About the job

Nature of work:

Optometrists examine eyes and diagnose ocular diseases and disorders. They prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses and recommend treatments such as exercises to correct vision problems or ocular disorders. They work in private practice, clinics and community health centres.

Job duties:
Optometrists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Examine patients' eyes, conduct tests and use ophthalmoscopes, biomicroscopes and other specialized instruments to determine ocular health and visual efficiency.
  • Prescribe treatment (excluding surgery) to maintain, improve and correct vision and manage other ocular disorders.
  • Prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses.
  • Educate and advise patients on contact lens use and care, ocular hygiene, preventive care and maintenance, lighting arrangements, working distances and other safety factors.
  • Refer patients to ophthalmologists or other physicians and surgeons for treatment of ocular or other diseases or conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Optometrists may specialize in fitting visual aids for people who are partially blind, fitting contact lenses or correcting special vision problems.

Sample job titles:
  • doctor of optometry (OD)
  • optometrist

This work demands good hand-eye coordination and an aptitude for precision and accuracy. You should be comfortable working with delicate instruments and apparatus. Patience, tact, and the ability to put people at ease are important. You should also have good communication and interpersonal skills. Since most optometrists run their own practices, some business skills would be helpful.

Job requirements:
  • Three years of university undergraduate studies in mathematics and sciences and a four-year university program in optometry are required.
  • Licensing by the provincial or territorial regulatory governing body is required.
Other considerations:

Earnings depend upon the number of patients served and the services provided. Optometrists who are self-employed have considerable flexibility in their hours of work. Some may work on Saturdays or evenings to meet the needs of their patients.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Undetermined

This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Optometrists most commonly work full-time hours.

The median employment income for 44% of Optometrists who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $25,189. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum:  N/A
Median: $64,009
Maximum:  N/A
Occupations in Health36,515Strong growth4,385Low
Minimum: $16.38
Median: $25.50
Maximum: $41.00
Minimum: $10,740
Median: $43,853
Maximum: $88,944
OptometristsCompared to: Occupations in Health
Percent employed full-time92%77%
Percent self-employed13%10%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentOptometristsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton12%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley9%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeOptometristsCompared to: All Health
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4444
GenderOptometristsCompared to: Occupations in Health
% Employed% Employed
EducationOptometristsCompared to: All Health
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax1.1%$27,581
High schoolN/Ax6.9%$24,119
Trades certificateN/Ax5.0%$31,728
College certificate or diplomaN/A$63,98839.4%$36,693
University certificate or diplomaN/Ax4.8%$50,769
Bachelor's degreeN/A$47,32427.6%$57,186
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/A$84,7782.3%$61,833
Master's degree96.0%$99,2025.1%$87,808
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry8.0%$52,9447.2%$83,000
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Right to Title and Practice:This job is regulated and the job title is protected in Nova Scotia (you may not use this job title without holding a provincial licence). A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to work in this job.
Regulating body:
Nova Scotia College of Optometrists
PO Box 9410, Station A
Halifax, NS B3K 5S3
(902) 434-8810
(902) 425-2441
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Association of Optometrists
6009 Quinpool Road, Suite 700. PO Box 9410, Station A
Halifax, NS B3K 5S3
Tel: (902) 435-2845
Fax: (902) 425-2441
Canadian Examiners in Optometry
37 Sandiford Drive, Suite 403
Stouffville, ON L4A 7X5
Tel: (905) 642-1373
Fax: (905) 642-3786
Canadian Association of Optometrists
234 Argyle Avenue
Ottawa, ON K2P 1B9
Tel: (888) 263-4676
Fax: (613) 235-2025
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2L4
Tel: (902) 461-0871
Fax: (902) 461-9572
University of Waterloo - Optometry & Vision Science
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Tel: (519) 888-4567
Fax: (519) 884-8009

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Optometry (OD)
Education Level:This program is typically offered by a university school of medicine.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals for the independent professional practice of optometry and that focuses on the principles and techniques for examining, diagnosing and treating conditions of the visual system. These programs include courses in prescribing glasses and contact lenses, other optical aids, corrective therapies, patient counselling, physician referral, practice management, and ethics and professional standards.
There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.
Additional resources: