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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.

More information:

Am I Suited For This Job?

Optometrists should be:

  • able to work independently
  • patient
  • 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

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Optometrists,  Career Cruising database (Profile for ‘Optometrist’)

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:

annual salary for optometrists by region

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.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Optometrists,  Career Cruising database (Profile for ‘Optometrist’)

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

optometrists employment outlook

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.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Optometrists, JobBank Canada: Job Market Report

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)


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

Internationally Trained Optometrists:

You are required to successfully complete the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) at the University of Waterloo. For more information see:

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Optometrists

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.

Local Newspapers

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

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.

Volunteering in Health Care Facilities

The following organizations accept volunteers in hospitals, residential care facilities, adult day centres, and other community settings.

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’)

Where Can I Find More Information?