Career outlook for orthoptist

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "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 treat people who have problems with their eyes due to a condition, illness or injury. You’d do tests to find the problem and decide on the best way to treat it.

You’d help people of all ages with conditions that affect their eye muscles, connected nerves, eye movement and vision. Using specialist equipment you would examine their vision and how their eyes work.

A lot of the patients you see would have:

  • A squint (strabismus)
  • Reduced or double vision
  • A ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia)
  • A disorder due to injury or disease

Other patients could have vision problems as a result of:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • A stroke
  • Retinal disease
  • Neurological disorders

Patients would be referred to you from the eye casualty and neurology departments of hospitals, GPs and health visitors.

You would also do vision tests with children in schools and community centres.

You’d recommend treatments such as:

  • Using an eye patch
  • Doing regular eye exercises
  • Contact lenses for children including teaching parents how to insert and remove them
  • Low vision aids
  • Surgery

Sometime you’d refer patients to a different specialist, for example, when you find that a problem is caused by another condition like a brain tumour.

Having problems with their eyes will be very worrying for people and sometimes they might be distressed. You’d need to explain the issues to them patiently. They might also feel that a treatment does not help and so you’d need to encourage them to keep going with it.

It would be important to keep accurate patient records including details of the diagnosis, treatment and progress.

You are likely to work in a team alongside other healthcare professionals, including ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), optometrists - who prescribe and dispense glasses and lenses - and vision scientists.

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

Working conditions


You would usually work 37.5 hours a week over five days. Flexible working patterns, part-time hours and job sharing may also be available.


You would see patients in a variety of settings including an examination room in a hospital ophthalmic department, on hospital wards or in outpatient clinics. You could also be based in the community, working in a health centre, day nursery, special school, school clinic or mobile clinic. You may be able to combine hospital and community work.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Resilience
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • 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 orthoptics (SCQF level 10), a Certificate of Clinical Competency and to register with the General Optical Council (GOC).

Entry requirements are five Highers (SCQF level 6) at BBBBC including English, Maths and two science subjects plus English and Physics at Standard grade Credit level 1 or National 5 (SCQF level 5)at B. Higher Biology or Human Biology preferred. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by the course)
  • Maths (required by the course)
  • Physics (required by the course)
  • Biology
  • Human biology,
  • Other science subjects
  • Other technologies subjects such as ICT
  • Care

You will also need

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.