How to Become an Optometrist? – Overview
How to become an Optometrist is a valid question to ask when looking at potential career options. While having an interest in biology is a must for all health practitioners, selecting the niche can become challenging.
An Optometrist is a primary health care specialist who specializes in examining eyes. The responsibilities include finding the defects in vision, ocular disease, abnormalities, signs of injury, and other general health problems.
How to Become an Optometrist – Educational Qualifications
To get the essential license to practice as an Optometrist, there are certain educational qualifications that individuals need to fulfill.
1. College – Bachelor’s Degree
Firstly, you will need a bachelor’s degree that primarily focuses on pre-med or biology sciences.
Certain schools only require three-year post-secondary education with an emphasis on biology or zoology, physics, chemistry, physics, mathematics.
Depending on the college of choice, the pre-requisites for admissions may change. You will have to meet the criteria to be considered for the education. You can find the requirements on the official website.
2. Qualify for Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
Optometrists have to pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Take the test during the undergraduate degree.
You must score passing marks on the standardized test for acceptance in the Optometry program.
The exam helps identify your scientific knowledge and academic abilities.
The four components of the test are:
- Natural Sciences
- Reading comprehension
- Quantitative reasoning
While it is permissible to sit for the exam after one year of undergraduate education, most students wait for at least two years.
The number of attempts available is infinite. However, you have to wait for 90 days before giving the computerized exam again.
3. Optometry School
After the completion of an Optometry degree, you have to pass the four-year Optometry School.
It is a competitive field. Students with high OAT scores, GPA’s and a better grasp of subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics get admission.
The extensive program includes vision sciences, pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, optics, and human anatomy. There is a special focus on diagnosis, treatment, and management of various aspects of vision disorder and eye disease.
The extensive clinical training during the course helps prepare students for real-life work.
Most students opt to complete additional residencies in a specialized field of vision care.
4. Getting the Licensing for Practicing Medicine
To practice in USA states, optometrists need proper licensing.
After graduation from the Optometry school, students have to sit for both clinical and written exams.
These exams are administered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry. Also, some states and regions have their exams for practicing Optometry.
The region can include license renewals that can be yearly for some states.
Check the requirements for practicing Optometry in the region to ensure legal rights.
How to Become an Optometrist – The Importance of the Field
Becoming an optometrist requires due diligence and years of education and practice.
Every healthcare field comes with the satisfaction of helping others.
Optometrists provide vital healthcare services. From helping people see better, to diagnosing and treating ocular disease, you can bring a difference in people’s life.
Career opportunities are abundant for people in the field. Moreover, the high income after completing the course is another factor students consider.
The average salary for optometrists is well above $200,000 for a year. The salary does depend on several factors, including place of practice, organization, experience, and education.
Organizations for Work
A range of industries hires optometrists. Some of the working environment includes
- Private practice
- Public healthcare
- VA medical center
- Research work
Several other settings offer job opportunities to Optometrists.
It is a relatively clean and regular job. There is a lesser chance of working odd hours.
The flexibility at work with relatively fewer hours of work per week makes it an inviting career choice for many.
The field of Optometry is rising in the USA. The demand for the profession is only going up. Hence, it is a lucrative option that will not become redundant anytime soon.
Applying for a Job
Before you start looking for a job as an optometrist, make a detailed CV. It should highlight your experience, expertise, and other proficiency.
Also, prepare well for the interview to bag the job.
With the improvement in technology, optometrists do have to upgrade their skills with time. It is an ever-learning field that offers high rewards and regular hours.
Learning about how to become an optometrist is easy. However, it isn’t an easy business. Whether you want to start a private practice or work with a team, the competitiveness of the field demands persistence.