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Optical Assistant Certification and Training Programs

Optical assistant training programs are available to those who are interested in working with optometrists. Read on to learn what prerequisites are required to enroll in these training programs, certification options, and the job responsibilities of being an optical assistant.

Do I Need to Complete a Training Program to Become an Optical Assistant?

To work as an optical assistant, you typically need a high school diploma along with excellent customer service skills and a familiarity with word processing and spreadsheet programs. Some employers prefer optical assistants who have previous retail or customer service experience and a knowledge of federal laws designed to ensure patient confidentiality and regulate insurance billing processes. Optics experience could also be helpful.

While not required for employment, some schools offer short-term optical assistant training programs through their continuing education departments. These programs include coursework that could sharpen your customer service skills and introduce you to a facility's front and back office operations. You might also learn about common vision problems and eye anatomy. These programs typically last about six weeks and may be offered online.

Prerequisites High school diploma
Certification Entry-level Certified Para-optometric certificate earned through AOA
Work Environment Greeting patients, maintenance of medical files, ordering office supplies, processing insurance information
Median Salary (2018) $36,530 (for all ophthalmic laboratory technicians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% growth (for all ophthalmic laboratory technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Earn Certification?

You might consider earning professional certification to improve your employment prospects or advance your career. The American Optometric Association, for example, offers an entry-level Certified Para-optometric (CPO) credential to candidates with six months of work experience and a high school diploma. To earn this designation, you'll need to pass a written exam covering such topics as clinical procedures and basic science.

What Are the Job Duties of an Optical Assistant?

As an optical assistant, you would be responsible for greeting patients, maintaining their medical files, helping them select eye wear and processing their payment information. Ordering and stocking office supplies or merchandise, notifying patients when their orders are ready and performing office opening or closing procedures could also be part of your job.

Additional duties might vary depending on the employer, but you could also be responsible for processing insurance information, confirming appointments and adjusting the fit of glasses. Many employers also require optical assistants to clean the office on a regular basis.