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Career profile Ophthalmic Technician

Also known as Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technician (Certified Ophthalmic Medical Tech), Certified Ophthalmic Surgical Assistant, Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT), Certified Ophthalmic Technician-Surgical Assistant (COT-SA), Health Technician (Health Tech), Ophthalmic Assistant, Ophthalmic Diagnostic Sonographer, Ophthalmic Medical Assistant, Ophthalmic Medical Technician (Ophthalmic Medical Tech), Ophthalmic Technician

Ophthalmic Technician

Also known as Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technician (Certified Ophthalmic Medical Tech), Certified Ophthalmic Surgical Assistant, Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT)

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Social
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$25,830 - $57,900 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Take and document patients' medical histories.
  • Conduct tonometry or tonography tests to measure intraocular pressure.
  • Operate ophthalmic equipment, such as autorefractors, phoropters, tomographs, or retinoscopes.
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What does an Ophthalmic Technician do?

Ophthalmic Technicians assist ophthalmologists by performing ophthalmic clinical functions.

In addition, Ophthalmic Technicians may administer eye exams, administer eye medications, and instruct the patient in care and use of corrective lenses.

What kind of tasks does an Ophthalmic Technician perform regularly?

Ophthalmic Technicians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Take and document patients' medical histories.
  • Conduct tonometry or tonography tests to measure intraocular pressure.
  • Operate ophthalmic equipment, such as autorefractors, phoropters, tomographs, or retinoscopes.
  • Take anatomical or functional ocular measurements of the eye or surrounding tissue, such as axial length measurements.
  • Measure visual acuity, including near, distance, pinhole, or dynamic visual acuity, using appropriate tests.
  • Measure and record lens power, using lensometers.
  • Administer topical ophthalmic or oral medications.
  • Conduct visual field tests to measure field of vision.
  • Assist physicians in performing ophthalmic procedures, including surgery.
  • Measure corneal curvature with keratometers or ophthalmometers to aid in the diagnosis of conditions, such as astigmatism.
  • Conduct ocular motility tests to measure function of eye muscles.
  • Clean or sterilize ophthalmic or surgical instruments.
  • Maintain ophthalmic instruments or equipment.
  • Instruct patients in the care and use of contact lenses.
  • Assess refractive conditions of eyes, using retinoscopes.
  • Call patients to inquire about their post-operative status or recovery.
  • Assist patients to insert or remove contact lenses.
  • Conduct binocular disparity tests to assess depth perception.

The above responsibilities are specific to Ophthalmic Technicians. More generally, Ophthalmic Technicians are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

What is an Ophthalmic Technician salary?

The median salary for an Ophthalmic Technician is $37,940, and the average salary is $40,010. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Ophthalmic Technician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Ophthalmic Technicians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Ophthalmic Technicians earn less than $25,830 per year, 25% earn less than $31,030, 75% earn less than $47,490, and 90% earn less than $57,900.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Ophthalmic Technicians is expected to change by 14.3%, and there should be roughly 5,500 open positions for Ophthalmic Technicians every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$25,830 - $57,900
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Ophthalmic Technicians?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Ophthalmic Technician are usually higher in their Conventional and Social interests.

Ophthalmic Technicians typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Ophthalmic Technicians typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Ophthalmic Technician tend to value Relationships, Support, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Ophthalmic Technicians strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Ophthalmic Technicians moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Ophthalmic Technicians moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Ophthalmic Technicians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, self-control, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Ophthalmic Technicians, ranked by importance:

Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

What education and training do Ophthalmic Technicians need?

Ophthalmic Technicians often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Ophthalmic Technicians usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Ophthalmic Technicians

  • 8.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 38.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 26.7% completed some college coursework
  • 13.8% earned a Associate's degree
  • 10.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.1% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Ophthalmic Technicians

Ophthalmic Technicians may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, medicine and dentistry, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Ophthalmic Technicians might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Ophthalmic Technicians

Ophthalmic Technicians must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Ophthalmic Technicians need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Ophthalmic Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Ophthalmic Technicians

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Ophthalmic Technicians frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Ophthalmic Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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