How Can I Become an Optician?

An optician in the UK is actually more correctly described as an optometrist, a professional who is trained to conduct an eye test in which the health of your eyes is established, and then prescribe corrective lenses as appropriate. Caring for people’s vision is quite an important role, and hence an optician is trained to a high standard to deliver the service people need.

The degree

To become an optician you will need to complete a degree in Optometry (Bachelor in science) which has been approved by the General Optical Council (GOC). The GOC is the UK’s regulatory body for opticians, and maintains the high standards you can expect of your optician. The GOC reviews accredited courses regularly, and at the very least every five years, to make sure they are meeting standards and keeping abreast of developments in the field. You will be expected to achieve at least a 2:2 (lower second class) degree at the BSc level and a certificate of clinical competence before moving forward on to the later stages of your training.

After your degree

All opticians need to be registered with the GOC to practice their trade, and to do this they need to complete a clinical training period that is typically a year long. In this time they will be working under a practicing optician who will assess and develop their clinical abilities in a care setting. An optician also needs to pass an exam called the Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) which is designed to determine their ability to safely practice in a patient care environment. After completing these requirements, you can register with the GOC and begin working as an optician. This, however, is not the end of the road as you will be required to provide evidence of professional development to maintain your registration. New technologies and practices are constantly being developed, and the GOC expects all its opticians to keep up to date with them as well as any changes in practice standards the Council may implement.

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