How to Become An Optometrist In Canada – 10 Best Steps

Optometrists are primary eye Care doctors and medical specialists whose job is to keep our eyes in check and in their best form.

The eyes, being a very delicate yet strong sense organ, need constant checks and care and that’s what Optometrists are there for.

Optometrists are highly taught and well educated, versed in eye Care, and also in general health. They test the eyes and diagnose for issues which usually leads them to find any other health-related issues and refer such a patient to the right health personnel, they treat a patient depending on the results and they help in the management of vision changes.

Optometrists are not medical doctors but receive a Doctor of Optometry degree (OD) after a competition of a four-year program in a school of Optometry, preceded by a three/four-year college course.

After all the processes which usually end with getting a license, optometrists can start practicing which is caring for and managing the entirety of the eye organ of a patient.

We will be showing you how to become an optometrist in Canada in 10 steps.

How to Become An Optometrist In Canada

In this section, we’ll be discussing the basic steps of how to become an optometrist in Canada and other very relevant and related information.

Step 1-Start Preparing Early & Know the Prerequisites

Early preparation always beats every other plan and since you’ve already decided on picking Optometry as a career path, you should take very intentional steps in making sure your dream comes to actualization.

This preparation should start as early as high school, probably after careful deliberation with parents and guardians.

After a fine length of deliberation, admission requirements should be the first thing in mind. Enrollment in proper courses in line with Optometry for a science degree program at one of the two reputable universities in Canada.

Apply for a full-time program in the faculty of sciences for a bachelor of the science degree program. 

Remember to select a bachelor of science program with enough flexibility to choose from a range of elective courses as you’ll be needing to take some courses which would be required when applying for a degree in Optometry, also bear in mind that community college programs are excluded as prerequisites for a degree.

Step 2-Obtain Your Bachelor of Science Degree

Make sure you’re done with these processes first; enrollment, completion of all undergraduate course requirements for your degree program, and taking over 30 courses in a space of 6 terms, before the commencement of your OD program. 

Mandatory courses at the BSc level Include; introductory Ethics, English, introductory psychology, (introductory biology, physics, and biology with inclusive laboratory), physiology, calculus, statistics, introductory organic chemistry, introductory microbiology, and introductory biochemistry. and they all account for half the courses your offer during your degree study.

The overall university average is 75% and should be maintained throughout your study. Also, While applying for your degree program, you can be in the process of completing your BSc degree.

Constantly bear in mind that while applying, your focus should be on biological sciences or even on pre-medical significance, should maintain a high average of a B or higher, and focus on math and sciences as its prerequisite courses.

Step 3- Pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

Your Optometry Admission Test should be taken 2 years before your Doctor Of Optometry Program and should be taken after your Required BSc courses.

The OAT is a test organized by the association of schools and colleges of Optometry for the degree program and is an electronic multi-choice test taken at the Prometric Inc. test center.

It is a five-hour test covering questions on chemistry, physics, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, survey and natural sciences, biology, and organic chemistry. And costs $490 with an additional fee of $40 per school your application would be sent to by preference.

You would be needing two confidential assessment forms, English language proficiency requirements, criminal records, and Canadian citizenship files check, evidence of volunteer experience, and academic and non-academic awards.

Step 4- Meet All Citizenship Requirements Before Enrollment in the OD Program

Canada has just two School of Optometry which is the university of Waterloo and université de montréal . and if Waterloo University soothes your preference you’re expected to be a citizen or a legal resident (anyways the OD is only offered at Waterloo University).

Getting all Requirements ready is very important because your status as a legal resident if you’re an international student, can only be valid if your permit has been issued up to 12 months before time.

Also, the university of Waterloo accepts a limited number of submitted applications for an OD program at the University.

Step 5- Enroll and Pass Your Doctor Of Optometry Program (OD)

You can now enroll and complete your four-year degree at the University of Waterloo, Ontario Canada, which combines the best-in-class teaching as well as a strictly supervised clinical experience in Canada. 

Remember to start your application process 15 months before your original start of program date to complete the entirety of your admission process and submitted every required document.

For your files and documents, you’ll need to submit official transcripts for the first two terms of your third year, and official transcripts of your BSc attached to your application. Only after this will you be likely to resume.

Step 6- Pass the NBEO exam

The national board of examiners in Optometry exam is a compulsory exam usually taken after completing your doctorate.

The NBEO is responsible for reporting results of valid examinations that prove competence and developing, administering, and scoring those results services resourcefully to the Optometry profession.

The NBEO has three exam parts which come in the third year of Optometry School(March), the fourth year of Optometry School(December), and the beginning of your third year summer (December).

Step 7- Go Through and Complete Your Residency

At the finish of your NBEO exams, you can enroll in a complete one-year residency program to get advanced training in clinical residency in whatever area of your chosen specialization and you’re just about making your dream come true.

Step 8- Get Licensed

To get your license as a practicing Optometrist, you’ll need to submit all provincial and territorial license Requirements to be approved. After the complete process of evaluating and approving your license Requirements, congratulations, you can now to to to to receive your license as a practicing Optometrist.

You can resume work in that territory, province, or district as a practicing Optometrist In an establishment or by starting a practice of your own if you have the available funds and investment,  provided you’re not asked for additional evidence from the association.

Step 9- Enroll in an Internship

As an intern, you’ll be part of training and research and will shadow a practicing Optometrist to understand the job and have first-hand experience, make prescriptions and recommendations to patients, and all the many roles of an optometrist.

These internships are available in so many fields mostly connected to clinical care. In the tech space, an optometrist under Internship may help programmers to learn how to adjust displays to be accountable for a user’s inability to use glasses while using a virtual reality device. Just like other internships, Optometry cross parts with many other roles and responsibilities which can vary from the other.

Step 10- Go Ahead and Apply For a Job

With your degree, experience from internship, and broad knowledge of the world of Optometry, go ahead and apply for a job.

You can do your best to be retained after your Internship, submit an application at another establishment be it private or governmental, or start a practice of your own if that suits you better.

Skills Required Of An Optometrist 

  • Empathy

  • Communication skills

  • Time management skills

  • Listening skills

  • Observational skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Physical stamina 

Roles Of An Optometrist

  • Examine and perform routine checks.

  • Diagnose and treat patients accordingly. 

  • test and identify sight problems. 

  • Prescribe drugs, corrective lenses, etc.

  • Refer patients to the right healthcare worker in cases of problems that are not sight related.

  • Advice and promote proper eye Care ethics.

Career Options In Optometry 

  • Optometrist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Optician
  • Trainee Optometrist
  • Vision Consultant
  • Dispensing Optician
  • Optical Engineer

Educational Requirements 

Educational requirements would include:
  • Three years of undergraduate education.

  • Four/five years of a complete University program in Optometry and accredited by the accreditation council on Optometric education.

  • A graduate of Optometry should be able to completely satisfy all provincial board Requirements in the province or territory of their intended practice. The requirements include an exam organized by the Optometry examination board of Canada.

  • Completion of a one-year residency training program after completion of a doctor of Optometry degree.


What are the qualifications for Optometry?

For you to be qualified to become a practicing Optometrist, you will need to be a degree holder in optometry which should be approved by the general optical council of the country, and also complete a one-year supervised work placement with a registered and practicing Optometrist while qualifying the final assessment of the general optical council.

Is it hard to get into a school of Optometry in Canada?

Canada has just two accredited universities of Optometry, so it’s supposedly and relatively difficult to get admission into a school of Optometry that’s based in Canada.

But if you take our advice on early planning and making the perfect entry grades, then you’ll be one out of many that are struggling to gain admission into schools of Optometry in Canada.

Is it hard to become an optometrist in Canada?

Nothing comes easy and so it is with schools of Optometry. Usually, first-year students take the whole heat of a new campus environment and new unfamiliar people.

But when it comes to academics, you sure know what you signed up for so facing a super competitive environment shouldn’t come as a surprise.

How much money do optometrists in Canada make per year?

The average salary for an Optometrist is $106,955 per year in Canada.

This is the average yearly salary which includes housing, transport, and other benefits. However, optometrist salaries vary drastically based on experience, skills, gender, or location.

Below you will find a detailed breakdown based on many different criteria.

Do you have to get an undergraduate degree in math or science before applying to optometry school?

No, you do not. You have the option to pursue your undergraduate degree in whatever you choose including art, business, and other degrees offered at your university as long as you take the required prerequisite courses to apply to optometry school.

How many years does it take to become an optometrist in Canada?

A total of 8-9 years of schooling and practicum is required to become an optometrist.

This includes four years of an undergraduate degree, four years of a doctorate degree, and a one-year residency program.


Optometry students usually work as associates upon graduation in an already existing practice before becoming partners, buying a new one, or setting up a new practice altogether.

Those already practicing Optometrists are usually seen working in the private sector and own either solely or jointly an established practice. Or can work from multiple “satellite” offices.

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