The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 24 percent growth in optometrist jobs between 2008 and 2018. Increases in life expectancy and the rise of a more health-conscious population will increase the demand for optometrists. An equally compelling reason for the increase in demand is the need to replace retiring optometrists. About one-fourth of practicing optometrists are close to retirement, according to the American Optometric Association. Getting into an optometry school can be very difficult; only about one of three applicants received admission in 2007. As of 2009, there were 19 optometry schools in America and each institution has its own rules and regulations for admission. There are some common pre-requisites that apply to most optometry schools.
Acquire a minimum of one year of academic experience in the sciences. A strong background in sciences such as chemistry, biology, organic chemistry or general physics or microbiology is essential to make it into optometry school. Most candidates that apply to optometry schools major in science in their undergraduate studies or go through science programs that offer laboratory experience if they have a major in any other subject. You may also have to have at least one year of experience in English, college mathematics and social science and humanities. Talk with a pre-optometry advisor at your school or a consultant at the optometry school at which you wish to apply for details and requirements for application.
Take the Optometry Admission Test before submitting your application. The OAT is a formal exam for aspiring optometrists that tests their academic knowledge and scientific understanding. The exam tests applicants’ skills in four areas – natural sciences (such as biology and general and organic chemistry), physics, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning.
Apply to the optometry school as early as possible. Deadlines vary from school to school and can range from December 1 to April 1. Submit your OAT scores with your application. Most schools also require you to write a personal essay, submit recommendation letters and attend a personal interview.
Perform well on your personal interview. Schools look for candidates with deductive reasoning abilities and communication skills, and the interview is the perfect opportunity to show that you have those skills.