Optical Assistant Apprenticeship
12 months - one day per week
An Optical Assistant requires many skills to be able to work within the Optical retail Industry. They are often the people that spend the most time interacting with customers. Therefore strong communication, listening skills and a passion for working with others to deliver excellent service and products that are both clinically and cosmetically correct, are skills, knowledge and behaviours that need to be demonstrated at all times.
Optical Assistants have to interpret and understand a clinically issued prescription, its effects on the eye, and the customer’s vision. They need to be able to identify the appropriate spectacles to meet the customer’s needs and be able to explain the features and benefits of these, using non-technical customer friendly language. This Apprenticeship aims to give the students the knowledge and confidence to do just that
Employed in the optical industry and a minimum of two GCSE at grade 3 (grade D) or above in Maths and English is required. Functional Skills Level 1 can be obtained on the course.
Where will I study:
What will I learn?
- Health & safety at work legislation relevant to the industry
- The safe use of all industry equipment relevant to the role
- A wide range of frame and lens material, including features, benefits, visual and material limitations
- The legal requirements of products, the potential allergic reactions they may cause to ensure the best vision, fit and comfort
- A wide range of optical tools and equipment
- The uses and limitations of hand tools, the correct use of equipment e.g. focimeter, Pupillary distance measuring device, frame heater, double nylon jaw pliers, angling pliers, snipe nose pliers, cutter pliers, nose pad pliers, axis aligning pliers, screwdriver set, non-contact tonometer, auto refractor, visual field screeners, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
- Employer’s and NHS quality standards for accurate and secure record keeping
- Adherence to British, European standards and industry governance set out by the general optical council e.g. referral / triage to clinical colleagues for support and advice when identifying an ocular emergency, taking measurements, completing a collection for customers within protected named groups (under 16s, sight impaired, severely sight impaired)
- The screening equipment used, its function and the appropriate language to explain its function within own area of responsibility, knowing when to refer to Optometrist
- Eye and medical conditions screened for e.g. glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes
- Customer types and barriers to communication they may face e.g. customers of varying ages, customers with specific communication or mental health needs
- How to adapt questioning and communication to meet customer requirements
- Parts of the eye and how this relates to the makeup of a spectacle prescription
- How a prescription is written and interpreted e.g. myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, visual equity and the effects the prescription has on vision and spectacle lens thickness
- Frame and lens measurements and fitting for prescriptions e.g. pupil distances, vertical heights, pantoscopic angles, frontal bow, length to bend, eye size and bridge width, understanding of how to check vision and fit for multiple vision types and the precautionary recommendations to issue to customers on final fitting
The end-point assessment has three components which have been designed to be completed once the apprentice has finished the on-programme learner journey. All three components will need to be passed in order for the apprentice to be awarded the Apprenticeship.
Apprentices will be expected to complete:
- A case study that will cover a multifocal customer dispense and collection.
- The observation of practice is undertaken in the apprentice’s workplace to assess skills and behaviours highlighted. A question and answer session will be used for skills and behaviours not fully seen during the observation period.
- The professional discussion will assess the apprentice’s knowledge, skills, values and behaviours in practice. The apprentice will collate a portfolio which they will use to underpin the professional discussion.
Judgement on whether the apprentice is ready for the end-point assessment is taken by the employer, who should gather views from the training provider and the apprentice to inform this decision. Apprentices should not be put forward for the end-point assessment before they are ready.
Optical Assistant, Optical advisor
An in-practice supervisor needs to be a Qualified and Registered on the General Optical Council. (Dispensing Optician, Contact Lens Optician or OMP or Optometrist) for an apprentice to commence training.
An Optical Assistant job is so much more than just your average retail job. Ambitious individuals have lots of career options such as:
- Ophthalmic Dispensing– Become a qualified Dispensing Optician
- Contact lens Optician – fit Contact lenses
- Low vision specialist – help people where traditional spectacles will not suffice. Supply low vision aids, magnifiers, advice on contrast etc
- Optometry courses – carry out full eye examinations and issue prescriptions
- Clinical representative– visiting practices introducing new frame and lens ranges
- In-practice trainer – You could use your knowledge to train other
- Practice Management – Go out a Management course
- Practice ownership – Go into business yourself, partnership or Franchise
Date last updated:18 January 2021