What is your advice for someone working their way to become an Optician?
Think bigger! There is so much you can do as an Optician. You can start your own optical store. Work for a large chain that offers great wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement. Work with an Optometry or Ophthalmology practice and get to know the clinical side of the business. Work in education teaching Opticians. Work as an industry rep selling frames, lenses, contact lenses, pharma products or equipment….so many opportunities in eye care.
Why should anyone get certified/licensed?
YES! Even though I haven’t actively dispensed in years I never let my license lapse. I pay a non-practicing fee every year and keep up with my education. Because having Licensed Optician on my CV is important and a huge part of my history and career. I am very proud of my license and will always keep it active.
In your experience, what is the best way to prepare for an Opticianry test?
It’s been a while but I believe there are some great resources and platforms that have information and pretests to get you ready for the actual Opticianry test.
What was the point when you decided to attain your license/certification?
I grew up in the business. My dad was an Optician who owned an optical store and he talked me into starting there when I was 16 years old. I took the Optician program as soon as I finished high school and was licensed at 19.
What do you feel is your strongest skill as an Optician?
When I was actively dispensing it was my sales ability. I was always super strong at having eyewear conversations. I always looked at it as an eyewear consultation. I was teaching them what they needed to know in order to make the right decision when purchasing glasses. I think it was why I was so successful and had the highest sales all the time because I never felt like I was selling and customers told me that they felt so empowered with information. I went on to outside sales and now own a marketing agency where I am still the main sales person and I carry those skills with me every day. The one other thing that I always felt I was exceptionally good at was adjustments. I took pride in making sure the new glasses fit perfectly before that customer left the store.
What role have you held that best helped you to be the Optician you are today?
I was the corporate trainer for 170 retail optical stores. That was an unbelievable experience that taught me the value of training, process, organizational excellence, sales skills training and public speaking.
What is your advice to someone who lacks sales skills or confidence?
Find a mentor, find training and invest in yourself. Stop thinking of it as selling and start consulting.
If you are no longer an Optician in the traditional sense on a daily basis, how did your Optician
skills help you with what you’re doing now?
Everything I did and learnt as a front line Optician carried over into every step of my career. I have been fortunate to have worked in many sectors of the industry including retail optical, wholesale sales with Bausch & Lomb, clinical consulting for Optos, VP of Training & Marketing for an Optometry buying group before starting my own digital marketing agency, Marketing4ECPs, focused on eye care practices. I also volunteer for the Optical Women’s Association on several committees and recently joined the Board of
Directors for the OWA which is an amazing organization that helps support leadership of women in optical.
I have enjoyed every career change and new experiences in optical. If you are happy where you are and enjoying what you are doing then keep doing it. If you need a change look for it. There are so many paths available to you because you are an Optician.
Responses in this interview provided by Trudi Charest, Licensed Optician
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