Professions Relying on Good Eyesight
Thinking about making a career change? Are you in school and thinking about which job to pursue? Wondering what you want to be when you grow up? If you’ve got excellent vision and take good care of your eyes, there are a number of awesome careers for you to choose from.
With many of these careers, having great vision is as much of a prerequisite as having a college degree! Even if you have to correct your vision with glasses, contact lenses, or LASIK surgery, you may still be eligible to hold down one of these jobs in certain instances, so fret not!
Of course, good vision isn’t enough; you have to put in the work and have a real passion for what you’re learning and doing. If you want to fly, swim, save, create, and more, here are our top 7 jobs with vision requirements:
1. Air Traffic Controller.
Directing takeoffs, landings, and everything else related to flight traffic requires not only great eyesight, but high intelligence, too. There’s no margin for error. You need to make sure that airplanes have sufficient distance between them, and even the slightest miscalculation can cause them to collide or crash—and lose the most precious cargo they can carry.
In the USA, candidates for air traffic controller positions 1 must have 20/20 vision in each eye separately, with or without correction.
2. Airline pilot.
Similar to air traffic controllers, thousands of people trust their lives every day to pilots and co-pilots, making it one of the most high-pressure jobs on the planet. From studying all those gauges to approaching runways; from scanning long distances to dealing with poor-visibility weather, a pilot must have excellent vision to bring everyone to their destination safely.
In the USA, a pilot needs 20/20 vision, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 2
Running into burning buildings and dealing with smoke, water, and flames is highly demanding and stressful, and requires a peak level of physical fitness. It’s a tough, demanding career, and over 70% of candidates give up before completing their training. 3 But you also need sharp eyesight to spot people and animals in peril, while navigating so many visual (and physical) hazards. In addition, you need to be able to visually judge distances when performing rescues, so good depth perception is essential.
Many firefighters in the USA must pass vision best practices set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Under NFPA 1582, a candidate can wear protective glasses or contact lenses, or have undergone a Lasik vision correction procedure, and still be a firefighter. 4
4. Computer Programmer / Web Developer.
These probably shouldn’t be listed among the professions relying on good eyesight, since they have no actual visual requirements, although 20/20 vision is a nice-to-have. Coders and developers can get digital eye strain from spending long stretches of time in front of computers, trying to meet those demanding go-live deadlines, so they need to take care of their eyes. 5
When a patient literally puts their life into your hands, you’d better have good eyesight and steady hands. Surgeons perform delicate, lifesaving operations to deal with injuries, deformities, and diseases—and do this in a high-stress environment. Seeing where to make an incision requires excellent vision; even the slightest miscalculation of a millimeter can have unfortunate consequences.
Having an artist’s touch and the best cameras and lenses isn’t enough. You also need excellent vision to spot the best photo opp—then take it immediately. The good news is that there are no vision requirements for photographers, as you find with other careers. But having a good “eye” for your subject is essential!
Sitting high on a tower, a lifeguard needs to scan an ocean, lake, or pool—and filter out all the distractions of those environments—to keep swimmers safe. Good distance and close-up vision are essential, as lifeguards need to monitor children splashing in the kiddie pool at their feet—along with the faraway swimmer out in the surf who could be caught in a rip current. The job also calls for fast reaction times and excellent physical fitness for those times when a distressed swimmer needs to be rescued.
Around the world, vision requirements for lifeguards vary; one study determined that they need to be able to see a swimmer’s head from 200-300 meters away.6 Wearing glasses is probably a deal-breaker, as these could fall off and interfere with rescue efforts.
In the USA, lifeguards save an estimated 100,000 people from drowning each year.7 If you’ve got the vision, you could literally make a life-or-death difference.