Optometry could be a rewarding career, if one likes caring for people. To further the optometrist career, one must attend an optometrist school. This is one of the top income earning professions. According to the Jobs Rated Almanac, optometry ranks at the 40th place out of nearly 250 jobs. The ranking is based on six key factors such as income, environment, employment growth, security, physical demands and stress.
There are not many optometrist colleges and therefore, quite competitive to get into. In the US and Canada, there are a few accredited colleges and Puerto Rico has one where a doctorate in optometry could be obtained. The schools have their own criteria for admission, fees and the number of applicants accepted. Selecting an optometric school relies on several factors such as size, cost, location and some more. For specific requirements of all the colleges, check out the pages of ASCO, or the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.
Getting into optometrist schools requires plenty of preparations. Most colleges require the candidate to complete an undergraduate degree before they can be accepted. However, a few of the schools may allow candidates who have completed all the class requirements to apply as well. Individual colleges have their own requirements. However, the undergraduate students generally taken in may include microbiology, biology, organic chemistry, chemistry, physiology, human anatomy, calculus, physics, social sciences, English and others. Select the one you would like to attend and check its specific requirements.
The application process and admission to schools are specific to each, with each having its own guideline. Getting in is very competitive and the schools are extremely selective. Their requirements vary, and you should carefully prepare all material for the school you wish to attend. Among the material needed, generally required are letters of recommendation, transcripts of your undergraduate work, experience or extensive knowledge in the field. Some colleges may also require a personal essay on why you want to be an optometrist. One requirement is a key factor required by all schools, the Optometry Aptitude Test or the OAT.
Individual optometrist colleges have their own deadlines for submitting the applications and other required materials. For proper processing, it is better to collect all materials required and send it in early. You have to register for an OAT test, which has its own deadline. Once all applications and materials have been received, and the OAT test completed, the school selects and invites applicants for interviews. The interviews are usually with the staff and other senior students.
Applicants are then judged on several factors such as the OAT scores, leadership skills, GPA, extra-curricular skills, and many more. The cost, housing and curriculum vary and are dependent on the school you are interested to attend. Therefore, you may have to check each of the schools thoroughly and select the one that fits your requirement best.
For becoming an optometrist, you must obtain the doctor of optometry degree, which is also called OD. This is achieved by completing the 4-year program from a university or college accredited by ACOE or Accreditation Council on Optometric Education. You will have to pass the Optometry exams conducted by the National Board Examinations. Only a selected number of candidates are taken in each year. The minimum amount of time taken to finish being seven years, of which, three years are for the undergraduate education and the remaining four for the school.
The cost of the program for doctor of optometry varies among the school. This is mainly because of differences in clinical, cost per credit and other fees. The colleges also charge fees for several other services such as equipment and supplies, clinical and labs, health insurance and others. When you add up everything, including supplies, books, living expenses, tuition, and fees, the amount can be quite big. Therefore, it is right to say optometry schools are quite expensive.
OptomCAS or Optometry’s Centralized Application Service has now made it easy to apply to all optometric colleges. Potential students can now make a centralized web-based application with all the information, including letters of recommendation, college transcripts, and honors. The OptomCAS will send their applications to multiple optometric schools on behalf of the candidates. This removes the necessity for multiple applications, letters and transcripts. However, candidates will still have to follow individual requirements. Once the optometric training program is completed, the optometrist becomes licensed and is able to start their career. They may also opt for a residency for additional training. There are several different specialty trainings available in any optometrist school.