Steps to Become An Optometrist

Doctors who examine, diagnose and treat issues with the eye and other parts of the visual system are called Optometrists. They also write prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses and medications as required.

What Does an Optometrist Do?

According to the data gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019, Optometrists are supposed to carry out duties such as,

  • Performing and analyzing vision tests
  • Diagnosing all sorts of vision problems
  • Prescribing required visual aids such as eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Performing surgical procedures as and when needed
  • Providing both, pre and postoperative care to the surgical patients and so on

Steps to Become an Optometrist in the US

If you want to work as an Optometrist in the US, you must complete all educational and licensure requirements. A complete step by step guide of these requirements is as follows. It will help you get started.

Step-1: Bachelor’s Degree

Completing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences or relevant courses helps later in Optometry school. For example, a 4-year degree in pre-medical courses or biology etc. would be most relevant.

Step-2: Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

Without passing the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), you would not be able to enroll in the doctoral degree in this subject. It is a computerized standard test that assesses your knowledge of science, English, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. You would be required to submit your OAT score at the time of application to the Optometry School.

Step-3: Doctor of Optometry

There are many institutions in the US that offer a Doctor of Optometry like, the Indiana University, and the Pacific University. This degree may take 4 years or more to complete and is the least amount of education you need to practice in this field. The curriculum of this doctoral degree varies for each university. However, it typically includes subjects such as,

  • Visual Science
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Diagnosis & Treatment of Eye Diseases or Disorders
  • Optics

Step-4: The National Board of Examiners-Optometry Exam

After successfully completing the Doctor of Optometry, you must pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry Exam to be eligible for a licensure. In addition to passing this exam, some states require an additional clinical exam, while others may require you to pass a law exam.

Step-5: Licensure

If you want to work as an Optometrist in the US, you must acquire a licensure to practice since it is mandatory across the country. However, the requirements of becoming licensed vary from one state to another. In order to obtain a license, all prospective candidates are required to,

  • Successfully complete an accredited doctoral degree in Optometry
  • Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam
  • Clear any additional tests required by the state

In addition to that, Optometrists are required to periodically obtain continuing education classes to keep their license valid and up to date. Many Optometrists choose to become certified by the American Board of Optometry to enhance their career output.

How Much Can I Earn as an Optometrist in the US?

According to the data reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019, the Optometrists employed in the US earned an annual mean salary of $122,980 which approx. amounts to $59.12 mean wage an hour.

In addition to that, BLS listed California as the state with the highest employment level (4,270) whereas, North Dakota was named as the top paying state with an annual mean salary of $174,290 in 2019. Furthermore, BLS predicted a 10% employment growth for this career between 2018-2028.

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