National Avg. Salary

$115,750 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

27.1% More Growth Data →

Recommended Degree

PhD or Professional Programs & Degrees →

Attributes

  • Dependable Daily Workload
  • Don't Take Work Home
  • Good Entry Level Salary
  • Growing Industry

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Optometrists are physicians who specialize in treating vision disorders. They perform vision tests, diagnose the level of vision loss a patient is experiencing, and write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. Additionally, they diagnose issues like glaucoma by performing dilatation or other techniques.

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Job Description

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in optometrist roles:

  • Conduct eye exams to determine the state of a patient’s vision or vision loss
  • Diagnose patients with vision disorders like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
  • Provide patients with prescriptions for glasses and contacts by measuring a patient’s level of vision loss and the diameter of the patient’s irises
  • Use specialized equipment or dilatation techniques to evaluate patients for common eye diseases like glaucoma
  • Educate patients on how to care for vision to promote eye health and prevent vision loss

A Day in the Life

Optometrists are doctors who specialize in treating vision loss. From an early age, patients visit the optometrist to have their vision checked. The optometrist evaluates a patient using a variety of tools and techniques, such as having patients read letters or identify symbols on an eye testing chart, or by using specialized equipment. When vision loss is discovered, the optometrist diagnoses the patient with either nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, and forms a treatment plan to correct vision.

In cases of minor vision loss, the optometrist may recommend that the patient uses over the counter products like readers. In cases of more severe vision loss, the eye doctor prescribes vision correction devices like glasses and contacts to the patient. To do this, the optometrist must conduct a series of tests to determine exactly what level prescription to assign the patient, and he/she must also measure the diameter of a patient’s irises when prescribing contact lenses.

Optometrists also test patients for common eye diseases like glaucoma. They use specialized tools or dilatation techniques to view around and behind eyes to search for signs of trouble. They also educate patients on how to maintain and promote eye health, and how to prevent further vision loss. They may educate patients on the importance of not wearing contacts overnight, or they may recommend that patients quit smoking to decelerate vision loss.

Typical Work Schedule

Optometrists commonly work full-time schedules. Some many work during normal business hours, while others may choose to work evenings and/or weekends to make their services more accessible to patients who work or go to school during normal business hours.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for optometrists is expected to grow significantly over the coming decade. The primary reason for this growth is due to the large, aging Baby Boomer generation. Because vision loss is more common as people age, optometrists will be in high demand to meet the needs of an increasingly large population of seniors.

Typical Employers

Optometrists most commonly work for private practices. They may be self-employed and operate their own office, they may share a practice with one or more other optometrists, or they may work for a chain vision provider like LensCrafters, Costso, Walmart, JCPenney, Sam’s Club, or Pearle Vision.

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Optometrist Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

Low Range

$77,310

Average

$115,750

High Range

---

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$37/hr

Average

$56/hr

High Range

---

How do Optometrist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Optometrist's can make an average annual salary of $115,750, or $56 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $77,310 or $37 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #36 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

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How To Become

The first step in becoming an optometrist is earning a bachelor’s degree. Students commonly pursue undergraduate degrees in the sciences, but your major isn’t as important as the coursework you take as an undergraduate student. Courses in biology, physics, physiology, writing, math, and communications are important for preparing you for a graduate optometry program. Undergraduate students must also pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)—a standardized test used by colleges to select new students.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to enroll in a graduate optometry program. Aspiring optometrists complete four years of study in a graduate program before earning a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree. With an O.D. degree, students must then take the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam. Passing this written test allows optometrists to become licensed to perform optometry services in their state, though some states require continuing education throughout your career.

While an O.D. degree and successfully passing the necessary licensing examination is sufficient for finding work as an optometrist, some optometrists choose to complete one more year of education to specialize in a certain field of optometry. For example, additional residencies may be available for optometrists to specialize in treating children, treating seniors, or treating ocular disease.


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Quick Summary

  • Recommended Min. Degree

    PhD or Professional

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Optometrist. a PhD or Professional is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Optometrist

  • 95.1%   Doctorate
  • 2.4%   Masters
  • 1.6%   Bachelors
  • 0.3%   Associates
  • 0%   College
  • 0.5%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

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Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

40,600

2024 Est. Jobs

51,600

Job Growth Rate

27.1%

Est. New Jobs

11,000

How does Optometrist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 11,000 jobs for a total of 51,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 27.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #20 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

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What Companies Employ The Most Optometrists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of optometrists 19,800 6,200 6%
Self-employed workers 6,800 2,000 2%
Offices of physicians 6,100 1,400 1%

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