The Opticianry department offers two programs: Associate Degree in Applied Science or Optical Apprentice Certificate.

The Opticianry degree program is a two-year hybrid program of study that teaches students to become an optician. What do opticians do? Opticians receive lens prescriptions from eye doctors, determine the size and style of eyeglasses desired by the customer, determine and explain appropriate lens options, make lenses, and cut them to fit into an eyeglass frame while also adjusting finished glasses to fit the customer.

students looking into microscope Program graduates will learn all phases of opticianry, including surfacing (consists of blocking, fining, polishing, and inspecting both plastic and glass single-vision/multifocal lenses); Bench work (includes edging, hand beveling, safety beveling, heat treating, chemical tempering, tinting, and mounting lenses); and dispensing (includes measuring, adapting, and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses to the patient).

The Opticianry program is not a 100 percent online program. While there are several online classes, the courses with labs are considered hybrid, meaning both internet and lab time are required. Typically, labs are one day a week on Durham Tech's main campus. However, monthly-lab options are available if a student works in a location that has weekly access to the optical equipment required to complete the labs. The expectation of lab work can be found in the Detailed Explanation of Course Participation.

Additionally, the General Education courses on the Opticianry plan of study are not required to be completed at Durham Tech. The degree curriculum includes courses in communication skills, social sciences, microcomputer fundamentals, and business. These courses augment the student's technical instruction and provide a well-rounded educational background. These courses may be completed at a local community college and then transferred to Durham Tech.

An important facet of the Opticianry curriculum is the student practicum, which allows students to practice competencies and skills learned in the classroom. Practicum activities include adjusting and repairing eyeglasses at medical centers, retail optical shops, senior citizen centers, and convalescent centers in the greater Durham area, as well as at Durham Tech’s main campus Optical Shop.

Upon completion of the five-semester sequence of courses, the Associate in Applied Science degree in Opticianry is conferred and satisfies the formal educational requirements necessary to qualify for the licensing examination given by the North Carolina State Board of Opticians. Completing our program does not award a student a license. Students are still required to complete the North Carolina State Board Exam as well as the six-month internship in order to become a licensed optician.

Durham Tech students who completed the program, had a 100 percent pass rate on the 2017 North Carolina State Board of Opticians Licensure exams.

student writing notes Durham Tech also offers an Optical Apprentice certificate program that is designed to accompany the NC State Board 2.5-year Apprenticeship program where the student receives on-the-job training. The six-course certificate is completed 100 percent online and spans the duration of the student’s apprenticeship. Students completing this program should be registered as an apprentice with the NC State Board of Opticians. Please visit the NC State Board of Opticians website for more information concerning the apprenticeship.

The Opticianry program is accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation and approved by the North Carolina State Board of Opticians.