Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Pro #1 – Low Stress
As an Optometrist, your job is not the focus of your life. You will have enough time for family, and other interests outside of work.
The job is repetitive with few surprises in a stable work environment. Compared to other medical specialities it is a nice lifestyle.
Optometry is frequently on a list of highest paid low stress jobs. While it may not be ‘stressful’ in the traditional sense, the repetitive nature of it and lack of challenge may get to you!
Optometry Pros and Cons: Pro #2 – Work Life Balance
While Optometrists may on occasion have to work long hours, they will not have to do any night shifts or on calls. You will work regular hours and will rarely have to deal with emergencies. They also have the ability to decide how much they take on.
If you work for a private practice your hours can be anything from 3-8 hours a day 5 days a week. Also, your schedule should be consistent and not subject to change.
Compared to other medical jobs, you will have time to spend with your kids or go out for dinner in the evenings. If you are half an hour late for work, it won’t be a big deal.
Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Pro #3 – Chance to Give Back
You will have the chance to help the less fortunate with their sight whether it is through local clinic, or a volunteering trip to a less privileged country. Many charities use optometrists to provide eye care in third world countries.
It is also a very social profession where you get to play a very active part in the local community. You get to spend between 10 and 30 minutes with your patients which helps to form strong and lasting relationships with them.
Optometry Pros and Cons: Pro #4 – Tangible Results
Unlike other medical specialities where you do not see the results of your treatment, optometrists get to see the reaction of their patients when their eyesight is improved immediately. Giving someone the gift of improved sight can be very rewarding. Also, a seemingly innocuous eye exam can find a tumour and save a life.
Sometimes you may have the difficult task of telling a patient they have a life threatening disease or are losing their sight, but the majority of your work will be improving people’s sight. Something as simple as reading glasses can make a world of difference to a patient’s daily life.
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Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Pro #5 – You can Qualify Relatively Quickly
Compared to other medical professions, you can be qualified to practise in approx. 4-5 years. You will need a degree in optometry and one year supervised work placement with a registered optometrist.
Optometry Pros and Cons: Con #1 – The Pay
The pay is not as lucrative as other medical specialities. You will still be well paid, but if you want to become rich, maybe you should pursue medicine or dentistry.
Starting salaries for newly qualified optometrists in the UK are approx. £25,000, depending on your employer and location.
With 5+ years’ experience you can earn from around £28,000 to in excess of £65,000. However, it can be difficult to get pay rises as the work you do each year will not vary from one year to the next.
In many cases, the way to earn more money is to sell more glasses/lenses which can be difficult to do.
Ever wonder how long it takes to become a Dentist, Doctor, or Vet? If so, check out my infographic post
Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Con #2 – No Career Progression
Once you graduate, you are an optometrist. It is difficult to do anything else with that degree. Once you start working, there is not much variety to the work.
There is not much opportunity to get into more interesting work. If you compare it to radiography, you can become a sonographer or get involved with innovative technology, optometry is just more of the same.
Optometry Pros and Cons: Con #3 – It Can Be Boring
It is a very repetitive job. In university, you may hear about lots of rare conditions but in reality a lot of your day is routine eye exams and recommending lenses/glasses.
A lot of your day is spent working on your own. While there is a patient there with you, you will not have the camaraderie of working in a team or with colleagues.
If you are the type of person to get bored easily, then maybe Optometry is not the career for you.
Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Con #4 – Reputation
Most people will not see Optometrists as medical professionals. Many people if they have eye problems they will go to their GP, or A&E as they think an Optometrist will just refer them there anyway.
90% of Optometrists work in a retail setting where they are expected to sell glasses or contact lenses. This can result in a difficult undergraduate degree being underappreciated.
Optometry Pros and Cons: Con #5 – Weekend Working
Due to the pressure to sell glasses and lenses, most employers will want you to work Saturdays, and maybe even Sundays. You also will not get paid any extra for working weekends or bank holidays.
If you work for yourself, you will have to work unsociable hours just to compete with the big branded stores.
Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Con #6 – Competition
If you want to go out on your own and open your own shop you will face stiff competition from big corporations and online retailers. Costs of glasses and lenses are reducing online all the time, so it can be quite hard to make any kind of decent money.
Optometry Pros and Cons: Con #7 – Patient/Customers
Your patients are also your customers and will treat you as such. Doctors don’t sell their patients anything, whereas Optometrists need to be salespeople too.
Sometimes when you give your patient advice, they will think you are just trying to sell them something which can foster mistrust. The public will want a good service at a fair price. Demanding customers can be draining if they constantly have unrealistic expectations or are rude.
Optometry Career Pros and Cons: Con #8 – Sales Pressure
The majority of the revenue you bring is in is not from your services i.e. eye exams, it’s from the goods you sell i.e. glasses, lenses, etc. You will have targets to sell a high percentage of your patient’s lenses and glasses per day. This can be incredibly hard to do.