Optometrists (NOC 3121) may also be called:
- OD (Doctor of Optometry)
What Would I Do?
Optometrists examine eyes, prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. Duties may include:
- examine patients’ eyes, conduct tests and use ophthalmoscopes, biomicroscopes and other specialized instruments to assess visual health
- prescribe treatment (excluding surgery) to maintain, improve and correct vision and other visual disorders
- prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses
- advise patients on contact lens use and care, visual hygiene, preventive care and maintenance, lighting arrangements, working distances and safety factors
- refer patients to ophthalmologists or other physicians and surgeons for treatment of optical or other diseases or conditions
- some optometrists may specialize in fitting visual aids for people who are partially blind, fitting contact lenses or correcting special vision problems.
Am I Suited For This Job?
Optometrists should be:
- able to work independently
- good with people
they should have:
- good communication skills
- some business training
Optometrists work in offices and treatment rooms; some may work evenings and weekends
What Are The Wages And Benefits?
WorkBC reports that in British Columbia the median annual salary for Optometrists is approximately $78,579.
JobBank Canada lists annual salaries for BC’s regions where Optometrists can expect to make:
Table from Job Bank Canada Wage Report
Salaried optometrists generally receive benefits, including paid sick days and vacation time, dental coverage, and a pension plan. Self-employed optometrists must provide their own benefits.
What Is The Job Outlook In BC?
WorkBC provides regional employment outlooks for two regions:
- Vancouver: projecting 2.4% average annual employment growth for 2015-2025 with 170 job openings
- Thompson Okanagan: projecting 1.7% average annual employment growth for 2015-2025 with 60 job openings
JobBank Canada reports that for the 2016-2018 period, the employment outlook is expected to be good for Optometrists (NOC 3121) in British Columbia.
Employment growth is expected to be strong although a small number of people are expected to retire. This occupation has recently experienced low levels of unemployment.
How Do I Become an Optometrist?
- three years* of university undergraduate studies in sciences and mathematics (*however, most applicants for optometry programs hold a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree)
- four-year university program in optometry — only two programs in Canada:
Registration / Licensing:
In B.C. the College of Optometrists of British Columbia guides and regulates all optometrists registered in British Columbia. To be licensed to practise optometry, the optometrist must complete his/her education and specialized training at a university based school of optometry, successfully pass a national exam (the ‘jurisprudence examination’) and become registered [“licensed”] with the College of Optometrists of BC
- College of Optometrists of BC
what is an optometrist
registration application information
Internationally Trained Optometrists:
You are required to successfully complete the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) at the University of Waterloo. For more information see:
How Do I Find A Job?
Where would I work?
- work in private practice, clinics and community health centres
- department or optical stores, hospitals, or manufacturers of safety glasses
- may work in partnerships with other optometrists or ophthalmologists
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.
Finding Advertised Jobs
Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.
You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and, in The Province on Sundays.
Online Job Postings
- BC Doctors of Optometry, ‘Optomart’
Doctors of Optometry seeking employment in British Columbia
Provides Practice Opportunities within Lower Mainland and outside Lower Mainland
Optometrist jobs in British Columbia
Eye Optometry jobs in British Columbia
Finding “Hidden Jobs”
Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below will help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.
Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers
You can use directories to produce lists of employers who are in this industry. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.
- Reference Canada
Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
In the top search box enter “optometrist” and click LOOKUP.
Select the appropriate headings, e.g. “optometrists OD”.
Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).
Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies
Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.
Networking and the Hidden Job Market:
When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.
- Third World Eye Society Canada – TWECS
a local BC chapter of VOSH – Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity
primarily sponsors eye health care projects outside Canada
local individuals needed to recycle eyeglasses
Volunteering in Health Care Facilities
The following organizations accept volunteers in hospitals, residential care facilities, adult day centres, and other community settings.
- Fraser Health Authority
(services and information for pregnant women)
For additional tips see:
Applying for a Job
In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your experience. Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
For more information see:
Where Can This Job Lead?
With experience, optometrists may progress to Associate Optometrist and potentially to owner of an optometric practice.
Source: Career Cruising database (Profile for ‘Optometrist’)