Ophthalmic Technologist

An ophthalmic technologist assists ophthalmologists in testing patients' vision. Find out the job duties, employment outlook and salary for this career, and learn what training is necessary to become one.

Is Ophthalmic Technology for Me?

Career Description

While the duties of an ophthalmic technologist are related to those of an ophthalmic laboratory technician, the training for each job is different. Ophthalmic technologists, often called ophthalmic medical technicians or ophthalmic medical assistants, work under an ophthalmologist's supervision while performing field of vision, color recognition and eye pressure tests. These tests might include using tonography or tonometry equipment to measure the pupil size and the eye's responses to light and air.

Employment Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that job opportunities for ophthalmic medical technicians, which include ophthalmic technologists, would grow by 30% in the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). In May 2012, the BLS noted that ophthalmic medical technicians earned $35,590 in average annual salary.

While a degree isn't required, you could find your employment options improve if you complete a training program. Vocational and technical colleges offer certificate or associate's degree programs, while bachelor's degrees are available through some colleges and universities.

How Can I Become an Ophthalmic Technologist?

Certificate

You could complete an ophthalmic medical assistant certificate program to prepare for the voluntary Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) examination. This is the entry-level certification offered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). In a certificate program, your classes include information on eye diseases, pharmacology and ophthalmic instrument usage and maintenance.

Associate's Degree

You might also consider earning an ophthalmic medical technology or ophthalmic technician associate's degree. An associate's degree program provides similar training to that offered in a certificate program. However, it also includes instruction in surgical assisting, since more experienced ophthalmic technicians might be asked to assist with eye surgeries. These programs prepare you for the JCAHPO's Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) examination, which typically indicates that you have more experience in your profession.

Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degrees in ophthalmic medical technology are also available, typically granting a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Ophthalmic Technology. Classes in a bachelor's degree program often include surgical assisting, anatomy of the eye and eye diseases, as well as classes in ophthalmic photography or ultrasound. A bachelor's degree program prepares you for the JCAHPO's Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT) exam.

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