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Optometrist

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

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Optometrists (3121) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Optometrists
2006 NOC : 3121

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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.

Traits & Skills
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
  • Minimum Education 7 years post-secondary

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Optometrist.

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.

In Alberta, the 3121: Optometrists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.5% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 20 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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 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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

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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