What Is a Certified Paraoptometric Technician?

A certified paraoptometric technician (CPOT) is a professional who has attained national recognition by certification that they possess the abilities to understand, apply and interrelate fundamental concepts in optometric care.

A CPOT works under the direct supervision of an optometrist in most cases. They perform a variety of technical and administrative duties that relate to eye care, including:

  • Taking patient histories
  • Measuring the level of visual acuity
  • Measuring how much the cornea curves in each eye; known as keratometry
  • Screening for glaucomafslarfs
  • Perform basic business tasks including keeping sales records; tracking prescriptions for each customer, and ordering and keeping inventory
  • Testing blood pressure, which affects eye health
  • Measuring the distance from one pupil to the other

A CPOT also may order eyewear that the optometrist prescribes; change contact lenses; explain how contact lenses should be cared for; take pictures of the interior or each eye, and supervise staff.

Being certified is the best path for the most employment options as a CPOT. Some employers may assist you in training to become a CPOT.

How to Become a CPOT

A CPOT is a type of optician, and most enter this occupation by earning either an associate’s degree or certificate in the field from a community college or technical school. Expect to take courses in the following areas:

  • Eye physiology
  • Mathematics
  • Optics
  • Business management
  • Optical physics
  • Precision vision measurement instruments

After you have earned your degree or certificate, you then need to attain your CPOT certification.

How to Attain CPOT Certification

To become a certified paraoptometric technician, you need to take and pass a national examination. The test has 225 multiple choice questions that test your knowledge in these areas:

  • Pre-testing procedures: Visual acuity; vision screening; color vision, and stereo acuity
  • Clinical procedures: Tonometry; visual fields; contact lenses; vision therapy; first aid and triage; vision rehab and ocular procedures
  • Ophthalmic optics and dispensing: Principles of light; lenses; selecting frames; adjustment
  • Refractive status of each eye, binocularity: Errors of refraction; refractive conditions; eye movements and binocular vision
  • Anatomy and physiology: Anatomy and physiology of the eye; pharmacology; it is especially important to understand eye muscles and how they work together

Practice management: How to manage a vision care office; professional issues; state and federal laws and regulations; health information technology

How to Qualify to Take the CPOT Examination

To qualify to sit for the CPOT examination, candidates must meet all of the following standards:

  • Have at least six months of eye care employment as a Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA), or have graduated or been a student in your last quarter of study in an optometric technician program that has been approved by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE).
  • All candidates for the CPOT certification have to complete the CPOT examination in a period of 18 months prior to the CPOT credential being awarded.

How to Maintain CPOT Certification

The Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC) maintains a renewal program that ensures that paraoptometrics are current on all skills and knowledge in this field.

The intent of recertification is to be certain that all CPOTs are maintaining their competence in their work, by increasing their practice knowledge; improving skills; encouraging peer interaction and meeting and exceeding professional standards. There are two options to maintain your CPOT certification:

  • Option 1: Professionals who hold CPOT certification have to earn at least 18 hours of CE credits every 36 months. Proof has to be provided of these credits to the CPC by November 1 of the year of renewal. All CEs that have been submitted for recertification have to be attained before the deadline date of November 1.
  • Option 2: CPOTs also may choose to recertify by submitting an application for and passing the exam for the next higher level of certification in the field.

Not meeting either of these requirements will result in losing your CPOT certification.

Certified Paraoptometric Technician Job Outlook

The job outlook for all opticians, including CPOTs, is excellent, with job demand poised to increase by an impressive 24% by 2024. This is a rapid level of job growth that is typical of healthcare professions in the US generally.

Employment in this field is due to a rapid growth in the population of older Americans. There are millions of Baby Boomers who have or will entire retirement soon. These older Americans are living longer than in the past, with many living well into their 80s. People normally have more eye problems and vision changes as they age.

Also, there are higher rates of chronic disease in the older population. More certified paraoptometric technicians will be needed in the coming years to meet the growing demand.

Older Americans tend to get diabetes at a higher rate, especially because of the large numbers of obese in the country. This leads to more diabetes cases, and this disease can lead to serious eye disorders. Glaucoma is another common eye problem for senior citizens.

Many CPOTs can expect to find a lot of available work in group medical practices. Both optometrists and ophthalmologists are offering contact lens and eyeglass fitting services today to increase their revenue streams. More CPOTs will be needed to fill these roles in the future.

Salary Potential

More professionals are being attracted to the CPOT role because the median salary is $35,500, which is a solid rate for a one or two-year educational program. The top 10% earn up to $57,180 per year.

The median wage for this position will vary depending upon the type of office in which you work:

  • Doctor’s office: $39,400
  • Health or personal care store: $36,600
  • Optometrist office: $34,040
  • Department store: $30,650

Summary

Becoming a certified paraoptometric technician or CPOT offers you the opportunity to start your career in the rapidly growing vision services field. After you earn CPOT certification, you can expect solid growth potential in the optician and optometry fields.

References

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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