Becoming an Optometrist
Becoming an Optometrist
Optometrists require seven to eight years of post-secondary education to obtain their professional designation, Doctor of Optometry (OD).
Educational requirements typically include:
- A minimum of three years of undergraduate education*, preferably in the sciences;
* In Québec two years of CEGEP is accepted at the undergraduate level.
- A four or five year university program in optometry, accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education;
- An increasing number of optometrists choose to do an additional year of residency training upon completion of their Doctor of Optometry degree;
- Upon completion of the course in optometry, the graduate is required to satisfy provincial board requirements in the province or territory in which they intend to practice. This process also includes a national examination administered by the Canadian Examiners in Optometry. Licensure by the provincial or territorial governing body is required. These requirements ensure the public receives the highest standards of optometric care.
There are two schools of optometry located in Canada and 20 in the United States that are accredited and recognized in Canada.
- University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON
- If you are considering optometry as a career visit the UW Pre-optometry Facebook page.
- Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC
- Ferris State College – Michigan College of Optometry, Big Rapids, MI
- Illinois College, Chicago, IL
- Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
- InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón, PR
- Midwestern University – Arizona College of Optometry, Glendale, AZ
- New England College of Optometry, Boston, MA
- Northeastern State University – College of Optometry, Tahlequah, OK
- NOVA Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale-Davie, FL
- Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
- Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR
- Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, Elkins Park, PA
- Southern California College of Optometry, Fullerton, CA
- Southern College, Memphis, TN
- State University of New York College of Optometry, New York, NY
- University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AB
- University of California – Berkeley Optometry, Berkley, CA
- University of Houston – Optometry, Houston, TX
- University of the Incarnate Word – Rosenberg School of Optomtery, San Antonio, TX
- University of Missouri-St. Louis – College of Optometry, St. Louis, MO
- Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA
Upon graduation most optometrists are employed as associates in an existing practice before buying in as partners, buying another practice or setting up a new practice. Established optometrists usually work in private practice and own or co-own their practices. They may also own or work from more than one location, known as “satellite” offices. A recent CAO survey revealed the following characteristics:
- Optometric practices in Canada average 2.3 optometrists per practice;
- Typically an average optometric practice handles about 2,800 patient consultations per year;
- In 1995, the average optometrist spent 41 hours a week in practice, with 35 hours devoted to patients and the balance to practice management.
The cost of studying optometry in Canada ranges from $60,000 – $70,000 which may be financed by Canada Student Loans http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/learning/canada_student_loan/index.shtml and/or personal bank loans. Costs for attending schools in the United States are significantly higher, ranging from $175,000 – $200,000.
Start-Up Costs & Overhead Costs
To set-up a new practice, start-up costs include: capital costs for equipment and leasehold improvements.
The majority of overhead costs arise from the inventory of lenses, frames, contact lenses and lens solutions.
Optometrists are paid at the time services are provided. An optometrist’s earnings are determined by several factors including: coverage under provincial medical programs, fee schedules, hours worked, practice location, services provided and patient population.
Nova Scotia Association of Optometrists