Optometric Assistant | What They Do, Salary, Certification, Required Skills & More.

Optometric Assistant
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Optometric Assistant is one of the highly sought careers in the health sector, so if you are looking for a headway into the health sector, here is one.

Who is an Optometric Assistant?

An optometrist is a medical professional who offers care and treatment for the eyes. Thus an optometric assistant who is also known as an optician assistant, optometrist assistant, optometric technician or paraoptometrics is a medical professional that assists an optometrist or optician.

Optometric Assistant Job Description

Optometric assistant jobs require that they perform several duties which include clinical duties, administrative, and customer service to assist optometrists. They usually work in hospitals, eye clinics, eye care, or eyewear stores and may be required to wear uniforms, scrubs, or lab coats to work.

They mostly work 5 days in the week but sometimes during weekends. Optometric assistant jobs might get stressful because sometimes it requires standing for long hours.

What are the Duties of an Optometric Assistant?

In their administrative capacity, optometric technicians are usually responsible for scheduling appointments, answering phone calls, and helping the optometrist to take vision acuity tests of patients.

When it comes to performing customer service duties, an optician assistant is responsible for greeting patients and welcoming them, answering their questions, advising them on what frames they should choose, etc. They can also adjust and repair eyewear frames as well as adjust eye contact lenses.

Optometrist assistants are also responsible for scheduling customer appointments with the optometrist, they document patient histories and file insurance claims for patients.

They are also responsible for maintaining inventory and prepare the patients for vision examinations by taking visual acuity measurements as well as measuring the distance between the pupils of the patient.

They also offer advice and vision therapy to patients about their eye health and educate them on proper eye, eyewear, and contact lens care. They can also place orders for prescriptions,  and contact lenses for customers.

Requirements To Become an Optometric Assistant

To become an optometrist assistant, there are some educational requirements and skills you must have. The first educational qualification you need is a High school diploma or GED. Without this, you might not be able to obtain a degree or complete a certificate program which is also necessary.

A degree in optometry, optical technology, or in a medical assisting field is very important to becoming an optometric assistant because these will teach you how to interact with patients, how to read and understand prescriptions, and the proper use of lens fabrication.

As a student of optometry, you will also learn all about the anatomy and physiology of the eye and also the law and ethics of the optical profession.

The duration of any optometric assistant training program varies according to state. However, the average duration is about six months.

Some employers require that you have a level of experience to become an optometrist assistant, so it is advisable to intern for some months or few years before you start looking for a job.

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How to Become a Certified Optometric Assistant

Although being certified is not mandatory for employment, however, it gives you an advantage in the job market. To become a certified optometrist assistant you can choose from the various certification options which are available according to each state.

The available certification programs include Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) program. To obtain this certification, you need to complete six months of internship or must be completing your last semester of an acceptable educational program.

The second certification program is the Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) program which is for the entry-level. To obtain this certification, you must have a high school diploma and at least six months of experience. You must also pass an exam that will prove your knowledge and understanding of optometric care.

Becoming a certified assistant allows you to learn more procedures such as the different methods of fitting contact lenses appropriately, the use of other complex optical equipment, and optical math.

As a certified optometric assistant, you can also make prescriptions, dispense medication, glasses, and contact lenses, and cut, coat, or tint lenses in the lab.

Optometric Assistant Licensing

There is no process to become a licensed optometrist assistant but it is important to note that paraoptometrics can work to become an optometrist.

Required Skills To Become an Optometric Assistant.

As an optometric assistant, you must always pay attention to details. This will help you notice when something is amiss or when a patient is not comfortable and will help you ensure safety at work.

An optician assistant should also have the ability to multitask because they are saddle with clerical, administrative, and customer service duties. This will help them to attend to everyone efficiently and in an organized manner.

It is also important that you possess excellent communication and interpretational skills. You should be friendly, courteous, and able to maintain a good relationship with different people of different ages.

This will enhance your relationship with patients and will also help you understand and follow instructions from the optometrist properly.

Being careful is another important quality an optometrist assistant should possess because of the delicate nature of the work is, it is important that you handle all your work tools with care especially when working on a patient.

Optometric technicians should be approachable and have the ability to work with others as a team. This is because you might not always work as an individual but with other professionals. This will help all members of the team carry out any procedures efficiently.

Due to the frequent developments in technology, it is very important that as a paraoptometric you are eager to learn new things and enthusiastic about the job.

Optometric Assistant Salary

The average salary for an optometric assistant is $14.63 per hour which is $8,883 per month and $125,458 per year. However, it is important to note that some optometric assistants may earn either lesser or higher due to level of education, experience, place of work or employer, and other factors.

Pros and Cons of Becoming an Optometrist Assistant.

Just like everything else, being an optometrist assistant also has its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros.

Being an optometrist assistant allows you to help people and make an impact on their lives. When you help an optometrist treat a patient, you make the life of the person better. A simple eye exams visit may turn into a life-saving medical exam for a patient with a nerve tumor which he or she knows nothing about. 

Not only does it allow you to impact lives, but it also allows you to see the results of your work immediately.

Although some days might get crazy, working as an optometric technician is not as stressful as other jobs. Research has shown that optometry is among the most stress-free professions because there are hardly any emergencies and the job is specific.

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Being an optometric technician gives you the right footing to start your career as an optometrist. It also inspires you to start your own business.

Optician assistants usually work  40 hours per week without any on-call appointments or night shifts. This allows you enough time to enjoy personal time with your family and loved ones.

The work environment is usually clean, comfortable, and well-structured. With the right safety precautions put in place,  paraoptometrics can practice and perform procedures without much exposure to any contagious bodily fluid.

Cons

Attending optometry school is quite expensive. Thus you might spend a lot of money if you want to become an optometric assistant.

Due to the nature of the job, you get to meet with a lot of different people daily. Some patients can be quite difficult and rude which might sometimes ruin your mood.

Although optician assistant pay is quite good, it can not be compared to most medical professions such as dentistry and medicine.

Sometimes, the job might get boring because it is quite repetitive. As an optometric technician, you might have to go through the same routines every day and this may lead to losing interest.

Having an optometry degree limits career mobility. Unlike the medical degree, an optometry degree doesn’t allow you to work anywhere else except in the eye care sector

Frequently Asked Questions

No! The job of an optometric assistant is to help the optometrist perform such procedures.

To become an optometrist assistant, there are some educational requirements and skills you must have. The first educational qualification you need is a High school diploma or GED. While some optometric techs hold an associate degree, many employers provide all the training.

The average optometric assistant pay is $14.63 per hour which is $8,883 per month and $125,458 per year. However, it is important to note that some optometric assistants may earn either lesser or higher due to level of education, experience, place of work or employer, and other factors.

Conclusion

Becoming an optometrist assistant is a good step to becoming an optician. You can further your education, get a certification and a license if you wish and you begin to practice as an optometrist.

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