Students who want to become optometric assistants or technicians can pursue training at colleges, technical schools and universities. These schools typically award certificates, though associate's degree programs might be available as well.
Schools for Optometric Technicians and Assistants
These schools provide the necessary training for aspiring optometric technicians and assistants:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (In-state, 2015-2016)*|
|Miami Valley Career Technology Center||Englewood, OH||<2-year, Public||Certificate||$7,950 (program cost, 2017)|
|Oakland Community College||Bloomfield Hills, MI||2-year, Public||Certificate||$5,235|
|Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico - Arecibo||Arecibo, Puerto Rico||4-year, Private||Associate's degree||$5,028|
|Northern Essex Community College||Haverhill, MA||2-year, Public||Certificate||$4,560|
|New Mexico State University - Alamogordo||Alamogordo, NM||2-year, Public||Certificate||$2,328|
|St Philip's College||San Antonio, TX||2-year, Public||Associate's degree||$5,550|
|Spokane Community College||Spokane, WA||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's degree||$3,388|
|Georgia Piedmont Technical College||Clarkston, GA||2-year, Public||Certificate||$2,840|
|Indiana University - Bloomington||Bloomington, IN||4-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's degree||$10,388|
*Sources: National Center for Education Statistics, School websites
School Selection Criteria
Here are some important things to consider when choosing an optometric technician or assistant school:
- Many states require licensure for optometric assistants and technicians. To ensure they qualify for licensure upon graduation, students should look for programs that are accredited by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification.
- Students should consider the amount of time they have to commit to a program as well as their educational goals. While a certificate may be earned in less than a year, a 2-year associate's degree may lead to more job opportunities and be a better investment of time in the long run.
- Students who want to continue working while obtaining their degrees should look for online options, which offer greater scheduling flexibility.
- Students should explore internship and clinical experience opportunities, which may improve job prospects after graduation.
Optometric Technician Certificate Programs
These programs typically consist of 10-20 weeks of classroom instruction and approximately 120 hours of a clinical internship. Instruction often covers such topics as ocular anatomy, eyewear fabrication and contact lens fitting.
Optometric Assistant Certificate Programs
These programs generally require three semesters of study. Students usually are required to complete an internship. Topics of study can include minor surgical assisting and optics.
Optometric Technician Associate's Degree Programs
These 2-year programs consist of general education, as well as field-specific coursework. Both Associate in Science and Associate of Applied Science in Optometric Technician programs are available. Most programs require students to complete at least two internships.
Optometric Assistant Associate's Degree Programs
Optometric assistant degree programs consist of approximately 60 credit hours and require two years of study. Typical degrees awarded include an Associate in Science or Associate in Applied Science in Optometric Assisting. Students typically are required to complete two or more semesters of clinical externships.
There are several certificate and associate's degree programs that can prepare aspiring optometric technicians and assistants for a career in the field. Prospective students should consider factors like accreditation, internship opportunities and program length to make sure they choose the right one.