Optical Assistant Schools and Courses

As an optical assistant, you can help patients find the styles of glasses they want, fill their prescriptions by preparing lenses, and do other duties to assist optometrists. Get info about choosing a school for your optical assistant training, and find out what you'll learn. Check the job duties, career outlook and typical salary for optical assistants. Schools offering Optician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

An optical assistant works closely with optometrists, lab opticians or ophthalmologists to provide vision health care to patients. Optical assistants must have technical expertise as well as communication skills and customer service, as they interact frequently with patients.

Schools Community colleges, technical schools, vocational schools or career centers are the types of institutions offering programs for aspiring optical assistants
Courses Basic anatomy concerning vision, common vision disorders and correction methods, basic math, English composition, eyewear, communications
Salary $29,960 (median annual salary for medical assistants as of May 2014)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Optical Assistant Do?

As a professional in this field you may help optometrists with their work in assisting patients with eyesight troubles. As an optical assistant, you may help patients find the styles of glasses they want to wear and might provide assistance to optometrists with such duties as pretesting and general office work. You may also work as a lab optician making glasses, or as a dispensing optician helping to fill patients' prescriptions. Another career possibility is as an assistant to an ophthalmologist, who also prescribes surgery in addition to an optometrist's duties.

How Can I Choose a School?

Community colleges, technical schools, vocational schools or career centers may offer programs to prepare you to become an optical assistant. You may be able to complete certificate, diploma or associate degree programs with titles like optical technology, optical assistance, opthalmic assistance or vision care assistance. Before selecting a school, it's important to be sure that you're enrolling in a program that meets both your career and continuing education goals. Certification through an organization such as the American Optometric Association may give you an edge in the field, so you might prefer a school that emphasizes preparation for certification.

In some cases, you may prefer programs that are available partially or entirely online. Some online programs require only an Internet connection and the appropriate software to view instructional videos and lectures. However, in some online programs, you may be responsible for finding an experienced candidate to become your mentor in the field, and for gaining access to optical technology equipment. In some cases, you must already be affiliated with an optical technology laboratory to qualify for an online program.

What Courses Will I Take?

Optical assistant programs prepare you for working in eye care, and can teach you basic anatomy concerning vision, including common disorders patients may suffer from and correction methods to these disorders. You can also learn about lenses and frames for glasses and contact lenses. Because of the importance of working with people as an optical assistant, you may also need classes on how to understand and relate to other people. Some programs may also require courses teaching basic math and English composition.

What Are My Job Prospects as an Optical Assistant?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for medical assistants are expected to rise by 29% between the years 2012 and 2022, much faster than the national average (www.bls.gov). As of May 2014, the median annual salary for medical assistants was $29,960 according to the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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