Optometrists’ futures

A survey of recruitment, retention and career aspirations of the optometric workforce


The Survey

The AOP engaged the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to carry out a survey of optometrists, designed to help us understand the career aspirations and motivations of optometrists. Thank you once again to everyone who participated in the survey.

Aim of the survey

One of the biggest issues facing employers in optics, whether multiple or independent, is the recruitment and retention of staff.

We wanted to understand what drives optometrists’ career choices and what they want for their futures. We also wanted to hear from employers and managers about their problems, and their successes, in recruiting and retaining staff.

Outcomes from the survey

The survey has yielded a huge amount of rich and valuable information. Some is new and surprising, some confirms what we have already understood. Headline findings are:

  • Like other health professions, optometry is becoming more female and more Asian
  • The workforce values flexibility. Over a quarter of respondents work solely as locums, and flexible working is the most important motive for this
  • While support, equipment and good training are key things that attract young optometrists, established optometrists rate culture and values highly, along with flexibility and convenience
  • The majority of respondents intend to stay in the profession for at least five years/until they retire
  • Around a quarter of respondents are interested in running a business. 16% want to be independent business owners, 7% want to be JVPs/franchisees and 2% employed managers
  • Just under a quarter of employers/managers reported that they had an optometrist vacancy
  • Employers reported some successful recruitment techniques, but the survey evidence that many optometrists either can’t or don’t want to move location, confirms the concerns of many employers who struggle to find suitable candidates for optometry roles

To see further, more detailed, insights from the report over the next few weeks and months, including how the AOP intends to use the findings to support our members, visit:

Further information

If you have any questions about why this survey was commissioned, and how the data will be used by the AOP, please contact the policy team on [email protected].

November 2018