite (especially Excel, Word, and Outlook)
Optical Dispenser Education and Training
Optical dispensers have at least a high school diploma or GED, but many employers only consider candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Many optical dispensers also pursue careers as optical technicians and may attend school to become licensed in the field. Some employers may require their optical dispensers to be licensed as optical technicians, but this requirement can vary.
Optical dispensers receive extensive on-the-job training that includes learning how to use lensmeters and interpret prescriptions, and getting familiar with the office’s administrative systems.
Optical Dispenser Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual salary of optical dispensers as around $39,000. This number can vary depending on experience and location, but those in the top 10 percent can make as much as $60,000 per year, while those in the bottom 10 percent can make as much as $25,000 per year. As far as benefits go, most optical dispensers receive heavily discounted eyewear services from their employer. They usually also receive health insurance, paid time off, and overtime and bonus pay.
The BLS reports a faster-than-average growth rate for optical dispensers – around 24 percent over the next 10 years. The reasons for this fast growth is due to the aging population’s increased need for eyewear.
Read some of the following helpful resources to learn more about the responsibilities and duties of an optical dispenser:
EyeCareProfessionals – this website is a good resource for anyone looking to enter any career in the eyecare industry. It focuses on providing educational and accurate information to site visitors. Areas covered include resources regarding salaries, school paths, licensure, and more
Opticians Association of America – this professional organization is dedicated to creating an industry that recognizes opticians – including optical dispensers – and ensuring they receive the appropriate amount of training. Its website includes optician events, branding information, and other resources for optical dispensers
Eyewear – this book covers the past 500 years of eyewear fashion and function. It’s a helpful resource for any optical dispenser hoping to learn more about the history of eyewear and how it has affected the eyewear of today
The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service – optical dispensers usually work as customer service representatives, and this book is helpful for candidates who want to improve their customer service skills. The book is broken down into 39 different chapters, all dedicated to explaining a different “rule” of customer service
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