A Career in Optometry
The Optometry profession is dedicated to the prevention of blindness and the enhancement of visual function.
Doctors of Optometry are independent, licensed, Primary Eye Care providers who offer a wide range of Vision Care Services. As primary eye care providers, optometrists are an integral part of the health care team and an entry point into the health care system.
Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the eye, as well as diagnose and refer patients to other health care providers for a variety of systemic and neurological conditions that are frequently diagnosed during the primary eye examination.
See the ASCO website (www.opted.org) as a resource for learning more about Optometry as a career choice.
Training and Qualifications
To practice optometry, you must earn a Doctor of Optometry degree (OD) by completing a four-year educational and clinical program in an accredited school of optometry. Acceptance into such programs requires at least three years of pre-optometry coursework at accredited colleges or universities. Many schools, including Berkeley Optometry, require a bachelor's degree. Before practicing optometry, you also must pass written and clinical board examinations in order to obtain your license. See Clinical Training Program for more about Berkeley's requirements for admission, and Taking On The Challenge for information about what we offer at Berkeley Optometry.
The Practice of Optometry
Optometrists hold approximately 35,000 jobs in the U.S. About two-thirds of these are in private practice, although there is a growing trend to join partnerships or group practices. While the majority of optometrists work in general practice, some concentrate in specialty vision care (see the next section, "Growing Demand & Career Choices," and also refer to our page on Primary Care and Optometric Services).
More information on optometry can be found in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (www.bls.gov/oco/ocos073.htm). The Handbook notes that for optometry, "Employment of optometrists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018, in response to the vision care needs of a growing and aging population. Excellent job opportunities are expected over the next decade because there are only 19 schools of optometry in the United States, resulting in a limited number of graduates—about 1,200—each year. This number is not expected to keep pace with demand.... In addition to job growth, the need to replace optometrists who retire will also create many employment opportunities. According to the American Optometric Association, nearly one-quarter of practicing optometrists are approaching retirement age. As they begin to retire, many opportunities will arise, particularly in individual and group practices."
Growing Demand and Career Choices
The demand for vision care services continues to expand and exceed the current resources of the profession. As innovative technologies become available for the diagnosis and treatment of potentially blinding conditions, the need for optometric expertise will be significant, making present and future career prospects for optometrists especially promising. Some of the career choices for optometrists include:
- Private Practice (starting a new practice, acquiring an existing practice, or joining an established group practice, including multidisciplinary medical practices)
- Hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
- Retail Optical Stores
- Industry (including industrial safety programs, insurance companies, and ophthalmic product manufacturers)
- Military and Public Health Service (PHS)
- Academic Institutions (including teaching and research)
- Specialty Vision Care (specialized optometry in private, clinical, or group practices in areas such as primary care optometry, family practice, infant/toddler/child care, elder care, low vision, sports vision, contact lenses, vision therapy, or vision in the workplace)
- Consulting (including working for academic, industrial, or governmental institution
Foresight Pre-Optometry Club
The Foresight Pre-Optometry Club is a community of students who help each other prepare for and learn more about the field of optometry. As a member of the club, you can hear from students currently at Berkeley Optometry as well as from representatives visiting from other schools.
Become a friend on Facebook: facebook.com/berkeley.optometry
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More Admissions Information:
If you have additional questions after reading all the material under the
Admissions Topics, please contact us by filling out the following very brief form:
Admissions and Student Affairs Office (ASAO)
School of Optometry
Berkeley, CA 94720-2020
Tel: (510) 642-9537
Fax: (510) 643-7111