For information on what an ophthalmic technician is and does, go to the article on ophthalmic technician job description.

There are two primary pathways to certified ophthalmic medical technician (COT®) certification:

1) Accredited Schools and Training Programs

The are two advantages to attending a school or training program for ophthalmic medical personnel. One advantage is that you can become a technician or a technologist without working your way through the lower level(s) of certification. The other advantage is that it is a structured program with a defined timeline.  The main disadvantages are that it costs money and time, and there may not be a program near to where you live.  Another disadvantage is that certification is not guaranteed. The program graduate must still take the certification exam in order to become certified.

Click here for a listing of schools and training programs for ophthalmic assistant, ophthalmic technician, and ophthalmic technologist.

2) On-the-Job Training

When using the on-the-job training route, you must work your way through the levels of certification. You can't become a COT® (technician) unless you have worked as a COA® for one year.  You can't become a COMT® (technologist) until you have worked as a COT® for three years. Click here for information on becoming a certified ophthalmic assistant by the OJT method.


The primary advantage of the OJT method is that you are being paid while you learn and advance.  A disadvantage is that there is usually a loose structure to the training program and you must be a "self-starter" in terms of learning.  


Many OMPs get their start in the field by taking a job in an ophthalmology office as a receptionist or in some other "office" job.  The receptionist proves to be a good employee, and then the receptionist is trained to be an ophthalmic assistant when a job opens up.  The new assistant can advance in the field by becoming a certified assistant and then train/study to become a certified technician and then a certified technologist, all while working in the field and being paid. Click here for help getting started in the technical field of ophthalmology when you have no previous experience.


Requirements for certification as an ophthalmic technician through the On-the-Job Training method:

1. You must be employed at least 2,000 hours (one-year full-time equivalent) as a COA®, under ophthalmologic supervision within 24 months (two-years) prior to submitting your application.

2. You must earn 12 JCAHPO Group A credits within the 12 months (one-year) prior to submitting your exam application.


The Ophthalmic Technician Exam Prep Course comes with 12 group A CE credits.

3. You must maintain certification as a COA while pursuing COT certification.

4. You must complete an application process for the exam. An ophthalmologist must sign your application verifying that you meet the requirements. The examination is multiple choice. The cost is $325 for the initial written exam and initial skill evaluation, $275 for the first written exam retake if you fail, and $150 for the third retake. It costs $85 to retake the skill evaluation, and it costs $85 for a practice skill evaluation.

5. You must pass the written certification exam (multiple choice) first, and then pass a skill evaluation.

Ready to get started? Click here for the step-by-step certification planner.


The ophthalmic technician certification exam is administered by the Joint Commission on Ophthalmic Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology (800-282-3937). Call them to request an application.


#6 Moderator 2016-01-29 04:45
Hi Kelly,
You will need to work your way through the levels of certification, which means starting with the COA exam. You will need to take the JCAHPO approved "home study course" first. See the link below. After that, apply to take the exam ( and begin to study for the exam. has a complete COA exam prep course with everything you need to study. See the link below.
#5 Kelly 2016-01-28 16:11
I have been working in the ophthalmic field since April 2015. I was hired as a tech and have received OTJ, but currently have no certifications. I would like to move up the ladder in the Ophthalmology World. Where should I start and what should I start studying for first? T
#4 Moderator 2016-01-11 02:21
Hi Dianna,
If you work for an ophthalmologist , he/she can sign your application for the COA exam. Then all you need to do is study. See the certification planner on the website for more details. Go to for a COA exam prep course. You must pass the COA exam before you can take the COT exam.
#3 Diana zappa 2016-01-07 19:03
I am ABOC and NCLE , working in the ophthalmic field for for about 30 years. I would like to obtain COA or COT . What should I do ?

Thank you,

#2 Moderator 2015-02-02 05:02
Hi Anna,

JCAHPO administers the exam. Here is a link to the application. If the link does not work for some reason, go to the website,, and click the tab that says "certification/recertification.
#1 Anna 2015-01-30 06:59
Hi, i would like to receive my application. Please email me with steps to receiving it.
Thank you

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