What can I do with my optometry degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with an optometry degree, and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employees and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and Skills

Undertaking a degree in optometry at the University of Plymouth will see you acquire relevant scientific knowledge and clinical experience, using the latest technology to enhance people’s lives. Abilities you will develop include:

  • communication and interpersonal skills to deal with people of all ages and backgrounds, and to put those who are anxious at ease
  • clinical decision making via understanding and applying scientific principles and methods, with a confidence to use complex equipment
  • the patience to carry out repetitive tasks with sound manual dexterity
  • good organisation and time management skills, allowing for tasks to be completed with precision and accuracy
  • working alone and as part of a team via collaborative learning opportunities and through clinical experience.

Career Options

Studying Optometry at the University of Plymouth will open a long-term, successful career for you. Graduates tend go on to become fully qualified and practising optometrists. Achieving this will require you to complete a supervised period of “pre-registration” employment after graduating (usually a year in length) in conjunction with the College of Optometrists. This period will include further training and work-based learning, combined with assessments and a final formal exam. Completion of this will then allow you to register with the General Optical Council (GOC), allowing you to practice as a professional in your own right.

Many optometrists work in a corporate/high street setting undertaking eye examinations, providing relevant advice to patients/clients and prescribe spectacles/contact lenses accordingly. Optometrists also find themselves working for the NHS in hospital environments alongside ophthalmologists and orthoptists, providing specialist support for an array of eye conditions. Alternatively, a role as a domiciliary optometrist suits many, allowing them to get out and support those who cannot reach an examination room to receive sound eye health care. Companies offering laser refractive surgery also employ optometrists for consultation and follow ups, before and after these operations respectively.

Continuing Personal Development (CPD) is a requirement for many optometrists, to make sure they keep their practice up to date. Many go on to also run their own business or manage the retail aspects and/or develop areas of the practice they work for. Some also take their skills and qualifications to work in other parts of the world. Within the NHS, it is possible to work your way up to become a consultant optometrist.

With so much still to learn about the eyes, and detecting and treating eye conditions, some graduates of optometry and/or qualified optometrists go on to become researchers and have careers in academia, or working for lens and ophthalmic instrument manufacturers.

Since specific career paths may be less obvious it is important to use your research skills to explore the range of opportunities and to consider your personal interests, motivations, values, and strengths. Also, do not forget that some employers will accept applications from graduates with a degree in any subject.

Researching your career options

Given the diversity of career options open to optometry graduates, it is important to research and explore these fully so that you can make informed decisions about your future.

Take a look at Prospects, TargetJobs and the following websites for inspiration:

Employment Opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth Optometry graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as ‘stepping stones’ to other roles by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Optometrist (Corporate)
  • Optometrist (NHS)
  • Practice Management Consultant
  • Vision Science Researcher
  • Pre-Registration Supervisor
  • Domiciliary Optometrist
  • Professor (with further study)

Employers

Further Study

Those interested in a career within research may benefit from undertaking a post-graduate research qualification. There are also a few taught masters degrees available, related to optometry, but consideration should be given to the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your individual situation.  

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable post-graduate programme;  

Careers Service Support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn alumni’s tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • Click on ‘Alumni’
  • Filter the results by subject, sector, company or location

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gain Work Experience

Since placements are a required part of every stage within the optometry degree programme, you will be acquiring some work experience as part of your course. That being said, any additional experience that can be acquired will help broaden and grow your knowledge and skills sets. For example, acquiring some part-time work with an optician, or a volunteering opportunity in the health care or social care sectors would be beneficial. The University of Plymouth Students’ Union offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities within the community.

Clubs and Societies

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication, and negotiation skills. Committee members can develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion.    

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to Optometry or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.    

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.