Ophthalmic Technician Training and Certificate Programs

Ophthalmic technicians help ophthalmologists perform eye exams and manage patient care. Find out about education programs available and the outlook for this career field. Schools offering Optician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Ophthalmic Technician Training and Certificate Programs Are Available?

Ophthalmic training programs generally take one or two years to complete and can usually be found at medical colleges, universities and community colleges. At these schools, you are able to find certificate and associate's degree programs. Certificate programs focus only on ophthalmic assistant training. Completing an undergraduate program will result in an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science.

If you are trying to find distance education programs, you might not be able to find any. You can only properly develop the knowledge and skills to work in the field by practicing on dummies and live patients in a hands-on environment.

Degree LevelsCertificate, associate's
Common CoursesMedical ethics, anatomy, physical and geometric optics, ocular pathology, contact lens theory
CertificationPrograms prepare you for voluntary certification exams offered by the JCAHPO
Median Salary (2015)$30,590* (for medical assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Can I Expect?

Certificate programs provide enough training to help you assist with patient care, perform basic eye exams, take eye measurements and covey results to patients. This type of program teaches you about eye diseases, treatments, anatomy and terminology. You also learn techniques for communicating with patients, taking patient histories and keeping medical instruments sterilized. Courses in the program include medical ethics, safety procedures, anatomy, physiology, equipment maintenance and pharmacology. You can also expect to participate in clinical training before earning your certificate.

Associate's degree programs include most courses found in certificate programs, in addition to general education requirements. This level of education provides the knowledge you need to assist in minor surgical procedures, test pupil and muscle function, perform electrophysiological and microbiological procedures, test eye sight and help patients of all ages. You may also be required to take cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid training courses. This level of education may require courses in surgical technology, retinoscopy, refractometry, physical and geometric optics, ophthalmic dispensing, ocular pathology and contact lens theory. Your program may also require you to complete clinical rotations or an internship.

Do I Need Certification?

Most certificate and associate's degree programs are designed to prepare you for the certification exam administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). Although certification is not required, the JCAHPO offers a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant designation that you can earn after you complete a certificate program. If you have completed an associate's degree program, you may be qualified for the Certified Ophthalmic Technician and Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist designations. To qualify for testing, you will need to have worked for several years in your field and completed an accredited program. Receiving certification may lead you to be professionally recognized, receive higher pay and have more job opportunities.

What Is My Job Outlook?

A certificate program may qualify you for a position as an ophthalmic assistant. An associate's degree program may prepare you for a career as an ophthalmic technician or technologist. These careers may be located in hospitals, private offices or laboratories.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistant careers are expected to grow 23% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This increase in positions may be caused by a growth in the older population and advances in technology. As of May 2015, the BLS also estimated that medical assistants made a median salary of $30,590.

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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