There are many reasons to opt for a career in optometry. Optometry is a very rewarding career and gives people the opportunity to help others. There are lots of opportunities for optometry as the demand for this type of doctor increases in direct proportion to the increase in the aging population. The salary level does not hurt either – optometry is one of the highest paying jobs currently.
The first step towards a career in optometry is enrolling into one of the optometry schools out there. There are relatively few optometry schools in the United States, so the application process is particularly rigorous and competitive. It is a must to study at an accredited optometry school and there are currently about 20 accredited schools in the United States. California has the largest number of optometry schools with 3 schools, followed by Texas with 2 optometry schools. The other states such as New York, Florida, Missouri, Ohio and the rest boast only one school each.
Optometry school requirements may vary from school to school but there are certain requirements that they all have in common. Optometry is a post-graduate degree in most cases so most optometry schools will require applicants to possess a relevant bachelor’s degree. Schools that do not require a bachelor’s degree will want a student to have studied at a program before applying for an optometry program for at least 3 years. An applicant is also required to have studies relevant subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English and Social Sciences. It is a good idea to get in touch with the school of your choice to find out their specific optometry school requirements.
Application for optometry school has been centralized and is handled by Optometry’s Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS). Application period opens in July each year. Due to the stiff competition for spots in optometry schools, it is often advisable to apply well within the stipulated period. Applicants are required to sit and pass the OAT (Optometry Admission Test) which tests academic aptitude. A good knowledge of the sciences is also crucial to passing the test.
The optometry degree is a four year program. Tuition for the program will vary depending on the school but it will range from $11,000 a year up to $30,000 a year. Fees for out-of- state students are usually higher. The cost may seem a tad steep but compared to what qualified optometrists earn, well worth it. Students who cannot afford the fees can apply for student loans.