U.S. News and World Report listed ophthalmic medical technician as one of the best health care jobs of 2016 and the need for the ophthalmic medical technicians is expected to grow 25% between 2014 and 2024.
This career is a good fit for those with an interest in science and math, a commitment to helping people and good problem-solving skills.
Ophthalmic medical technicians—also known as allied ophthalmic personnel—work with an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to provide patient care by performing eye-related clinical tasks such as:
- Taking patient medical histories
- Instructing patients about medications, tests and procedures
- Performing vision and diagnostic tests
- Assisting with patient procedures
- Coordinating patient scheduling
- Supervising and training other allied ophthalmic personnel
- Performing office management duties
Unlike dispensing opticians who fit contact lenses and glasses, ophthalmic medical technicians work directly with an ophthalmologist conducting patient eye examinations and tests. They are “physician extenders,” allowing ophthalmologists to see more patients in a day.
This career has long-term advancement potential, and higher levels of compensation and responsibility are available through achieving higher levels of certification.
Ophthalmic medical technicians work 35 to 40 hours per week in a clean, well-lit office setting. They generally do not work on evenings or weekends, but there are exceptions. Because they are in constant contact with patients, ophthalmic medical technicians with outgoing personalities tend to be successful. They must have manual dexterity to operate equipment and spend much of the day walking and standing.
Salary Range and Outlook
Salaries vary depending on level of training, experience, level of certification and location. The average starting salary for an ophthalmic medical technician is $42,500 while the salary average overall is $52,500. Technicians with a lot of experience and a high level of certification earn an average salary of approximately $60,000.
You can enter the field two different ways:
- On-the-job training and independent study: Most ophthalmic practices have their own on-the-job training and procedures for entry-level ophthalmic medical technicians who have no experience or education in the field. If you cannot attend an accredited training program, you can study from your own home on your own time.
- Accredited training program: Accredited ophthalmic training programs are available in academic institutions ranging in length from three to six months, two years and four years.
- Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology
- Commission on Accreditation of Ophthalmic Medical Programs
- Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology