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Updated

Optometrist

Optometrists assess, diagnose, treat, and correct disorders and diseases of the human eye.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 7 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 1,500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Doctor, Eye Doctor

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Optometrists (3121) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Optometrists (D021) 
  • 2011 NOC: Optometrists (3121) 
Interest Codes
The Optometrist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Optometrists
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating specialized instruments such as ophthalmoscopes and biomicroscopes to conduct eye examinations

SOCIAL

Interest in speaking to educate and counsel patients on contact lens use and care, visual hygiene, lighting arrangements, working distance and other safety factors

DIRECTIVE

Interest in analyzing data collected from eye examinations to determine the type of prescription required, and to refer patients to ophthalmologists and other physicians and surgeons for treatment of ocular or other diseases or conditions

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

In general, optometrists:

  • measure patients’ eyes and vision
  • prescribe and supply eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • diagnose eye diseases and vision disorders
  • prescribe medications to treat eye diseases
  • remove non-penetrating foreign bodies (such as metal) from the eye
  • provide care after surgery (such as cataract and refractive surgery)
  • prescribe eye exercises (to achieve accurate and comfortable vision)
  • correct low vision
  • educate patients (about preventing and treating eye disease, contact lens care, good lighting, sunglasses or tints, and eye safety at home and work)
  • refer patients to ophthalmologists (such as for cataracts or a detached retina)
  • refer patients to family doctors (for signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, or headaches that are not related to vision)
  • treat glaucoma
  • act as consultants to other health care providers
  • share patients’ eye health information with other professionals (such as teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and school psychologists) as needed.

Optometrists may also:

  • advise parents about potential eye hazards
  • diagnose problems related to vision that hinder children’s learning
  • consult with industrial safety personnel on selecting and placing employees
  • treat low-vision patients using special magnifying devices.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Optometrists work in a variety of settings. They may work in rural or urban areas. Many are self-employed and work in offices. Others work in shops. Some work evenings and weekends. Optometrists with established practices tend to stay at the same location throughout their careers.

They most often work with receptionists, ophthalmic assistants, and opticians. They spend most of their working hours in artificial lighting.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Optometrists need to possess:

  • speaking and listening skills
  • people skills
  • good general health and sharp vision
  • a caring manner
  • spatial and form perception (to interpret test results and identify visual defects).

They should enjoy:

  • using specialized instruments
  • working with people
  • studying information to make decisions.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

The minimum requirement for optometrists is a 4-year doctor of optometry degree. Many applicants for optometry programs have a 3- or 4-year bachelor’s degree in science.

Several universities and colleges in Alberta offer bachelor of science (B.Sc.) degree programs and courses that will satisfy optometry program entrance requirements.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

University of Waterloo - School of Optometry


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

The optometry degree program is also offered in French at the University of Montreal in Quebec.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Optometrist

Optometrists examine, assess, measure and diagnose disorders and diseases of the human visual system, the eye and its associated structures; provide and prescribe treatment, management and correction; act as consultants to other health care providers; and conduct research and promote education in the visual sciences.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act [pdf] and Optometrists Profession Regulation [pdf], registration with the Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO) is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members who are authorized by the College perform restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves Optometrists.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of:

  • an approved doctor of optometry degree program
  • Health Care Practitioner CPR certification
  • approved examinations.

Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. The required academic training usually takes at least 7 years to complete. For detailed official information about registration requirements, contact the ACO.

Working in Alberta

Optometrists who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered optometrists in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the ACO.

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated optometrists, see Optometrist Registration Process [pdf] on the Opportunity Alberta website.

Contact Details

Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO)
#102, 8407 Argyll Road NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T6C 4B2
Canada  

Call: 780-466-5999
Toll-free: 1-800-668-2694
Fax: 780-466-5969
Website: www.collegeofoptometrists.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

After graduation, an optometrist may:

  • go into private practice (by starting a new practice or buying an established one)
  • join another optometrist or group of optometrists in a busy practice
  • work with an ophthalmologist or a group of physicians in family practice
  • take part in clinical research.

If they have joined a practice, they may become a partner or owner. They may save enough funds to set up their own practice. Optometrists who continue their education can move into research or teaching roles. They may also work in vision science or the biomedical sciences.

In Alberta, 93% of people employed as optometrists work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Income levels for optometrists in partnerships or group practices increase every year after graduation. Income levels for those employed by others remain quite flat.

According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Optometrist occupational group earned on average a top wage of $51.43 an hour. The overall average wage was $46.11 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta Association of Optometrists website: www.optometrists.ab.ca

Alberta College of Optometrists website: collegeofoptometrists.ab.ca

Canadian Association of Optometrists website: opto.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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