Orthoptist Career

Planning out the future always involves some important career decisions. Choosing a profession is the first step towards creating a better life. Making the choice to become a professional orthoptist can help steer individuals towards a rewarding career that includes competitive pay and health benefits. The choice to become an orthoptist also equips individuals with a specialized set of skills that are in constant demand.

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Career Overview

Orthoptics deals with the science of eye movements. Through extensive training, orthoptists are furnished with a broad knowledge base regarding eye movements. They also diagnose and treat defectiveness within the eye. This includes amblyopia, double vision and binocular vision. Orthoptists evaluate vision and make assessments based on a thorough examination and analysis. Tests are administered by orthoptists to discover the source of the problem. They also oversee corrective eye exercises and can even provide a treatment plan to those with eye deficiencies.

Orthoptists comprise part of an eye care team and generally work well in a team environment. Since dealing with patients is a part of the job, they also possess a fair amount of people skills. Some orthoptists work as part of research teams while others are entrusted with the duty of assisting in the instruction of individuals who are going through their fellowship.

Orthoptists have been able to take their skills to a wide range of workplaces, such as hospitals, universities, private practices and in retail outlets specializing in eye care. They are part of a profession that plays a unique and specific role in the eye care industry.

Orthoptist Certification Requirements

Orthoptic certifications are issued by the American Orthoptic Council (AOC). In order to be eligible for this certification, candidates must have completed two years in an accredited fellowship program. Those two years include clinical work in addition to practical and classroom work. There is also a need to receive a recommendation from a supervisor within that fellowship program. Once those requirements have been met, candidates are cleared to take the certification examination.

The AOC exam includes a combination of written, oral and practical test sections. The written portion of the exam is administered during one month of the year as June is the only time candidates can take that part of the exam. Candidates must also first pass that written portion in order to be eligible for the oral and practical sections. Once all of those examination sections have been passed, a certification is awarded.

Those who receive passing scores are then able to use the title of C.O. after their names, which stands for Certified Orthoptist. That certification is subject to revocation should an orthoptist violate the AOC code of ethics. There is also a requirement that certified orthoptists continue their education with additional credits during their professional career.

Certification programs focus on the anatomy and physiology of the eye, ocular pharmacology, various diagnostic tests and much more. Over the course of a certification program, students will also evaluate hundreds of patients.

Meeting Education Requirements

To become an orthoptist, it is strongly recommended that candidates earn a Bachelor’s Degree, preferably in some kind of science. However, a Bachelor’s Degree is not required to begin a fellowship program, which is the required route orthoptists take towards establishing a career. These fellowship programs must be accredited. Non-accredited programs will fail to meet job qualifications. These fellowship programs are rather limited throughout the United States and typically take 24 months to complete. The limited number of programs makes gaining admission a relatively competitive field. That competitiveness also emphasizes the importance of attaining a Bachelor’s Degree on the way to becoming an orthoptist.

Meeting State Licensing Requirements

There is no licensing procedure for orthoptists as mandated by any state. Prospective employers will not ask for a license as a job requirement, but certifications are almost always required. Each state medical board oversees a variety of medical licenses, although orthoptists do not fall into the category of medical professionals who need to maintain any kind of state license.

Orthoptist Salary

Depending upon the place of employment, orthoptists average anywhere from $56,000 to $84,000 annually in the United States. The general average salary of an orthoptist is $74,710 per year. Much of the specifics in regards to salary are contingent on the type of practice or facility that employs an orthoptist. Some orthoptists work in clinical research while others find employment in more traditional settings. There is expected to be a 12% job increase for orthoptists working in the United States over the next ten years.


American Association of Certified Orthoptists

The AOC sets the guidelines for certification requirements and a multitude of information pertinent to this profession is available on their website.

Orthoptist Job Listings

Here is a look at some of the current job openings for orthoptists, along with salaries and job requirements.

The International Orthoptic Association

This international association provides news, events, workshops and much more to the global orthoptic community.

History of Orthoptics

Learn about the history and evolution of orthoptics as its origins and more are explored on this informative website.