STEM careers in optometry

What is optometry?

It takes a pretty special kind of person to make it as an optometrist

What could be more important than a career looking after people’s eyes?

It’s not surprising that sight is the sense that 84% of people say they fear losing – the world we live in today is fast moving, and the way we all communicate is increasingly visual. Optometrists care for the health of their patients’ eyes, giving advice and prescribing glasses or contact lenses where they’re needed. 

Part of a team of frontline health care experts, you’ll need to keep up with the latest technological and clinical advances and you’ll be able to specialise further in areas that really interest you. So optometry is about much more than prescribing glasses and contact lenses – you’re an expert who can make a real difference to the quality of life of people in the communities you work in. 

So just what does it take to be an optometrist?

Well, you’ll need a strong grounding in science as you’re going to be spending a lot of time getting your head around how the eye and the brain works. Many of the skills you’ll need will come from physics and biology – a love of maths and chemistry will help too.

But if you want to really make a success of being an optometrist, you need to be great with people too. You’ll see patients from all walks of life, and you’ll be responsible for their visual health, so you’ll need to have excellent communications skills and real dedication.

You’ll also need to be very precise in the way you work – attention to detail is critical. And be the kind of person who never wants to stop learning. It’s a sector where exciting advances are being made all the time, so you will need to be on top of everything that’s going on.

Why choose optometry?

Making a difference

As an optometrist, you will make a positive difference to people’s lives every single day. Working in store full time, you will see on average 17 patients a day. That’s 4,000 people a year who will have an improved quality of life, all thanks to you.

Attractive salaries

Once qualified, you can expect to receive an attractive salary from the start. With Specsavers, optometrists can earn between ÂŁ30,000 and ÂŁ50,000 a year (this can be even higher and varies across different geographical locations).

Work/life balance

Whether you see patients in a high street store or in their homes as a domiciliary optometrist, you get to enjoy a great work/life balance which can’t be matched by many other clinical professions. While you are on the front line, dealing with vision loss and minor eye health conditions throughout the day, once you've finished seeing your patients, you’re finished for the day. It’s one of the few careers that allows you to fully embrace your free time without worrying about emails and catching up once at home.

Technology and equipment

Of course, if you’ve ever had your eyes tested, you’ll know that optometrists don’t just get to work with amazing people – they also get to use some pretty exciting technology too. At Specsavers this is a big deal for us – we’re investing a lot of time and money into making sure that we’ve got the very best equipment for our people to use. So, work for us and you’ll have the chance to use the full range of cutting-edge optometry equipment. Including optical coherence tomography (OCT) - hospital-grade technology that can identify eye conditions such as glaucoma years earlier than by traditional methods alone.

We will make you the best you can be

Non-stop learning

Another great aspect of being a qualified optometrist is that the learning never stops – you’re always able to take on new challenges. By studying for a postgraduate qualification you’ll be able to specialise in an area that really interests you – and then pass that expertise straight on to your patients who need it most. At Specsavers we really want our people to support each other in their learning and development. You may want to get involved in our annual professional advancement conference (the PAC), which is a chance to discuss the latest advances and share ideas. You can contribute articles to our online professional journal, ProFile, and help to run training sessions and workshops for local colleagues. There’s also the Specsavers Professional Network on Yammer, a social network where optometrists post cases and learn from the experience and opinions of thousands of their colleagues throughout the UK and Ireland. You may even want to help us inspire the next generation of optometrists, at one of our large national career events.

Run your own business

One of the biggest reasons that many people become optometrists is that it gives you the chance to run your own business. At Specsavers we’ll back you all the way if you show potential for leading others. As a director of one of our stores you’ll have a stake in the business and you’ll get all the help you need from our support offices, giving you the time, space and confidence to concentrate on what you do best.

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