Becoming An Optician: Zach Kastner, ABO-AC

What is your advice for someone working their way to become an Optician?

Hone your critical thinking skills. Being able to think critically is one of the most important aspects of this career. From being able to adequately troubleshoot a difficult problem to sorting through all the marketing thrown at us every day.


Why should anyone get certified/licensed?

Besides expanding your knowledge base it all gives your ground to stand on. Having certifications and licensure lends credibility to you that is not tied to the current place you are working at. I have never been a big believer on being taken along for the ride which is why getting my certifications in a non-license state was so important to me. Being pretty young and having my ABO-AC has really helped cement relationships with doctors in my area for referrals as well as lending credibility during the sales process.


In your experience, what is the best way to prepare for an Opticianry test?

I prefer a 2-pronged approach. One of which is book learning, such as Systems of Ophthalmic Dispensing or some of the study guides that have been written. The other being finding a mentor in the industry who has done it before you. I have several people that I reach out to regularly for help with certain topics or just for another perspective on a problem.


What do you remember as being a prominent part of the test or that you were surprised to see on the test?

My ABO-AC exam had a TON of slab off questions. I think that was the most shocking to me was the sheer number of them.


What was the point when you decided to attain your license/certification?

Less than a year into working in the field. I was working at Lenscrafters and I knew that there was more out there than I had been taught so far. I went for my Advanced certification after my first renewal period and I was first eligible because I had decided to make Opticianry a career.


What do you feel is your strongest skill as an Optician?

Fitting progressive lenses and troubleshooting. I very high success rate with fitting progressive lenses and matching people’s lifestyle to design. I am a strong believer in not one size fits all for lenses.


What is your advice to someone who lacks sales skills or confidence?

If someone is lacking in confidence they may not truly believe in the products are they are selling. Have an understanding, even on a basic level, of how something works can lend a lot of confidence to the sales process. Don’t be scared to ask questions of your mentors, reps, or even on industry forms.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone in the field is find what you are passionate about use that stand out. If you fashion then curate the most unique and fun optical in town. Find a mentor who excels at the same thing and pick their brain. You can always be better at what you do and the second you begin to rest on your laurels the second that someone else passes you by.

Responses in this interview provided by Zach Kastner, ABO-AC

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