Testing 1, 2, 3 … paraoptometric exam handbook, resources for certification testing

July 20, 2023
Staff interested in preparing for their paraoptometric certification can access an updated paraoptometric examination candidate handbook.
Certification and Renewal graphic

Having cutting-edge professional knowledge and expertise is critical to set the professional and the practice apart in this highly competitive marketplace—especially with an increasing demand for primary eye health care services delivered by optometry. 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. That is why paraoptometric certification is a vital asset that promotes a skilled, cohesive care team in which a successful practice can be built around for years to come.

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.

“Obtaining your paraoptometric certification is an invaluable step toward professional growth and excellence in the field of optometry. The paraoptometric certification not only enhances your career prospects but also deepens your understanding of ocular health, diagnostic procedures and patient management. It demonstrates your dedication to staying current with industry advancements, ensuring that you offer the highest standard of care to every individual who walks through your door,” says the AOA's 2023 Paraoptometric of the Year, Brandy Yeack, CPOA.

Take advantage of paraoptometric certification education resources

Practices also can help ensure their staff have every opportunity for success—and it begins with the 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 the most recent handbook, there are now expanded outlines for the CPO, CPOA and CPOT exams included.

In addition to the Paraoptometric Examination Candidate Handbook, the AOA's Education Center offers numerous resources developed by doctors and paras who are part of the Paraoptometric Resource Committee & Education Center Committee. Outlines covering the new test content are based on a 2021 Job Task Analysis survey and are available in the handbook and on the AOA’s EyeLearn Professional Development Hub.

A remote proctored testing (RPT) option has been added for paras to take their certification exams from a remote location instead of having to travel to a prescribed testing center. The RPT option will be offered for the first time for the August exam cycle. Those interested in taking the remote exam can select this testing choice during the registration process. To test remotely, registrants must meet the technical requirements as indicated in the handbook and referenced on the website.

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

Certification programs

Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) 

Entry level

  • A CPO is a person who has attained national recognition via certification by demonstrating an understanding of the concepts used in optometric care (requires CPO Attestation Form).

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)

Intermediate level

  • A CPOA is a person who has attained national recognition via certification by demonstrating the ability to apply the concepts used in optometric care.

Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT)

Advanced level

  • A CPOT is a person who has attained national recognition via certification by demonstrating the ability to understand, apply and interrelate the concepts used in optometric care.

Certified Paraoptometric Coder (CPOC) 

Specialty level

  • A CPOC is a person who has attained national recognition via certification by demonstrating proficiency, expertise and validating superior knowledge in an optometric coding environment.

Additional study resources for the 2023 paraoptometric certification examinations are available for both members and nonmembers, as well as a “Know Before You Go” video and preparedness document.

Paraoptometric certification & renewal

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

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