An optometrist is trained to examine a patient's eyes, diagnose visual problems and prescribe the proper treatment and/or corrective lenses to solve the problem. Here's how to become an optometrist:
- Earn a bachelor's degree at an accredited college or university.
- Take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), which is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). This test is required by all optometry schools in the United States as well as by one optometry school in Canada.
- Register to study at one of the optometry schools approved by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE). There are 20 such schools in the United States and Puerto Rico, and two in Canada. You can contact the American Optometric Association or the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry for a list of approved schools (source: Optometry Schools]. The full course takes four years, after which you graduate with a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree.
- Find volunteer or temporary work while taking the course. This will help you gain experience in the field.
- Obtain the necessary licenses. After graduating, take the National Board of Optometry exam and the state licensing exams for the states where you will be practicing. You cannot practice optometry until you are fully licensed [source: Optometry Licenses].
- Seek employment at a reputable clinic or optometry store. Eventually you may consider starting your own business.
- Take continuing education courses to keep yourself abreast of the latest developments in optometry. These courses are required in the United States in order to renew your license.