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Ophthalmology Technician: Job Info & Career Requirements

Read on to learn what an ophthalmology technician does. See what kind of education and training are required for employment. Find out what the career outlook and earning potential are to decide if this field is right for you.

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Career Definition for an Ophthalmology Technician

Ophthalmology technicians assist ophthalmologists in identifying, diagnosing, and treating illnesses, diseases and conditions of the eye. They usually work in an ophthalmologist's office, a vision care clinic or a hospital. Common job duties for ophthalmology technicians include testing and measuring vision function, testing vision acuity, testing color perception, examining the eyes and cornea, applying drops and medications, and performing other tests and duties as needed.

Education High school diploma required, certificate or associate degree recommended
Job Skills Interpersonal and communication skills, prioritization, multitasking
Median Salary (2017) $35,910 for ophthalmic medical technicians
Job Growth (2016-2026) 19% for ophthalmic medical technicians

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

To become an ophthalmology technician, you'll need at least your high school diploma and some additional training from a community college or vocational school. While credential and licensing requirements vary by state and institution, you'll generally need a 1-year certificate or 2-year associate's degree to become an ophthalmology technician. Coursework that will help you prepare for a career in ophthalmology includes visual field testing, lensometry, ocular pharmacology, optics, eye muscle evaluation, mathematics, physics, anatomy, and physiology.

Required Skills

Ophthalmology technicians represent an important link between ophthalmologists and patients; they should have strong interpersonal and communication skills. An ability to prioritize tasks and multitask will also serve you well as an ophthalmology technician.

Economic and Employment Outlook

The employment outlook for ophthalmology technicians is much faster than the national average, with employment in the field expected to grow 19% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual pay for ophthalmology medical technicians was $35,910 in 2017, per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these alternative careers in optics and medical support:

Dispensing Optician

A dispensing optician helps customers choose the right eyeglass frames or contact lenses based on their lifestyle, recreational or occupational needs before submitting prescriptions from optometrists or ophthalmologists to be filled by ophthalmic laboratory technicians. They also take measurements of eyes to ensure proper sizing of frames, make minor adjustments to filled eyeglass prescriptions to ensure a good fit, teach customers how to care for their eyewear and contact lenses, and make minor repairs to broken glasses.

Opticians have at least a high school diploma; postsecondary certificate or associate's degree programs are also available, and on-the-job training is common. State licensing is usually required; qualifications for licensure vary but often include an exam. Professional certification is available; some states require it. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 15% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. Opticians earned median pay of $36,250 in 2017, also per the BLS; states where the highest salaries were earned in 2017 included Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Medical Equipment Repairer

A medical equipment repairer provides service and maintenance on a wide variety of machines, like x-ray machines, defibrillators, electric wheelchairs, and more. Medical equipment repairers focus on fixing or adjusting the electronic, hydraulic, and mechanical systems. Using their mechanical aptitude and knowledge of relevant technical manuals, they can work in hospitals, outpatient care settings, or doctors' offices, as well as for wholesale suppliers and health and medical supply businesses.

This occupation requires a minimum of an associate's degree in biomedical technology or engineering, although a bachelor's degree can provide an advantage to job-seekers. On-the-job training is common. Professional certification is available and can also help medical equipment repairers who seek advancement. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 4% from 2016-2026. Medical equipment repairers earned median pay of $48,820 in 2017, and those who worked in Alaska, Nevada, Nebraska, Delaware, and Minnesota had the highest salaries that year.

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