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Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Skills and Qualifications

Certified ophthalmic assistants should be organized and focused, have the dexterity to use precision tools and equipment, and possess great interpersonal skills to work effectively as part of a team. Typically, employers will require a high school diploma, as well as the following abilities:
  • Communication skills - COAs usually work as part of a team, so it's important that they have good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills - certified ophthalmic assistants need to be organized and able to manage their time effectively in order to carry out a variety of duties and to ensure that patient information is updated accurately
  • Computer literacy - COAs need to be computer literate in order to update records and databases, and to use computerized equipment for ocular measurements
  • Listening skills - it's important that COAs can follow instructions clearly and precisely, so good listening skills are important
  • Dexterity - COAs work with precise tools and equipment, so they need to have the dexterity to use these items correctly and safely

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become a certified ophthalmic assistant is a high school diploma, although employers prefer candidates who have completed a program in ophthalmic medical assisting at college or university. Entry-level COAs typically receive on-the-job training from experienced colleagues. The Commission on Accreditation of Ophthalmic Medical Programs (CoA-OMP) accredits ophthalmology assistant programs, which have varying curricula but generally offer an overview of ocular anatomy, terminology, diagnostic procedures, clinical procedures, and much more. Ophthalmic assistant training programs can take up to a year to complete, although there are some programs available which are shorter in duration.

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for certified ophthalmic assistants is nearly $37,000, according to PayScale. Certified ophthalmic assistants in the 10th percentile earn around $27,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $50,000 a year. Companies paying the higher end of this pay scale include bonuses of up to $2,000, and profit sharing opportunities of up to $3,000. Around 75% of companies provide medical and dental cover as part of their benefits package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the growth rate for this sector is expected to grow by 13 percent through 2026.

Helpful Resources

We've collected some of the best resources to help you learn more about developing a career as a certified ophthalmic assistant.

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Study Guide - this book is designed to help those studying to become a certified ophthalmic assistant, and includes a self-assessment section with over 300 multiple-choice questions and a practice exam with 100 additional questions. The book covers a wide range of topics, from lensometry to medical ethics to legal issues.

Ophthalmology and Optometry Network - a group for anyone in the optometry and ophthalmology field, this LinkedIn group has over 21,000 members. For COAs in training, or those who have just started working in the industry, groups like this are a great way to network with more experienced professionals, learn new skills and ask questions, and to stay up to date with developments in the industry.

The Ophthalmic Assistant: A Text for Allied and Associated Ophthalmic Personnel - a fantastic resource for ocular diseases, surgical procedures, medications, equipment, and much more. This book provides a great introduction to a variety of topics for ophthalmic assistants and others working in ocular care,.

EyeSmart - a comprehensive website for up-to-date eye health information, this site is provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and provides ophthalmologist-reviewed information about news, tips, diseases, and treatments, which can help COAs in training become more familiar with terminology, medications, and disease advice.

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