Why be an Optometrist?
Optometry is a stimulating and rewarding career centred on patient care.
Optometrists are the first port of call for members of the public suffering from vision problems, and provide a vital and increasingly important element within the primary eyecare service in the UK.
Developments in vision care mean that the role of an optometrist is constantly expanding, bringing with it opportunities to specialise and develop your career to suit your particular interests. Listed below are some of the key features:
Interaction with people on a daily basis
One of the highlights of the job is the satisfaction gained from helping people and improving their quality of life. Optometrists in clinical practice get to meet a wide range of interesting people from all walks of life.
Stimulating and challenging
Every patient represents a new challenge. In a single day you may see a patient requiring further investigation and referral for a medical condition, a patient having problems with their contact lenses, a young child requiring assessment of a suspected lazy eye and a patient interested in refractive surgery.
In addition, the field of optometry is constantly evolving with new roles being added, particularly in the field of shared care (with the hospital eye service). It is essential for practitioners to remain up-to-date and qualified optometrists are required to undertake continuous professional development, which can take various forms including course/workshop attendance and online education.
Excellent earning potential
Salaries for optometrists vary depending on the organisation they work for.
Hospital optometrists start on between £25,000-33,500 per annum, rising to around £40,000 per annum for Specialist Optometrists and those with management responsibilities.
The most senior optometry managers and consultants can earn up to £79,000 per annum.
The majority of optometrists are employed by the private sector where pay rates vary depending on the organisation, role and responsibilities. Salaries are, however, broadly in line with NHS rates. Optometrists with their own successful independent practices may earn significantly more.
Good work-life balance and job flexibility
On average, a full-time optometrist works 38 hours a week, although this may well include working some weekends and/or evenings.
Around 34% of optometrists work part-time, a measure of the flexibility of optometry as a career.
A proportion of optometrists choose to work as locums, travelling to a number of different practices and allowing them to vary the days they work. Some optometrists have even been known to locum for part of each year and travel or volunteer abroad the remainder of the year.
Wealth of opportunities
Optometrists can work in a number of different settings including private practice, hospital practice, education and industry.
There is good mobility between sectors, offering even greater variety to those who choose to transfer between sectors or combine a number of different settings at one time. Private practice offers the opportunity to own and run a business, providing an additional dimension.
Advancing age leads to a greater likelihood of requiring a spectacle correction and an increased risk of ocular and systemic disease. The number of eye examinations undertaken continues to rise as the population ages and the demand for optometrists is predicted to grow even further over the next few decades.
Career prospects are excellent and employment rates for our graduates remain close to 100%.