Becoming a Certified Ophthalmic Technician
Caring for patients’ eyes can be a valuable way to be involved in the healthcare field, work directly with patients, and make a difference in their lives. A career as an ophthalmic technician gives you the chance to work in a healthcare setting as an integral care team member providing for the eye-related needs of patients. You’ll need your high school diploma to pursue one of the 3 ophthalmic technician certifications available that we will discuss in this article. Before we get into the steps you need to take to become a certified ophthalmic technician let’s talk about the job duties and education and training requirements.
An ophthalmic technician works with an ophthalmologist to treat patients with problems related to their eyes. This can include vision measurements for corrective lenses, eye muscle exercises, eye disorders, and other eye-related concerns. An ophthalmic technician is often responsible for:
- Getting initial information from the patient, such as medical history
- Performing diagnostic tests
- Administering eye medication
- Maintaining optical instruments
- Providing instructions for using corrective lenses
Education & Training
Ophthalmic technicians must first complete a high school diploma or GED prior to educational training. The program to prepare students for these jobs is either a one-year certificate program or a two-year program to earn an Associate’s degree for technologists. Regardless of which education path is selected, the coursework includes topics like:
- Ocular anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Medical law and ethics
- Ocular motility
- Ophthalmic toxicology
- Ophthalmic pathology
- Ophthalmic optics
- Eye diseases
In addition, programs include a hands-on component prior to graduation to give first-hand experience in the field.
Ophthalmic technician certification varies from state to state. While there may be some clinics that do not require certification, most do. National certification and testing can be obtained through the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). Certification is available at three levels.
- Entry level: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)
- Intermediate level: Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT)
- Advanced level: Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT)
Those interested in a career in ophthalmic surgical assisting must seek subspecialty certification in addition to one of the above core levels of certification.
Ophthalmic Technician Salaries & Job Growth
Ophthalmic Technician salaries are very competitive and the job market is projected to grow nearly twice as fast as the average rate of growth for all occupations in the U.S.
|Quick Facts: Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians|
|2018 Median Pay||$36,690 per year
$17.64 per hour|
|Typical Entry-Level Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|On-the-job Training||Moderate-term on-the-job training|
|Number of Jobs, 2018||81,500|
|Job Outlook, 2018-28||11% (Much faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2018-28||9,100|