Ophthalmic Technician Job Guide: Skills, Education, Salary & More

By Natalie Winzer, iHire
ophthalmic technician conducting a test on a patient

Do you have a passion for patient care combined with excellent dexterity and a knack for math, science, and technology? Consider pursuing an eye care career as an ophthalmic technician.

Ophthalmic technician jobs require a mix of administrative, clinical, technical, and people skills, making it a great choice for those seeking a challenging yet rewarding career. And with a projected job growth of 19% through 2026, this position will be in high demand for years to come. Learn more about ophthalmic technician jobs including education and certification options, key abilities, salary, and more.

 

What is an Ophthalmic Technician?

Ophthalmic technicians are highly trained professionals and key members of the eye care team. Sometimes referred to as “physician extenders,” they provide comprehensive support to ophthalmologists in daily patient care.

General ophthalmic technician job duties include taking histories, performing vision and diagnostic tests, administering medications, assisting with surgeries, and educating patients. In this position, you may also have the opportunity to train and supervise other team members.

 

ophthalmology team performing eye surgery

 

How to Become an Ophthalmic Technician

Ophthalmic Technician Education

Ophthalmic technicians may choose to achieve degrees in ophthalmic technology (generally two-year associate’s degrees) and/or receive on-the-job training as an ophthalmic assistant prior to pursuing career advancement. The International Council of Accreditation (ICA) for Allied Ophthalmic Education Programs has accredited more than 30 degree and certificate programs in the US to date.

Ophthalmic Technician Certification

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) is the governing body that awards the Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) credential. To earn the COT from JCAHPO, you must meet certain experience and/or educational prerequisites and pass multiple choice and practical exams to demonstrate your clinical competencies. You will also need to complete 27 continuing education credits every three years to maintain your COT.

 

refractometer eye test machine

 

Ophthalmic Technician Skills

Ophthalmic technicians take on a wide range of tasks and responsibilities requiring both technical/clinical knowledge as well as soft skills in order to be successful. Here are a few examples for both categories:

Ophthalmic Technician Clinical Skills

  • History taking/medical charting
  • Pupillary assessment
  • Lensometry
  • Keratometry
  • Ocular motility
  • Refractometry
  • Tonometry
  • Visual assessment and visual fields
  • Contact lenses and spectacles
  • Medication administration
  • Surgical assistance
  • Instrument sterilization/maintenance

 

Ophthalmic Technician Soft Skills

  • Compassion/empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Multitasking
  • Active listening
  • Problem solving
  • Organization
  • Collaborative attitude
  • Ability to educate others

 

ophthalmic technician conducting a test on a patient

 

Ophthalmic Technician Salary

How much do ophthalmic technicians make? According to the BLS, the median ophthalmic technician salary is $35,910, though other sources cite higher numbers:

As with most professions, your salary will depend on your level of training, experience, whether or not you have a certification, your location, and the scope of your supervisory responsibilities.

 

Ready to take the next step in your eye care career and find a rewarding ophthalmic technician job? Check out the open opportunities on iHireOptometry today!

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