Ophthalmic technicians are medical assistants who work in eye care offices assisting ophthalmologists or optometrists. In ophthalmic certificate programs, students learn to take a patient's medical history, administer various vision tests and manage a medical office. A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Programs typically take six months to two years but there are shorter programs available. Students may also receive advanced training in areas such as visual fields and contact lenses. Associate and bachelor's degree programs are available, but here we will focus on the certificate program option.
Ophthalmic Technician Certificate
Applicants for ophthalmic technician certificate programs may need prerequisite courses in English, math and social studies. Some schools may have assessment tests to determine computer skills and supplemental coursework could be required. Programs incorporate equipment training and patient assessment skills through didactic coursework and clinical fieldwork. Specific course topics include:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Ocular diseases
- Visual and ocular technology
- Eye treatments
Students are prepared to take the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) examination, but longer programs provide the experience needed to immediately sit for the Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COTs) examination.
Career Outlook and Salary Info
According to the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO), employers prefer to hire certified assistants and technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the median expected salary for ophthalmic medical technicians was $35,350 in May 2015. The BLS also predicts a 10% rate of employment growth for ophthalmic medical technicians between 2014 and 2024.
Ophthalmic technicians have several options for certification available through the JCAHPO. Certified professionals must complete continuing education credits every three years in order to maintain their credentials. Such programs are available through lectures, workshops, online courses or self-study, and are often sponsored by the JCAPHO. Credit earned in certificate programs may be applied to an associate's or bachelor's degree program.
An ophthalmic technician certificate program allows students to learn the skills needed to work as an ophthalmic technician.