There are two types of opticians, dispensing opticians and manufacturing opticians. Both have different job skills but dispensing opticians may sometimes perform some of the same work as manufacturing opticians. Manufacturing opticians are involved in the actual process of making eyeglasses, contacts, and lenses for other purposes. They produce the lenses from scratch to finish according to specifications or prescriptions. Manufacturing opticians learn their trade through apprenticeship. They are hired and taught the trade.

Dispensing opticians are the ones we usually meet when we go in for eye exams or to get a pair of eyeglasses or contacts. They help clients find the best eyeglasses or contacts to fit them and their lifestyles. Opticians take eye measurements to insure proper fitting. They measure the curvature of the eyes to insure proper fitting of contact lenses. Dispensing opticians sometimes do the work of grinding the lenses themselves. Dispensing opticians can learn their skills through apprenticeships or through classes at a few colleges and universities. Dispensing opticians may also receive a 2 year associate degrees or a license depending on the state. They may also become certified by taking exams from the American Board of Opticians (ABO).