Testing for certification? Paraoptometric exam handbook, PRC resources necessities

July 29, 2021
An updated paraoptometric examination candidate handbook is available for reference as staff prepare for their certification exams.
Paraoptometric Certification & Renewal

Paraoptometric certification is an asset that promotes a skilled, cohesive care team to build a practice around for years to come, and equipping staff with the right resources ensures that investment flourishes.

Increasingly, Americans’ demand for primary eye health care services delivered by optometry, as well as the rising tide of optometric scope of practice advances nationwide, mean optometry practices will need competent paraoptometric staff who can demonstrate a certain high level of clinical capabilities and practice management knowledge to truly set themselves apart. Such is the case, paraoptometric certification is the way to ensure optometry practices get ahead.

Developed by a panel of AOA doctors and paraoptometrics, paraoptometric certification ensures practice staff stay up to date in contemporary continuing education (CE) and professional development. Each level of certification requires successful completion of an exam prepared and administered by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC), with the assistance of Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), to ensure mastery of the specific skillsets.

“For a paraoptometric, certification provides recognition, expands professional growth and acknowledges the degree of knowledge and dedication to the profession,” says Linda Rodriguez, CPO, AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center (PRC) chair.

Take advantage of paraoptometric certification education resources

Practices also can help ensure their staff have every opportunity for success—and it begins with the CPC Paraoptometric Examination Candidate Handbook. This newly updated manual helps candidates better understand the processes and procedures to become certified, and how to retain certification through renewal. It’s not only required reading prior to applying for and taking certification examinations, but also the handbook is the go-to resource for staff seeking certification.

In addition to the CPC Paraoptometric Examination Candidate Handbook, the AOA PRC offers numerous other educational resources to prepare test-takers as the CPC and PTC have developed new paraoptometric examinations for 2021. Outlines covering the new test content are based on a recent Job Task Analysis survey and are available in the handbook and AOA’s EyeLearn Professional Development Hub (EyeLearn).

Here’s how you can prepare your AOA associate-member staff for each level of certification:

Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) 

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) 

Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT) 

  • Access the CPOA & CPOT Study Bundle, available only in AOA Marketplace.
  • Stay tuned: the Certified Paraoptometric Technician Review Course (CPOT) coming to EyeLearn this August.
  • Stay tuned: Skill Builder: Advanced PDF—narrated webinar coming early-2022.

Certified Paraoptometric Coder (CPOC) 

Additional study resources for the 2021 paraoptometric certification examinations are available for both members and nonmembers.

Remaining 2021 application, testing dates

Administered quarterly during a CPC-established, two-week testing period, paraoptometric certification examinations require an application due by 9 p.m. ET of the application date or the late application (assessed a $50 late fee) date deadlines. 

  • 14-28 exam period
    Application deadline: June 30, 2021
    Late application deadline: July 21, 2021
  • 6-20 exam period
    Application deadline: Sept. 22, 2021
    Late application deadline: Oct. 31, 2021

Candidates may submit an application and payment online through PTC for the certification level they are seeking. Once registered, select a testing center at a Prometric testing site near you.

Please note that the application periods for the August 2021 exam dates have passed. Also, the CPOT written and clinical candidates will be administered during the May and November exam periods only.

Paraoptometric certification renewals are due to the CPC office in St. Louis by Nov. 1, 2021, and those received after the deadline will be assessed as a late fee. Therefore, online submission on or before Oct. 15 is highly recommended. The CPC advises paraoptometrics to check their certificate for the expiration year or the Directory of Certified Paraoptometrics for your renewal year if unsure. All paraoptometric CE must be earned by Oct. 31, 2021, and no extension will be permitted.

Paraoptometrics whose renewal is due in 2021 and who wish to test in November for the next level of certification must submit their renewal to the CPC office in St. Louis for processing no later than Sept. 1, 2021, so that eligibility may be verified by the November application deadline.

Current CPO and CPOA certifications are necessary at the time of testing when attempting the next-level examination (certifications expire on Oct. 31 and must be renewed prior to the November application deadline before eligibility can be verified).

Paraoptometric certification

Learn more about how paraoptometric staff can maintain certification through renewal and ensure their CE requirements are fully achieved.
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