How To Become An Optometrist Assistant
If you’re organized with good people skills and a passion for vision care, you might be suited to a career as an optometrist assistant. An optometrist assistant may sometimes be referred to as an optical assistant, optician assistant, or optometric assistant. Either way, the job responsibilities are the same.
As with any potential career path, it can be difficult to determine from the outset whether it’s right for you. So, this career guide aims to answer all your questions, from what an optometrist is and what your role would be as their assistant to licensing and education requirements.
Starting with an optometrist assistant job description and ending with an assistant salary overview, you’ll find everything you need to kickstart your career below.
What is an optometrist?
According to the American Optometric Association, optometrists are primary healthcare specialists who assist patients with eye health. Given that over 16 million Americans struggle with their vision, it’s clear to see that it’s an important position. That’s why they have to attend optometry school and why, according to the Labor Statistics BLS website, the occupation is growing by about 4% per year.
In terms of responsibilities, an optometrist carries out regular eye examinations and determines if a patient needs eyeglasses or contact lenses. He or she then fits eyeglasses and contact lenses as required. And, if there are signs of ill-health, they will signpost patients to the appropriate services.
Generally speaking, an optometrist will require at least one optometric assistant to help them manage their patient load effectively.
What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?
If an optometrist detects conditions or diseases during an examination, they may direct the affected patient to an ophthalmic medical practitioner. While the two occupations have their similarities, the scope of practice differs. You see, optometrists tend not to diagnose or treat more serious eye conditions such as dry eye and glaucoma.
In these cases, it is up to the ophthalmologist to step in and provide the necessary medical assistance. They can prescribe medication, which not all optometrists can do, and come up with a long-term treatment plan. For more information, check out the American Academy of Ophthalmology website.
Despite their differences, one key similarity is the fact that ophthalmologists need assistants, too. They are also sometimes called an ophthalmic assistant or ophthalmic technician.
What does an optometrist assistant do?
Optometrist assistant duties are wide-ranging but fall into three broad categories. The first category of job duties involves customer interaction. It includes being the first point of contact for patients and answering any questions they might have. The second category involves administrative work, including helping to schedule appointments and overseeing transactions.
Finally, an optometry technician will play a key role in providing eye care. While it is by no means their job to treat eye diseases, they help by performing routine visual acuity tests and preparing examination rooms before and after appointments. Together, this array of responsibilities makes it a stimulating and rewarding career path.
What skills should an optometrist assistant have?
For starters, an optometry assistant needs to have a comprehensive knowledge base, good interpersonal skills, and essential administrative abilities. They must, in other words, be versatile and adaptable. While such a diverse range of skills might make the role sound somewhat intimidating, an online short course will teach you all you need to know.
To gain the appropriate skills, start by building out your understanding of relevant medical terminology. Then, work on your understanding of routine eye tests and vision screening methods. Once you know about the treatment of eye conditions, you can begin working on your front office skills and improving your attention to detail with administration.
In addition, it helps to know about up-to-date eyeglass fashion trends. With that sort of knowledge at your fingertips, you can assist patients in finding the perfect new pair. This is the sort of service that is sure to be appreciated, both by the people you help and your boss.
How to become an optometrist assistant?
If you’re wondering how to become an optometrist assistant, there are a few steps you’ll need to know about. Before applying for an optometric assistant job, it is crucial you understand the education requirement first.
You should also know about work experience and licensing requirements. That said, here is everything you’ll need to know before setting foot on your new career path.
Optometrist assistant education
Your optometrist assistant education must start with earning your high school diploma or a GED equivalency. This is the minimum education requirement to work in your desired field and there are no exceptions. You can then, if you desire, go on to earn an associate’s degree. There are optometric assistant degree courses at schools and community colleges across the country.
However, while getting a higher education can be beneficial, you are not required to apply to a degree program. Doing so would help to prove that you have the skills required to do a good job, although there are other ways of doing that. You could, for example, complete a certification program that you can take at your own pace and in your own time. More on this shortly.
Optometrist assistant licensing
At this stage, most aspiring optometrist assistants want to know what licenses they’ll need. And the good news is that they don’t need any at all. While all optometrists and ophthalmologists have to acquire the specific licensing for the state in which they operate, their assistants need nothing of the sort.
Just keep in mind that, if you want to work as an optometric assistant as a means of eventually becoming an optician yourself, you will have to be licensed to progress. So, be sure to check out your local licensing requirements and ensure you’re educated to the appropriate level.
Optometrist assistant work experience
You may be worried about finding work as an optometric assistant. This could be because of your educational background or maybe it’s due to a lack of practices in your area. If that’s the case, consider applying for voluntary work experience. While you will not, of course, be paid, the experience you gain could be invaluable.
After just a few weeks or months of work experience, your resume and cover letter will look far more impressive. Not only will you have hands-on training in an actual optometry practice, but you’ll also have demonstrated significant ambition and dedication.
Optometrist assistant online course
Some people don’t have the time to drop what they’re doing to get a GED or work for free. If that’s the case for you, there’s no need to worry. One of the most time-efficient and cost-effective ways of improving your resume is to complete an online optometrist assistant certification program.
The Courses for Success Optical Assistant Online Certificate Course is ideal. It requires just 24 hours of study which you can complete entirely at your own pace. Unlike most other qualifications in the field, this certification program has been built with busy people in mind.
Across 12 modules, which have been developed by industry experts, you will learn the key skills an optical assistant has to have. From insights into common eye problems and key terms to practical on-the-job advice, it equips you with all the knowledge and tools you’ll need at the start of your journey and beyond
How much does an optometrist assistant make?
If you’re wondering “how much does an optometrist assistant make?”, the average base salary is around $43,800 a year. This is far higher than minimum wage, so it will more than cover your cost of living. The standard optometric assistant salary will vary, though. It tends to start at around $37,500 a year and can be as high as $61,000 for those with a recognized optician certificate or industry experience.
In comparison, the average salary for an optometrist is just shy of $129,000. If your long-term ambition is to become an optician, your assistant salary could grow pretty quickly as you progress. That is, of course, if you have the appropriate level of education and acquire the right licenses. From a typical optometric assistant job description to the base salary and everything in between, this career info covers all essential bases.
The key point, though, is that there are certain skills you will have to acquire if you want to work as an optometrist assistant. The quickest and best way of doing so is to complete an online short course. When you do, you set yourself up well for a fulfilling career that has plenty of room for progression.
Why Courses for Success?
Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.
You don’t need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. With every course we offer created to be as accessible as possible, you can be sure that all of them, from our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, will help to boost your prospects, no matter who you are.
Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued with a certificate online after successful completion of each of the learning courses they do. Our optometrist assistant courses are no exception. Our online optometrist assistant certificates are recognized by industry leaders. You could really make a name for yourself as an optometrist assistant by signing up for a Courses for Success short course.