University of Wisconsin–Madison

Orthoptist

Getting Started

  • High School Courses

    Students should take a college preparatory curriculum. A science background is recommended.

  • Education and Training
    • A baccalaureate degree (no specific major or prerequisite courses) is required.
    • Bachelor’s degree can be earned at any accredited college or university.
    • The Graduate Record Examination is NOT required as the Orthoptic Program is a Certification Program not a for credit/graduate program.
    • Apply to Orthoptic Fellowship Program. Currently (2016) there are seventeen programs affiliated with medical facilities or universities in the US and Canada that offer Orthoptic curriculum. The Department Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health offers a 24-month fellowship training.
    • The curriculum is both classroom and clinical instruction by staff orthoptists and ophthalmologists in a clinical medical setting.
    • The Orthoptic Program is two intensive years of instruction following a logical sequence of courses to secure an understanding of the visual system. Courses include: anatomy, neuro-anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, diagnostic testing & measurement, systemic diseases & ocular motor disorders, principles of surgery, basic ophthalmic exam techniques, ophthalmic optics and orthoptic treatment.

    Educational Institutions

    University of Minnesota
    University of Wisconsin – Madison

  • Method of Entry
    • Admission criteria vary from training program to training program.
    • To be eligible for national certification one must complete a 24-month Orthoptic fellowship at an accredited program AND have a baccalaureate degree (no specific major)
    • National certification by the American Orthoptic Council (AOC) is obtained by after completing the two-year fellowship, the successful completion of a written and oral/practical examination. The written exam is given at all centers on the same day, usually in June. A candidate earning a passing score is now eligible for the oral/practical section of the examination, which is usually given at one central location in the fall of the year.
    • Upon successful completion of both sections of the exam, candidates are awarded a Certificate and granted the use of the designation “C.O.” after their names.
  • Professional Organizations

    American Academy of Ophthalmology
    655 Beach Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94109
    415/561-8500
    www.aao.org

    American Association of Certified Orthoptists
    655 Beach Street
    San Fransisco, CA, 94109
    414/561-8522
    www.orthoptics.org/

    American Orthoptic Council
    655 Beach Street
    San Fransisco, CA, 94109
    415/561-8522
    orthoptics.org/aoc/

    Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology
    2025 Woodlane Drive
    St. Paul, MN, 55125-2998
    800/482-4858
    www.atpo.org

    Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology
    2025 Woodlane Dr.
    St. Paul, MN, 55125-2998
    651/731-2944 or 800/284-3937
    www.jcahpo.org

    National Academy of Opticianry
    8401 Corporate Dr., Suite 605
    Landover, MD, 20785
    800/229-4828
    www.nao.org/

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 780
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 50,100
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 56,100
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 12%
Expected Annual Openings: 1,770
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $71,985

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Can be varied.
  • Can work part- time.
  • Those more interested in teaching there are opportunities to provide clinical expertise and instruction to medical students, orthoptic students, post doctoral fellows, residents in ophthalmology and clinical staff.
  • Those more academically inclined can participate in clinical research and in the presentation and publication of scientific papers.