Career outlook for optometrist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would examine people’s eyes to check their vision and decide if they need glasses or contact lenses. You’d also look for defects, injuries and ill health.

You would:

  • Test and measure a person’s vision using instruments and traditional tools like reading charts
  • Make a diagnosis and advise what they should do
  • Prescribe, fit and supply glasses or contact lenses
  • Discuss the suitability and shape of frames for glasses

Using your knowledge of eye diseases, if you detect abnormalities - including conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure - you would refer the person to specialists or ophthalmologists (eye surgeons).

You could specialise in a particular area, such as:

  • Working with children (paediatrics)
  • Contact lenses – to advise people about using contact lenses
  • Sports vision - to help sportspeople improve skills like estimating distances or hand-eye co-ordination
  • Low vision – to show people how to use lighting and other aids so they can live with low vision that can’t be corrected with glasses or contact lenses

You’d need to be able to work with precision and understand mathematical and scientific information. It would be important to keep up to date with new techniques and instruments.

Some people may be nervous so you’d need to put them at ease. You may need to carefully and clearly explain the process and instructions, especially with children.

You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on the Optometrist page on the NHSScotland Careers website.

Working conditions


You would usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, which may include some evening shifts. Part-time work is also available.


Your work would mainly take place in a treatment room. If you are based at a hospital, you may be involved in some laboratory work.


You may travel to local health centres and community clinics.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Resilience
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Researching
  • Empathising
  • Social conscience
  • Developing a plan
  • Making decisions
  • Taking responsibility

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You need an honours degree in optometry (SCQF level 10), a Certificate of Clinical Competency and/or registration with the General Optical Council (GOC).

To enter a optometry degree (SCQF level 9/10) at Glasgow Caledonian University requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of five Highers at AABBB.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by the course)
  • Maths (required by the course)
  • Physics (required by the course)
  • Other science subjects
  • Technologies

You will also need

  • To complete paid pre-registration training for one year with a practice under the guidance of a GOC registered optometrist. You need to hold 2:2 honours degree and a valid Certificate of Clinical Competency (awarded at graduation) to commence the pre-registration training.
  • To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland

Helpful to have

Work experience in a related field is useful.