National Credential
Credential: Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)  GI Bill resource
Credentialing Agency: American Optometric Association - Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (AOA-CPC)

The Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) is a mid-level credential. This certification validates individual's ability to apply the concepts used in optometric care. The CPOA may perform technical duties such as taking detailed patient histories, measuring visual acuity, measuring the curvature of the cornea (Keratometry), glaucoma screening; blood pressure testing, and measuring the distance between the pupils of the eye under supervision of an optometrist. Applicants must meet any one of the several eligibility options and pass an exam. The examination consists of questions related to practice management, basic and special procedures, ophthalmic optics and dispensing, refractive status of the eye, and basic ocular anatomy and physiology.

More information can be found on the certifying agency's website.

Renewal Period: 3 years

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)

The following Army Occupations provide training and/or experience that contributes to attaining this credential:

Personnel Category Occupation Occupation Type Related As Promotion Points Skill Level Star Proponent Funded Gap Analysis
Enlisted 68Y Eye Specialist MOS most  Promotion Points: This certification has been approved for promotion points. Click for more information. II      

Army Table Legend


Related As

The military occupations shown in this table are related to this credential in one of four ways: Most, Some, or Other.

Most: This credential is directly related to most of the major duties associated with the military occupation (at least 80%). Note that the credential may require additional education, training or experience before you are eligible for it.

Some: This credential is related to some tasks associated with the duties of the military occupation (related 80% to at least one or more critical tasks but less than 80% of all of the entire military occupation). Note that the credential may require additional education, training or experience before you are eligible for it.

Other: This credential is related to this military occupation, but is more advanced or specialized and therefore will likely require additional education, training, or experience.

Promotion Points Promotion Points icon

This credential has been approved for promotion points for this MOS towards promotion to Sergeant and Staff Sergeant. Clicking the Promotion Points icon will open a link to the promotion points fact sheet.

Skill Level Designation

Skill Level I: This skill level consists of all Soldiers in the ranks of Private (pay grade E-1) up to Specialist (pay grade E-4). Time in Service (TIS) is generally between initial entry and four Years of Service (YOS). This skill level is Entry-level positions requiring performance of tasks under direct supervision.

Institutional training:

  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level I
  • Basic Leader Course (BLC)

Skill Level II: This skill level is obtained when promoted to Sergeant (paygrade E-5). TIS is generally between 4-8 YOS. Positions requiring performance of more difficult tasks under general supervision; and in some instances, involving supervision of Soldiers in SL1.

Institutional training:

  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level II
  • Advance Leader Course (ALC)

Skill Level III: This skill level is obtained when promoted to Staff Sergeant (paygrade E-6). TIS is generally between 8-12 YOS. Positions requiring performance of still more difficult tasks and involving first line supervision of Soldiers in SL1 & SL2.

Institutional training:

  • Senior Leader Course (SLC)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level III

Skill level IV: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Sergeant First Class (paygrade E-7). TIS is generally between 12-18 YOS. Positions requiring relatively detailed knowledge of all tasks specified for a given MOS, normally involving first-line supervision of Soldiers in SLs 1, 2, and 3, and involving managerial duties.

Institutional training:

  • Master Leader Course (MLC)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level IV
  • Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education (SEJPME) I Course

Skill level V: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant (paygrade E-8). TIS is generally between 18-22 YOS. Positions requiring direct and indirect leadership roles with expertise in company and battalion-level operations and competency across a given CMF, serving as members of a staff at every level in the Army, with a full understanding of the allocation of resources and their utilization in order to accomplish Army functions and missions.

Institutional training:

  • United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level V

Skill level VI: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Sergeants Major (paygrade E-9). TIS is generally between 22-30 YOS. Positions requiring organizational leadership roles with multi-dimensional expertise in units and teams on division, corps, and Army staffs, integrated with Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) partners with a full understanding of the Force Generation process, operations at all echelons, and how the Army runs.

Star Credential Star icon

Star credentials are MOS enhancing, as designated by the Proponent. MOS enhancing credentials are directly related to an MOS or ASI, are taught either partially or completely as part of a Program of Instruction (POI), and improve the MOS technical proficiency.

Proponent Funded Funded icon

This icon indicates credentials which Soldiers may have funded through their MOS proponent. Some proponents offer credentialing opportunities in conjunction with military training and/or as part of MOS development beyond the training base.

Gap Analysis Has Analysis icon

A detailed analysis comparing the credential requirements to the military occupation has been completed. Click on the gap analysis icon to view the analysis page.

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)

Eligibility Requirements ()

Note: This credential may have multiple options for becoming eligible. Listed below are the minimum requirements based on the minimum degree required. To view other options, see the Eligibility tab.

  • Credential Prerequisite
  • Experience: 6 months
  • Education
  • Training
  • Membership
  • Other
  • Fee

Exam Requirements ()

  • Written Exam
  • Oral Exam
  • Practical Exam
  • Performance Assessment

Renewal Period: 3 years

  • Continuing Education
  • Exam
  • Continuing Education OR Exam
  • Fee
  • Other

American Optometric Association - Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (AOA-CPC)
243 North Lindbergh Blvd
St Louis, MO  63141
Phone: (800) 365-2219
Fax: (314) 991-4101
Contact Page

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)

Option 1: Applicants must have earned the CPO title, hold a current CPO designation, and verify a minimum of six months additional employment in the eye care field as a Certified Paraoptometric (CPO).

Option 2:

Applicants must be graduates or students currently enrolled and in good standing in their last semester of study at an approved optometric assistant program

Note: Tri-Service Optician School (TOPS) program has been approved by Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC). 

Option 3:

Aplicants  must have three (3) years or more work experience in the eye care field; employer must attest to this experience by completing the CPOA Reference Form

The American Optometric Association - Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (AOA-CPC) has approved Tri-Service Optician School (TOPS) program as a CPC-approved paraoptometric assistant program. Navy, Army and Air Force Opticians who have attended the Tri-Service Optician School after August 5, 2015 are eligible to bypass the first level and sit directly for the Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) exam. For additional details, see the AOA-CPC Approval Letter.

Note: This opportunity is extended to graduates of the program for period of three years following completion of their program. During this time, graduates may register as "students" in order to receive the discounted student examination fees.

The Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) credential has the following other requirements:

  • Paraoptometric Assistants who have been certified by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification are expected to abide by the APO-CPC Code of Conduct Code of Conduct.

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)

  • Office Operations (13%)
    • Practice Management
    • Records Management
    • Telephone Techniques
    • Recall
    • Office Finances
    • Professional Issues
    • Health Information Technology
  • Ophthalmic Optics and Dispensing (20%)
    • Prescriptions
    • Lenses
    • Frame Selection
    • Adjustment and Dispensing
  • Testing and Procedures (20%)
    • Purpose and Preliminary Testing
    • Pupillary Responses
    • Case History
    • Visual Acuity
    • Color Vision
    • Stereo Acuity
    • Examination Instrumentation
  • Special Procedures (17%)
    • Contact Lenses
    • Tonometry
    • Visual Fields
    • Sphygmomanometry
    • First Aid/CPR/Emergencies
    • Vision Rehabilitation
    • Surgery
  • Refractive Status of the Eye and Binocularity (13%)
    • Refractive Errors
    • Refractive Conditions
    • Eye Movements
  • Basic Ocular Anatomy and Physiology (17%)
    • General Anatomy and Physiology
    • Basic Functions of Anatomical Structures
    • Common Pathological and Functional Disorders
    • Basic Ocular Pharmacology

There are a number of resources available to help you prepare for the Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) examination:

An additional resource is Safari Books Online, a searchable digital library that provides online access to thousands of books, training videos and conference sessions. See the Educational Resources page here on COOL to learn how to get free access.

Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)

Renewal Period: 3 years

The Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) credential has the following recertification information:

AOA-CPC offers two options for renewal:
  • Take an exam for the next higher level of certification or;
  • earn 18 continuing education units.

Additional information maybe found on the AOA-CPC recertification page.