NHS Careers > Explore by career > Allied health professions > Careers in the allied health professions > Orthoptist > Entry and training

Entry requirements and training for orthoptists

This page describes the entry requirements and training for a career in orthoptics.

Entry requirements for orthoptists

The minimum academic entry requirements onto courses in orthoptics are a minimum of five GCSE passes (or equivalent) including English language, mathematics and at least one science, plus three A level passes at grade C or above.

Alternative acceptable qualifications

There are a number of alternatives to the GCSEs.

Entry is also possible through validated access courses, BTEC National Diploma/Certificates and GNVQ plus one A level.

Applications are welcomed from applicants who left full time study some time ago, but they will usually need to provide evidence of recent academic study and/or relevant experience at an appropriate level.

Along with the academic qualifications, the applicant will need to have good communication skills and be able to relate to both children and adults. You will also need to have good organisational skills, patience and a good sense of humour. Additionally, you will need to be self motivated, observant and be capable of working under your own initiative or as part of a team.


To practice as an orthoptist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Click here for more information about HCPC registration. 

In order to register with the HCPC, you must first successfully complete an HCPC-approved programme in orthoptics.

This is a three-year full-time degree course, available only at a small number of universities in the UK. It leads to the honours degree of orthoptics and provides the necessary training for professional practice as an orthoptist.

The first year of the course provides the necessary scientific background for an understanding of the normal visual system, plus an introduction of optics and orthoptics.

In years two and three you will develop a knowledge of investigation and the management of disorders of binocular vision. Ophthalmology and pathology are also studied in detail to enable students to recognise ocular disorders and to understand the disease process.

A total of 32 weeks of clinical placement are completed during the three year course - the placements are arranged in various orthoptic departments throughout the country. Students will undertake the clinical work under the supervision of clinical tutors.

You can get a list of universities approved to run programmes in orthoptics by using our coursefinder. You can also get a list of approved courses by visiting the HCPC website

Students who successfully complete programmes which are approved by the HCPC, are then eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC. Once registered, practitioners are required to retain their names on the register, by paying an annual retention fee.

Financial support for students on orthoptics courses

For information about financial support whilst taking a course in orthoptics, please click here.

Applying for a degree in orthoptics

Applications for degree programmes are administered by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).