Optometric Technician Certification and School Programs

Optometric technicians provide general ophthalmology patient care under the supervision of an optometrist. Read below to learn about training options for optometric technicians, including degree and certificate programs. Get more info on the job duties, career outlook and typical salary for these technicians. Review the process for becoming certified as an optometric technician. Schools offering Optician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

An optometric technician works as a type of assistant to an optometrist, conducting preliminary tests on patients and instructing them on aspects of eye care, such as the use of contact lenses.

Education A high school diploma is enough for an entry level position, though some positions require an associate's degree and additional certificate programs
Classes Ocular Anatomy, Basic Optical Concepts, and Opthalmic Pre-testing
Certification Paraoptometric, Paraoptometric assistant, Paraoptometric technician

What Education Do I Need?

Some technicians have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training. However, 1-year diploma or certificate programs and 2-year associate's degree programs in optometric technology, optometric assisting or optical technology are available. Some schools that offer these types of programs include:

  • McFatter Technical College
  • Ivy Tech Community College
  • Lakeshore Technical College
  • Kapi'Olani Community College
  • Indiana University
  • Manatee Technical College
  • Madison Area Technical College
  • Moorpark College

What Will I Learn?

Degree and non-degree programs teach you office procedures, the anatomy of the eye, how to run optical tests and information about optical devices. Some programs include a clinical practicum. Courses you can expect to take include:

  • Ophthalmic dispensing
  • Basic optical concepts
  • Ophthalmic pre-testing
  • Ocular science
  • Medical terminology

Optometric technician programs are also available online but are geared towards individuals working in the field. A program accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) may prepare you for voluntary certification after graduation.

Do I Need Certification?

Certification is not required but may increase your employment opportunities. The American Optometric Association (AOA) offers three levels of certification for optometric technicians: Certified Paraoptometric (CPO), Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA), and Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT).

To sit for the CPO examination, you need a high school diploma and six months of experience working in eye care. To earn the CPOA credential, you must be CPO certified and have worked with that certification for at least six months. For the CPOT level, you need six months of experience along with already having the CPOA credential. You can also become a CPOT if you graduate from an optometric technician program approved by the ACOE. You must take 18 hours of continuing education courses every three years to renew these certifications.

What Are the Career Prospects for this Field?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes optometric technicians as medical assistants. According to the BLS, technological advances in healthcare and increases in demands for healthcare workers to treat the aging population mean that anticipated job growth in this field is above average. In 2016, the BLS stated that there were 634,400 medical assistants in the nation and that this number is expected to grow 29 percent by 2026 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $32,480 in 2017.

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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