Optometric assistants perform clerical and support duties for optometrists. They make client appointments, send out reminders and follow up with clients. Bookkeeping and file updating may also be responsibilities of optometric assistants. Preparing patients for their optometric exams often falls under this job description.
After the optometrist performs the examination, the optometric assistant may help a client select eyeglass frames or fit the client with new frames. Assistants can educate contact lens wearers about how to handle their lenses. A small number of optometric assistants work with research and science foundations rather than in optometrists’ officers.
Responsibilities of optometric assistants often include:
About a quarter of optometric assistants hold an associates degree with more than half earning some college credit. Although not always required for employment, optometric assistant programs are available through various colleges. These programs often make a candidate more competitive in the job market. The programs combine education in office management with medical procedures training.
The paraoptometric section of the American Optometric Association provides certification opportunities for optometric assistants who successfully pass their written exams.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical assistants, a general title under which optometric assistants fall, earned a median salary of $28,300 annually in 2008. Optometric assistants who work for research development companies or local government agencies tend to earn more than those working with private optometrists.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics