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Careers in optometry

Did you know that...

  • Seeing is such a big part of everyday life that it requires about half of the brain to get involved.
  • You actually only see three colours - red, blue, and green - but by combining these, your eyes can help you to detect approximately 10 million different colour hues.
  • 80% of vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable?

 The world of eyes and vision is a truly amazing one - and those working within it enjoy interesting and rewarding careers.

 There are all sorts of opportunities and roles within optometry - you could be working with the general public in a high street optometrists; carrying out eye examinations, treating eye conditions in a hospital or clinic or carrying out essential research in the university or a laboratory. You could also be involved in developing cutting-edge contact lenses for all kinds of eye conditions, or helping people find the right glasses to make sure that they are living life to the full - and looking good!  If you have the right skills, you could work all over the world and one day you could be running your own business or your department.


Take a closer look at a career in optometry

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who specialise in the eye - one of the body's most complex organs. Optometry is about helping people to see as clearly as possible - using your skills and knowledge to make a real difference to people's lives every day.


What kind of salary and career opportunities can I expect?

A newly qualified optometrist will earn around £25,000 although this will vary from region to region. There are exciting opportunities for those working in high street optometrists who may wish to manage a branch of a national chain, or even own their own practice. There are excellent career paths for those working in clinical roles or in research in the public or private sector.  You may decide that you want to specialise in a certain area such as contact lens practice or move into the academic world, perhaps as a tutor or lecturer.


Is optometry the right career for me?

To enjoy and be successful in any career, you’ll need a mix of specific technical and professional knowledge and skills, certain personality traits and attitudes and to understand your personal likes and dislikes. 

You'll need to understand how scientific theory and methods can be applied in practice - so maths and science are probably your favourite subjects at school - and you are expecting good grades in these in your GCSEs/Intermediate exams and A levels/Highers or Welsh or International Baccalaureate

You'll also need to enjoy learning, as there are always new ideas, regulations and research findings arising in the world of optometry. All registered optometrists are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date by obtaining a set number of CET (continuing education and training) points each year by reading papers, interacting with others and attending workshops and presentations. 

Personality-wise, you are probably someone who pays attention to accuracy and to detail and is well organised and can keep accurate, up-to-date records. You will also enjoy meeting new people of all ages and from all backgrounds, and are a good communicator who can put people at their ease and really listen to what they are saying (and not saying!) 


How do I become an optometrist?

You must successfully complete a degree in Optometry followed by a period of supervised training in the workplace, with a number of assessment and a final practical examination, in order to become a registered optometrist.

 There are nine universities across the UK offering BScs in Optometry and they receive around eight applications for every place available.  They are:

Entry requirements vary from institution to institution but you will usually need to gain high grades (typically As) in three A levels or in your Highers or Baccalaureate, with at least two science subjects. Check with the universities for their exact requirements.  

Most universities hold open days, usually in the spring, where you can find out more about the course and student life.  Once again, check the websites for the latest information.


Useful links

  • For more careers information, as well as intriguing illusions and other vision related activities to try go to - don’t forget to tell your teachers to sign up for a workshop

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  • There's lots of information on the eye, eye health and vision and optometry on - the College's public website

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  • You might also be interested in working as a Dispensing optician - find out more at (the Association of British Dispensing Opticians)

You can also download our helpful careers leaflet:   Careers in optometry - Look to the future


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