Becoming A Doctor of Optometry

Doctors of  optometry 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; Please NOTE:  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.



Upon graduation optometrists work 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.

Useful Information:

Education Costs: The cost of studying optometry in Canada ranges from $60,000 – $70,000 which may be financed by Canada Student Loans 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.
Revenue Sources: 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.