Optical Assistant Schools and Courses

Optical assistants help patients find the right styles of glasses, 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, since they interact frequently with patients.

Schools Community colleges, technical schools, vocational schools or career centers
Courses Basic anatomy concerning vision, common vision disorders and correction methods, basic math, English composition, eyewear, communications
Salary* $32,480 (median annual salary for all types of medical assistants as of May 2017)

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, ophthalmic 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. Schools that offer programs for aspiring optical assistants include:

  • Monroe Community College
  • Durham Technical Community College
  • Moorpark College
  • Madison Area Technical College
  • Jefferson State Community College
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
  • Cuyahoga Community College

Are Online Programs Available?

In some cases, you may prefer programs that are available partially or entirely online. Many online programs are hybrid programs, since lab courses must often be completed in person. Few programs in optical technology or related areas are offered 100% 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 related to the eye and vision, including common disorders patients may suffer from and correction methods for 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 in basic math and English composition. Other courses you are likely to take include:

  • Optical dispensing
  • Optical theory
  • Optical business management
  • Patient care
  • Ophthalmic specialty testing

What Are My Job Prospects as an Optical Assistant?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for all types of medical assistants are expected to rise by 29% between the years 2016 and 2026, much faster than the national average (www.bls.gov). As of May 2017, the median annual salary for medical assistants was $32,480, 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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

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  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Ferris State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Big Rapids
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