Demand for optometrists is on the rise in Canada due to the aging population and the prevalence of age-related eye conditions. The optometry profession is facing a critical labor shortage that is expected to last until 2028. Optometrists are in demand across the country and you may be able to obtain a Canadian permanent resident visa with or without a job offer. Optometrists specialize in areas such as dry eye care, vision therapy, low vision treatment, and specialized contact lens placement. Most optometrists work in their own private office, group office, clinic, or community health center.
Some have an office in an eyewear retail store. Optometrists generally maintain regular work hours, but may be called after hours for an emergency. Many offices are also open on Saturdays. Optometrists who work in a private or group office can choose when and how many hours they work. They also often work as a team with eye doctors and other health professionals.
To become an optometrist, you need a four-year Doctor of Optometry degree, which includes in-class learning and supervised practical experience. Most optometry schools require that students first complete a four-year bachelor's degree in science, although a few accept students with three years of undergraduate studies. Optometrists must also be licensed by the College of Optometrists of British Columbia. Under the terms of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), most applicants who transfer their credentials from other locations in Canada will not need to complete additional training or exams. The regulator may ask applicants to provide more information, such as a supporting letter, references, or a criminal background check. Workers who were trained outside of Canada may need to go through a full evaluation process.
Most occupational regulators have an evaluation process in place and recognize applicants with international training. Contact the College of Optometrists of British Columbia for details on how to apply for certification in BC. For information on labor mobility in Canada, visit www.workersmobility.ca. To learn more about the programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC. Since there is a lot of demand for optometrists, you may be eligible to immigrate to Canada through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program (RNIP). To live and work in Canada as an optometrist, you will need to prove your qualifications obtained outside Canada and ensure that they are recognized in Canada.