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Certified Ophthalmic Assistant: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Working as a certified opthalmic assistant requires no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Ophthalmic assistants work with ophthalmologists assisting with patient care. Certification is not required, but it could increase job prospects. These positions have a median annual salary of $36,634.

Essential Information

Certified ophthalmic assistants work closely with ophthalmologists, or eye doctors, and are entry-level professionals. No formal education beyond a high school diploma or GED is necessary to work as an opthalmic assistant. Certification is available through a professional organization, often increasing job opportunities and salary potential for ophthalmic assistants.

Required Education None mandatory; formal training programs available, but rare
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Certification Voluntary, available for those with formal training or requisite experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 25% for ophthalmic medical technicians*
Median Salary (2016) $36,634 for certified opthalmic assistants with 1-4 years' experience**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

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Job Description of a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

Certified ophthalmic assistants aid ophthalmologists by obtaining medical records, performing preliminary eye function testing and explaining to patients about medication or procedures. Ophthalmic assistants generally work closely with an ophthalmologist, gathering patient information necessary to complete a diagnosis. Assistants often see the patient before the ophthalmologist, and is often responsible for preparing the patient for the exam and beginning the examination with standard tests and measurements.

Certification

Graduates of an academic degree program or those who have completed the training required by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology may earn a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant designation. Though optional, the certification may assist in acquiring an entry-level position. After obtaining additional training and experience, certified ophthalmic assistants may choose to further a career and earn a higher-level credential as a Certified Ophthalmic Technician or Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist.

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Duties

Certified ophthalmic assistants perform a variety of supportive tasks in an ophthalmologist's office. While technicians and technologists may be more involved in procedural functions, assistants may be responsible for the following:

  • Gathering medical records and patient information
  • Taking ocular measurements, both anatomical and functional
  • Administering or preparing medications
  • Providing eye care and contact lens information to the patient
  • Maintaining and cleaning ophthalmic instruments
  • Assisting the ophthalmologist in basic procedures

Salary Information for Certified Ophthalmic Assistants

In 2016, PayScale.com reported that certified ophthalmic assistants with less than five years of experience earned a median salary of $36,634 per year. In the same year, those without certification reported median annual earnings of $33,676 when experience was not taken into account. Non-certified professionals on the job for five to nine years earned less than certified assistants with the same level of experience, who took home a median salary of approximately $41,824 annually in September 2016.

Ophthalmic assistants generally have no education requirements other than a high school diploma. They usually receive on-the-job training and can complete training toward achieving certification. The job outlook for these professionals is much faster than the average.

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