Optometry is an incredibly important field of medicine. What's more crucial than making sure people can see properly? While the road to becoming an optometrist involves many years of study and rigorous training, a more accessible job that still pays well is that of an ophthalmic assistant.
Let's not sugarcoat it too much, though. While becoming a COA (certified ophthalmic assistant) is a fulfilling career that requires less intensive schooling than becoming an optometrist, it's still a difficult job that makes many demands of you. In this guide, Exam Edge will discuss how to become a COA and provide you with some resources to help you on your career journey.
Ophthalmic assistants are sometimes called ophthalmic technicians, though the title of technician is usually reserved for those who have received additional certification. Ophthalmic assistants are responsible for taking eye measurements, helping the optometrist with medical and surgical procedures, administering medication, and more. They also sterilize medical equipment, which is an enormous responsibility that can affect patient safety.
There are several requirements that dictate how to become an optometrist assistant. For starters, you must have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. Then, you will need to undergo COA training through a vocational training program. Usually, you can find these programs at accredited colleges and universities.
However, education is not the only requirement. While earning a certification isn't always necessary, many employers look for COAs who have passed the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnelin Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) exam. Upon passing this test, you will also need to complete a skill evaluation. This is a computer simulation in seven parts, which you take over the course of two hours, and it covers concepts like pharmacology, visual fields, ocular motility, clinical optics, and contact lenses.
The JCAHPO certification exam for COAs is extremely complex and comprehensive. It covers topics spanning the breadth of your responsibilities as an ophthalmic assistant. This includes taking patients' medical histories, contact lenses, pupillary assessment, maintaining and repairing equipment, medical ethics, ocular motility, lensometry and keratometry, ophthalmic patient services and education, and more.
The minimum score to pass the certification exam is 72. But, by using Exam Edge optometry practice tests, you can ensure that you pass with flying colors.
Once you have completed your certification exam and skill assessment, you're well on your way to becoming an ophthalmologist assistant! There are a few steps you should take to improve your career outlook, though. You might consider joining a professional organization, such as the Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology. These organizations provide a way for you to earn continuing education credits as well as opportunities for networking with other professionals in your field.
Speaking of continuing education, you'll need to renew your certification once every 36 months (that's three years). While you don't have to retake the certification exam, you need to earn those continuing education credits in order to maintain your certification. You may also want to pursue additional certification in optometry-related positions to increase your status on the job market. Check out our online resources for more tips, like this post on seven habits to advance your career.
At Exam Edge, we take online test preparation seriously. Our trove of resources is designed to help you study for exams in all kinds of career and educational niches. By far the most effective tool in test prep, though, is a practice test.
There are numerous benefits to taking practice exams. For starters, taking these tests lets you become more familiar with the pacing, stress level, and intensity of the real certification exam. Also, practice tests provide an accurate measurement of your abilities, showing you how you'd likely do on the real test if you were to take it today.
Our practice exams go a step further, though. Available in both timed and untimed styles, the tests provide explanations for all wrong answers. This allows you not only to learn why your selection was incorrect, but to keep track of exactly which subjects are giving you a hard time. Then, you can craft your own study sessions based on the concepts you have down pat and the ones that need more work.
Ready to become a COA? You can purchase a set of practice exams directly from Exam Edge to get started preparing for your certification test. The job pays an average of around $39,000 per year, but certifications, higher test scores, and additional credentials can help you boost that pay. Plus, the COA position is a good foot in the door for other jobs in optometry.
Turn to Exam Edge for all the resources you need to grow your career pathway and take your life to the next level.