Orthoptic Practitioner BSc - Level 6


Orthoptists specialise in diagnosing and managing eye conditions, in a wide range of individuals, that largely affect eye movements, visual development or the way eyes work together. You’ll help improve the quality of people’s lives by treating eye disorders and spotting serious neurological conditions.

Skills and knowledge

To become an Orthoptist you will need:

  • knowledge of medicine and how the human body works
  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
  • good attention to detail


To become an orthoptist, you must first successfully complete an approved degree in orthoptics from one of the four universities in the UK which offer the course. The undergraduate course takes three to four years to complete and involves a lot of practical work with patients, as well as theoretical knowledge. There is also a postgraduate option which takes 2 years. Once you’ve completed your degree, you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practicing.

Routes into this job

You'll need to get a degree in orthoptics, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

There's a lot of competition for places on the orthoptics degree courses, so you'll need to show an understanding and commitment before you apply.

As well as a student loan, you may be able to access elements of the NHS Learning Support Fund, which can cover hardship, travel and childcare costs.


You'll usually need:
- two or three A levels, including a science.
- five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and science.

Or the equivalent qualifications:

- BTEC, HND or HNC, including science
- relevant NVQ
- science-based access course
- equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications

Each university sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check with them directly.

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in your local orthoptic department before you apply for a course.

You could contact the head orthoptist or the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

The British and Irish Orthoptics Society can provide information on work shadowing opportunities.

Career progression

Once you’ve qualified, you’ll have annual Continuing Professional Development (CPD) check-ins, where you will discuss your career aspirations and plan how to achieve them, so you’re always moving forward. Youll be encouraged to join the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) where you can keep your knowledge and skills up to date by attending courses, conferences and seminars.

Working for the NHS, you could become a specialist orthoptist and later, a senior or head orthoptist. As a head of orthoptic service, you’d be responsible for a team and manage budgets. Teaching and research are other career options, as well as working in a private practice.

Advanced Clinical Practitioner - Level 7

Advanced Clinical Practitioners are experienced clinicians who demonstrate expertise in their scope of practice. Advanced Clinical Practitioners manage defined episodes of clinical care independently, from beginning to end, providing care and treatment from the time an individual first presents through to the end of the episode, which may include admission, referral or discharge or care at home. They carry out their full range of duties in relation to individuals’ physical and mental healthcare and in acute, primary, urgent and emergency settings (including hospitals, general practice, individuals’ homes, schools and prisons, and in the public, independent, private and charity sectors). They combine expert clinical skills with research, education and clinical leadership within their scope of practice. Advanced Clinical Practitioners work innovatively on a one to one basis with individuals as well as part of a wider team. They work as part of the wider health and social care team and across traditional professional boundaries in health and social care.