How to Become an Optometrist
Becoming an optometrist requires dedication and hard work, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Optometrists are eye care professionals who diagnose, manage, and treat a variety of vision problems. To become an optometrist, you must complete a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree program and obtain licensure. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to become an optometrist.
Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to becoming an optometrist is to get a bachelor’s degree. Before you can be accepted into an optometry program, you must have completed undergraduate studies. While there is no specific major required for optometry school, many programs suggest that students pursue a degree in biology, chemistry, physics, or other science-related fields. Additionally, students must also complete courses in math, English, and other humanities.
Step 2: Take the Optometry Admission Test
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a must for those who want to pursue a career in optometry. The exam is designed to assess your knowledge in the areas of natural sciences, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. You can register for the exam through the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.
Step 3: Enroll in an Optometry Program
Once you’ve taken the OAT, you can apply to optometry schools. There are more than 20 accredited programs across the United States. When you apply, you’ll need to provide letters of recommendation and transcripts from your undergraduate studies.
Step 4: Earn Your OD Degree
The length of optometry school varies, but it typically takes four years to earn an OD degree. During your studies, you’ll take courses such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, optics, and clinical practice. You’ll also have supervised clinical training to gain hands-on experience.
Step 5: Complete Additional Licensing Requirements
After you’ve earned your OD degree, you must complete additional licensing requirements to practice as an optometrist. Requirements vary by state, but in most cases, you’ll need to pass a practical and written exam to become licensed. Once you’ve passed the exam, you’ll be able to practice as an optometrist.
Becoming an optometrist is a long process, but for those who are dedicated to helping others improve their vision, it’s well worth the effort. If you’re ready to pursue a career in optometry, start by getting your bachelor’s degree and taking the OAT. From there, you can apply to optometry programs, earn your OD degree, and complete the licensing requirements. Once you have all the necessary credentials, you can begin your career as an optometrist.