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The qualifications to become an optometric assistant vary by the laws in your jurisdiction. In some cases, you can receive your training on the job, while in others you must complete a formal training program. You may find it easier to become an optometric assistant if you are already trained or employed as a medical assistant or if you have training or experience in medical office administration. By obtaining professional certification as an optometric assistant or technician, you may be better able to improve your career opportunities.
In many cases, an optometric assistant assumes responsibility for both the clinical care of an optometrist’s patients as well as the administration and management of the optometrist’s office. As a result, having skills and training in both office administration as well as health care can help you to become an optometric assistant. If you have already worked as a receptionist, secretary, or administrative assistant, you may find an optometrist who is willing to hire you and then train you in clinical skills. It may, however, still be to your advantage to enroll in a optometric assistant training program, which may be offered by a vocational school or a community college.
The advantage of completing a formal program that can train you as an optometric assistant or as a medical assistant is that you will learn both clinical skills as well as the office administration skills necessary to the smooth operation of a medical practice. Otherwise, if you are trained on the job to assist an optometrist in performing tests or in helping patients select eyeglass frames, you may decide to pursue training in office skills, such as database and spreadsheet management, so that you can more effectively manage an optometric practice.
After you become an optometric assistant, you may be able to advance in your career by completing the requirements for professional certification. Professional certification is offered through professional organizations for medical assistants and those who work in the area of optometry. In some cases, you can complete a certification program in the area of insurance coding with a specific emphasis on optometric coating, or you can complete various levels of certification in optometric assisting. While certification typically requires you to first obtain a job as an optometric assistant, you may find it easier to find a job in a larger practice if your resume lists one or more professional certifications.