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Occupational Profile

Optometrist

Optometrists examine, assess, measure, diagnose, treat, manage and correct disorders and diseases of the human visual system.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 7 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Eye Doctor, Doctor

NOC & Interest Codes
The Optometrist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Optometrists
NOC code: 3121
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 Oct 12, 2016

In general, optometrists:

  • measure the eye and visual function
  • prescribe and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • diagnose diseases and disorders of vision
  • prescribe medications for the treatment of eye diseases
  • remove non-penetrating foreign bodies (for example, metal) from the eye
  • provide post-operative care for patients after cataract and refractive surgery
  • prescribe eye exercises to achieve accurate and comfortable vision
  • undertake rehabilitative intervention for low vision
  • educate and counsel patients about preventing and treating eye disease, contact lens care, appropriate lighting, sunglasses or tints, and eye safety at home and in the workplace
  • refer patients, when appropriate, to ophthamologists (for example, for cataracts or a detached retina) or family physicians (for example, for headaches that are not eye-related or signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes)
  • treat glaucoma 
  • act as consultants to other health care providers
  • provide teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, school psychologists and other professionals with eye health information related to clients or students.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Optometrists usually work with receptionists, ophthalmic assistants and opticians. Most of their working hours are spent in office environments with artificial lighting.

Optometrists work in a variety of settings. Many are self-employed while others can work in a retail setting. Some work evenings and weekends to accommodate patients. With an established practice, optometrists tend to stay in the same locality for the duration of their careers.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Optometrists need the following characteristics:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • good general health and visual acuity
  • a compassionate and caring manner 
  • the spatial and form perception required to interpret test results and identify visual defects.

They should enjoy operating specialized instruments, working with people and analyzing information to make decisions.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 12, 2016

The minimum education requirement for optometrists is a four year Doctor of Optometry degree. Many applicants for optometry programs have a three or four year Bachelor of Science degree. 

In Canada, two institutions offer four year Doctor of Optometry degree programs:

  • The University of Waterloo in Ontario offers an optometry degree program in English. The entrance requirement is at least three years of a university science program with a competitive average in the following pre-requisites: biology, physics, chemistry, calculus, psychology, English, physiology, introductory ethics, organic chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry and statistics. Courses in human anatomy, embryology, genetics, histology and linear algebra or geometry and trigonometry are recommended. In 2010, there were 350 applicants for 90 spaces in this program.
  • The University of Montreal in Quebec offers an optometry degree program in French. Entrance requirements are similar to those for the University of Waterloo program. 

A number of universities and colleges in Alberta offer Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree programs and courses which will satisfy optometry program entrance requirements. Entrance requirements for B.Sc. programs vary but, in general, include a competitive average in English Language Arts 30-1, Pure Math 30, Biology 30, Chemistry 30 and Physics 30.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 12, 2016

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 and Optometrists Profession Regulation, 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.

Education

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) an approved doctor of optometry degree program, (2) Health Care Practitioner CPR certification and (3) 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 seven years to complete. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACO website or contact the ACO office.

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 Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated optometrists, see Optometrist Registration Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Alberta College of Optometrists
#102, 8407 Argyll Road NW
Edmonton, Alberta 
Canada  T6C 4B2
Phone number: 780-466-5999
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-668-2694
Fax number: 780-466-5969
Website: www.collegeofoptometrists.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Optometrists practice in over 80 communities across Alberta providing opportunities to practice in urban and rural settings.

After graduation, an optometrist may:

  • go directly into private practice by starting up a practice where there is a need for one or by purchasing an established practice.
  • join another practitioner or group of practitioners in a busy practice. (Through this type of association, it may be possible to eventually become a partner or owner, or to obtain sufficient capital to establish one's own practice.)
  • work with an ophthalmologist or a group of physicians in family practice
  • participate in patient-based clinical research.

In addition to offering regular optometric services, optometrists may become involved in areas of public health such as:

  • advising parents about potential eye hazards for children
  • diagnosing perceptual handicaps that hinder learning in school-age children
  • consulting with industrial safety personnel regarding the selection and placement of employees
  • fitting low vision patients whose vision can only be improved through the use of special magnifying devices.

Optometrists may continue their education beyond a Doctor of Optometry degree and move into research, teaching or industrial applications of 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • 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 Oct 12, 2016

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

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
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 12, 2016

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

Alberta College of Optometrists website: collegeofoptometrists.ab.ca

Canadian Association of Optometrists website: www.opto.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 2014. 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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