Ophthalmic Laser Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an ophthalmic laser technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs and job duties to determine if this is the career for you.

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An ophthalmic laser technician assists ophthalmologists in laser eye surgeries. We will go into greater depth on the duties and qualifications for this occupation.

Essential Information

Ophthalmic laser technicians aid in performing corrective eye procedures such as LASIK. They work in laboratories beside surgical ophthalmologists, preparing and assisting in the surgical procedure. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, but many employers prefer candidates with an associate's degree or a certificate in ophthalmic technology.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent, associate's degree or certificate in ophthalmic technology often preferred
Certification None
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 25% for ophthalmic medical technicians
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $35,350 for ophthalmic medical technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ophthalmic Laser Technician Job Description

Ophthalmic laser technicians typically work in laboratories, standing for long periods of time. Since they assist in surgical procedures and operate equipment, technicians are usually required to wear protective eyewear, masks and gloves. They work directly under ophthalmologists and interact with patients daily. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most technicians work 40 hours per week (www.bls.gov). Private laboratories or ophthalmologists' offices employ many.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that ophthalmic medical technicians earned a median annual salary of $35,350 in May, 2015. The BLS also predicts job growth of 25% over the period of 2014-2024 for ophthalmic laser technicians, which is must faster than average.

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Ophthalmic Laser Technician Duties

An ophthalmic laser technician's job is primarily clinical and focuses on assisting ophthalmologists throughout the surgical procedure. Duties may include measuring optical dimensions and performance, maintaining patient medical records and administering diagnostic exams. This may entail operating pre-surgery equipment such as a slit lamp, which brightens the eye to make it easier to examine, or a tonometer, which assists in measuring eye fluid. Technicians may also sterilize and prepare surgical equipment and assist the surgeon during operation.

Ophthalmic Laser Technician Requirements

While a high school diploma may suffice for becoming an ophthalmic laser technician, many employers prefer candidates with formal training. An associate's degree or a certificate in ophthalmic technology can be earned through a community college or vocational school. A 2-year degree may include courses such as eye physiology and anatomy, eye disease, surgical assistance and an externship. Prospective students should seek training institutes accredited by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA), the leading accrediting agency of ophthalmic education programs in the U.S. (www.coaccreditation.com).

Keen senses and heightened awareness are also necessary for a career as an ophthalmic laser technician. Performing diagnostic tests requires excellent vision and analysis skills to obtain correct measurements. Nimble fingers and mechanical aptitude will help with handling diagnostic and surgical equipment. Also, due to the growth of automated equipment in ophthalmic laboratories, technicians with the best computer skills will enjoy greater job opportunities, according to the BLS.

Ophthalmic laser technicians must complete an associate's or certificate program in ophthalmic technology, and should have steady, agile hands, a good eye, and meticulous disposition. They engage in pre-surgery preparation and help the ophthalmologist during surgery.

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