In an economy where jobs are few, unemployment is on the rise and people are constantly left wondering about the future, it came as a pleasant surprise when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics declared that we are set to see a growth of a whopping 27% in the field of optometry when it comes to employment opportunities. This is the growth that is projected to continue from 2014 to 2024.
While an optometrist is not the first thing that comes to mind when someone tells you that they are a doctor, the job opportunities in this field are surely lucrative to those who want a career in medical care.
What does an optometrist do?
In layman’s terms, an optometrist is simply a healthcare professional who helps ensure that your eyes are as healthy as they can be. He’s the person that you go to when you face vision trouble, which he or she then diagnoses and provides a solution for. Their job includes a wide range of activities from prescribing corrective lenses to providing care before and after a surgery.
Why would you want to be an optometrist or ophthalmologist?
First of all, being an optometrist provides for a very rewarding and stimulating career. You not only get to interact with people on a daily basis and you get to solve one of the most crucial problems that we humans face, that of not being able to see clearly.
Besides, the field of optometry is always in a state of evolution and an optometrist finds themselves learning and doing new exciting things that eventually lead to professional development. Needless to say, this provides for excellent income opportunities in addition to those that already exist in the industry.
Benefits of being an optometrist
Consider this, an optometrist in the great state of Texas earns anything between 98,000 to 116,000 dollars on an average a year. And since the opportunities in the field of optometry are destined to increase by leaps and bound, this is a good time to consider a career in optometry.
The best part about this job is that unlike most other health care professionals optometrists do not have to work like a mule and as a result can afford to have a good work life balance. An optometrist in Texas works for 38 hours a week on an average. A whooping 34% of optometrists even work on a part time basis and more often than not, people in this profession work at locations close to their homes.
There is plenty of job security in this profession as being able to see well is one of the basic necessities of us humans. As our world gets more populated and as more and more people approach an old age, eye examinations continue to rise and so does the demands for optometrists.
Besides an optometrist has plenty of options when it comes to the kind of career path that they want to pursue. As an optometrist, you could start your own private practice, be a part of a hospital or even get into the field of education.
The transition between the various sectors of optometry is a smooth process and plenty of people in this profession choose to do more than one thing at any given time, thereby expanding their own income opportunities.
How to get started on the path of becoming an optometrist
As with any medical profession, the path to becoming an optometrist is a long one but once again, it is one that is rewarding in every which way.
To get started, you will obviously need a college degree that involves a minimum of three years of college education. This is considered as preparation for professional degree. While there is no requirement for a specific major that you need to graduate in, you need to have completed coursework in English, physics, biology, physiology and calculus.
This is essentially the basic criterion that you will need to meet before you can take an optometry admission test.
Getting an O.D. degree
Before you get accepted in an optometry program, you need to pass the optometry admission test, the aim of which is to measure your understanding of scientific concepts and get an idea of your general academic ability. Every optometry school in the U.S. requires you to pass this test.
After you pass the test, you start pursuing your Doctor of Optometry degree. This involves four years of classroom and clinical training and includes instructions in lab procedures, advanced physiology, optics lab, biochemistry, geometric & theoretical optics, vision science, applied ocular anatomy and ocular physiology.
For the first two years you’d be dealing a lot more with classwork while the latter two involve lab study and clinical work. Most courses also make their students do rotations at hospitals and eye clinics.
If a student wants, then they can choose to undertake a year long residency in their fifth year of advanced studies. Needless to say, this additional year provides a future optometrist with in depth real life experience in their specialty.
How to become an optometrist in Texas?
To practice any profession in the medical field you need a license and optometry is no different. The basic requirement of course, is an accredited O.D. degree and passing the national boards in optometry exams.
At times, different states might have different requirements when it comes to obtaining a license. In the state of Texas, you can apply for an optometry license even if you are a last semester student in any of the accredited optometry schools in the U.S. or Canada. You do however; need a letter from the Dean of the said institution stating that you are in good standing with them.
Or you can apply when you pass the part III of the NBOE exam. After that you need to take a jurisprudence exam, passing which, you will successfully be able to practice as an optometrist.
The hard work however is worth it all, as the rewards are not one but many. Good luck on your journey to becoming an optometrist.