What does an optometrist do?

An optometrist's main role is in caring for their clients. They perform eye examinations to identify issues or conditions and then prescribe treatments to address those problems. The treatment could include glasses, vision therapy, optical aids, medicated eye drops or, in serious cases, referral to specialist care. Many optometrists also have a sales role, as a lot of optometrists work out of retail settings. They are also required to keep accurate records of their patients’ prescription and treatment details.

Tasks:

  • Perform eye examinations and diagnoses
  • Prescribe treatment to clients with eye conditions or vision problems
  • Refer clients to specialist care
  • Pre- and post-operative care
  • Maintain client records

What skills do I need to be an optometrist?

Optometrists must have a thorough understanding of eye conditions and treatment options. To be successful, they should be able to work well with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds, have a caring manner and be good verbal and written communicators. Optometrists need to work precisely and have good attention to detail. They should also have well-developed problem solving skills.
Skills/attributes
  • Understanding of vision science, eye conditions and treatment
  • Good people skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication abilities
  • Detail orientated and precise
  • Problem solving abilities

Specialisations

Optometry is a very specialised area of work and therefore there are not a lot of specialisation options available following qualification. Many optometrists do, however, move into full-time sales positions and others become owners or managers of their own practices.

Sales

It is common for optometrists to work in retail settings and over time some decide that they prefer the sales side of the business to the client contact. Sales specialists develop expertise in different brands and styles of glasses, contact lenses and other optical aids to provide advice to customers on what will best fit their needs. They can also provide advice to other optometrists on trends and new developments in visual aids.

Private practice

Optometrists moving into private practice must not only undertake all of the day-to-day tasks of an optometrist, but they must also manage staff and budgets, undertake advertising for their business, ensure all administration tasks are completed, and take responsibility for ensuring their practice is up to date with current developments in the optometry field.

Study pathways for optometrists

An optometrist must have an optometry degree, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. An understanding of the field can be obtained initially, however, through short courses.

Getting Started

Those wishing to work in optometry may find a vocational qualification in allied health services to be a useful entry point.

Skill Building

Optometrists looking to build their customer service skills may consider a Certificate III in Customer Contact.

Professional Development

Optometrists looking to operate their own practice may find value in completing a Diploma of Practice Management qualification in order to gain useful administrative and management skills.

Industry Recognition

Practising optometrists must be registered with the Optometry Board of Australia.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your optometry career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for optometry jobs.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Optometrists are generally paid very well, and strong growth is projected in this field over the next few years. It is a relatively small occupation, however, so job opportunities are limited in some locations.