Optometrist Salary

What is an optometrist?

optometryAs a profession, optometry is based on dealing with everything concerning the health of the eyes and other structures which are linked, but also structures that are related to the vision, the systems that are visual and so on. In the United States, as well as in other countries like Nigeria or Canada, the job definition for this health care professional can be found under the name of doctor of optometry. And they benefit like any other physicians to be held to the standards that legally are on the same line.

With other words, optometrists are those health care professionals who are responsible to give and provide the patient with a diagnostic that concerns various diseases related to the eyes’ vision, but also to prescribe the lenses that are fit and improve one’s vision.

In almost all the states that can be found in the United States, optometrists have a license to practice, this involving the right to give a diagnostic, but also to treat those diseases that affect the eye through drugs that can be therapeutic or orally administrated.

However, in other countries like the United Kingdom, optometrists do not take the medical training that allows them the equivalent of the physicians, and they are not viewed as ones. There are some states in which the doctors of optometry are capable of performing some types of laser surgeries.

Job description of optometrist

As a job description, an optometrist is the person with a license who is trained to examine the patient’s eyes in order to discover the visual defects that can appear or that are already there. But also they are those health care professionals who deal with finding problems and impairments and give a clear diagnostic.

They are those independent professionals who deal with the eye conditions, in which they examine, and treat injuries or disorders that are common to the visual system and other associated structures based on the eye. They also give therapy for a patient’s vision, but also to the cases involving rehabilitation on low vision.

An optometrist is the one who also prescribes contact lenses or eyeglasses that correct your vision or they apply other types of treatment to the patient. And then, they also have the responsibility to give a correct medication.

Their job is also to deliver the necessary counseling to their patients’ visual needs concerning surgical or non-surgical possibilities. If there are cases of surgery, then they are the healthcare professionals, who provide the consultation before and after the operation as well as the care that is required,

There is also a difference between them and the ophthalmologists who are able to perform the eye surgeries and from the opticians, whose main job is to design and fit lenses.

How to become an optometrist?

If you, as a person, are interested in making people feel good about their vision and if you want to contribute to their eye health by improving their eye vision, then optometry is the career path for you. So, here are some tips for learning how to become an optometrist.

First of all, get your high school diploma, and while in the years of study in high school, pay careful attention to the classes that involve subject like biology, chemistry and physiology. This science classes will for sure help you determine whether you want to continue on this path or not. Here your skills will be revealed.

Many schools focus on coursework that involves among the subjects mentioned earlier subjects like English, and mathematics. Choose a counselor who will help you decide what courses to follow, but also make sure to verify all the necessary requirements for the optometry programs you want to enroll in.

There are programs available in the branch of optometry that don’t require you to graduate from a college before you start to enroll. But still, you have to finish three years of four from a program before admission.

However, you will have to succeed in having a bachelor’s degree before you will earn an optometry degree. To apply to those accredited optometry schools, you’ll have to pass the OAT test with other words the Optometry Admission Test.

If you are among those candidates who succeed with good results and performance, then it is likely that this test will increase the chances of acceptance. Before you will start to enroll for the test, make sure that you’ve made some research. Read the guide that is addressed to the OAT test, including the information which is about eligibility requirements, the rules that involve conduct, testing procedures and so on.

Then, you are qualified not only to understand the structure of the test correctly, but you are capable to hold the test. The administration of the test is held during the year at Prometric Test Centers. If you want to improve your skills in test, as well as your performance, then you should apply for an OAT preparatory course. Usually, to register for the test, a non-refundable fee is required.

The best solution in this case of becoming an optometrist is if you complete a Doctor of Optometry program with the length of four years and as a condition, it should be completed in an accredited institution or school.

Depending on the school you choose to follow, the program cost will vary. The annual tuition varies from $9,100 and up to $22,100 in the case of state residents. Also, as a candidate with a major, to get the chances of succeeding in this career path, try to complete a postgraduate residency program in optometry.

These residency programs in optometry will give the future candidate the perspective of gaining practice in this field, by working under the supervision and guidance of professionals. But it develops in you the necessary skills to advance in optometry.

Residency programs have many benefits to go by, since many of them are provided to the lower levels of society. The programs usually have a length of time of one year and they should be recognized by the ACOE with other words the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education.

The last step that will help you to become an optometrist is the right to practice, an action that in every state in the United States is required by possessing a license. But before getting a license, you will have to complete the Doctor of Optometry (O.D) program. The licensure process is based on completing the written and clinical examinations.

In some states, before taking the license, there are some requirements that involve taking an additional examination. In order to keep your license current and renewed, check the rules that are available for renewing your optometry license.

As an optometrist, you have to possess the necessary empathy, but also to have those profound communication skills because after all, you’ll be working with patients who come from various environments and have various ages.

Work Environment and Schedule

The number of employed optometrists encompassed 33,000 in 2010 and the number of the jobs found started to increase in the last years. The work environment in which over half of the optometrists are working is found in the optometry practices.

Others can be found working in hospitals, retail stores, clinics and other medical practices and a little percentage of optometrists can be found as being self-employed.

Those who are self-employed are usually working by practice individually or by practicing in groups or partnership, this depending on each case. The optometrists work in clean areas like their own offices, if they dispose of one. The ones who work with a schedule of full time job, work usually more than 35 hours per week. And also in order to make sure that their patients have the best needs covered, they also work on Saturdays and many times in the evenings, if not the whole time.

The emergency calls if once were not so encountered, now have an increasing level due to the laws of therapeutic drugs given for allowing optometrist to have the clearance to prescribe medication.

Pros and cons of being an Optometrist

The best choices are being made after accurate information about any job. Before deciding what road to choose, or what career mountain to climb here are a few pros and cons of being an Optometrist in US. Working as an Optometrist will give you the opportunity to be in the first line as one of the first professionals that take care of patient’s vision.

This field has a very good growth due to the increased numbers of demanding and as well as the bloom in the aging population. The most rewarding is being able to help people gain their eyesight by providing the right method of treatment.

As an Optometrist, you can find plenty of job openings, and you’ll work will allow you to work in various locations or geographical areas. Your schedule is nothing to fear about with a regular of 35 – 40 hours work per week, you’ll have time for yourself or enjoy your family. The options in the working area are very numerous, and so are the settings. From the private practice and up to the government openings or retail stores, you’ll find your dream job in no time.

The cons in this career start with the education requirements that, in this case, can be pretty high and demanding. You’ll need around seven years in graduating the right training path in order to become a doctor of optometry. The problem starts in US also with a lack in optometry schools, this meaning that even the process of admission can be very tough and extremely competitive.

You’ll be required as well to renew your license through a continuous education process. Also, you will need to succeed on the state licensing exam. This could certainly leave a hole in your financial status and at the end of your graduation years a financial debt.

However your hard work and your time will be rewarded with the opportunity of helping many people with their vision as well you’ll get a nice income, higher than the average one. The optometry specialist salary can be estimated at about $97,010 per year in 2016.

Optometrist Job Growth

The bad news when it comes to optometrist job growth careers is the fact that there aren’t so many available jobs on the market if it were to compare it with other advanced healthcare jobs. Still this career is estimated to have above the average growth rate. With other words people who want to work in this field can expect in the years that come to a slightly fair amount of new job openings.

This is the best option for you if for instance you are interested in a high paying medical career that has the main focus of working with people’s vision. The employment in the US, for optometrists, is projected to have an increased rate as a response to the necessities of the aging population since many of the eye problems are usually associated with the age. Then it makes a lot more sense that the demand concerning eye problems will be increasing in a proportional manner.

Optometry salary

When it comes to the salary that an optometrist is gaining, it involves a realistic image of a great potential earning. An optometrist salary in the United States can reach up to $174,890 in one year. If as an optometrist you are one who works as a self-employer, then the salary that you have is higher than that of an optometrist who is working in other various settings.

For example, if you practice individually, then your salary can reach as an average up to $134,035 per year while if you work in a group of optometrists you’ll have a salary of around $158,900.

But this is not all, because according to the environment settings, the salaries in the field of optometry vary as well. The median annual salary for an optometrist in the United States is of $97,800 but as mentioned earlier, according to each state and the location salary varies.

For example, if an individual works in an optometrist office, then his salary will be estimated per year at $93,000. The starting level for an optometrist concerning the salary with the medical experience that is less than twelve months can vary from $68,900 to $91,290. Half of the optometrists earn an annual income that varies from $70,130 and up to $126,100.

The average salary also varies according to the states. For example, if we pay attention to the average salary in Ohio, it is of $133,210 while in Alaska it can reach at $130,100 and in Tennessee it will be estimated at $135,470.

The best paid optometrist salary can reach (in the United States) at about $130,100, while the lowest percentage in a salary gained by an optometrist is situated at $90,100 per year. With all this, to work in in a private practice means that your income can exceed your expectations reaching to $174,600 or more per year.

The optometrist job is one of the well-paid jobs in the healthcare system and with this, as mentioned earlier, the variation in salary depends on other factors like the medical experience in the field. If you succeed in gaining a constant clientele, then you’ve opened some more doors in your business that will bring huge rewarding.

Your salary level is also influenced on the economic fluctuation, as well as the setting in which you are working or the metropolitan area of each state. But also, your education as an optometrist is of great importance and value, due to the license that you have to possess.

Your salary as an optometrist will be influenced by the number of the demanding that is reached in one month or in one year. The median wage per hour in the job of an optometrist can be estimated at $50,90 per an hour. This, related to other fields, is of an excellent level of payment due to the increasing numbers of people who are in need for an optometrist.

In a world that is so unstable, the certitude of having a good salary will provide you with the necessary stability, especially if you have a family to take care of. Your future outlook is great and many new career opportunities will knock at your door and you’ll have an equilibrated balance between the level of expenses and the requirements of the economic flux.

There is also a division in salary between the rural and urban environment, between the small and the large cities, where in salary is also an extended variation by every state. It is very useful to choose this career path, since in every state there are plenty of good openings, in many areas there are places where you can establish a job context, which is more agreeable in many circumstances.

Salary of an Optometrist in 2015

The salary of an optometrist in 2015 in the US will mainly be influenced by the type of industry in which you are operating. Those who are self-employed or who work in the private domain will earn a higher income than those who are working in the state sector. The same applies for those who practice in groups compared to those who work on their own.

For instance working as a self-employed you’ll earn a salary that reaches $134,096 per year. At the same time, if you operate in a large group then you can easily expect to an income that reaches about $159,324 per year.

The optometrist salary in 2015 for these professionals is also influenced according to other factors that involve the location, training, experience, and setting. The lowest points and the highest points are not to be forgotten in the US economy. According to the state in which you are your salary will increase or decrease.

Optometrist Salary in 2016

The good news for someone working as an optometrist, in the US, is the fact that this career in the healthcare system is classified as having one of the highest income averages. The lowest incomes for the year 2016 of these professionals are estimated to be below the average when compared with other similar advanced medical careers.

The salaries of these professionals mainly depend upon a few influential factors such as the city in which one is working in. Also, it will depend according to the experience that one has by working in the medical field or based upon the specialties that one has and the advanced training.

As mentioned before the incomes for optometrists are generous, the average optometrist payment in 2016 being estimated at $97,090 or even above. The salaries for these professionals have lower and higher points. For instance, the lowest points for optometrists start from $74,010 per year or even less and can rise to $136,010 per year not to mention that these professionals also receive bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions.

The pay levels for the year 2016 are also influenced by the various factors such as education, training, experience and demographic factors such as location and population thresholds. The lowest wages it is thought to be gained by those that are working in an entry level position while those professionals that have higher earnings it is thought that they gained them with a lot more experience, and many of them were working in managerial positions.

On this list of various factors that influence how much an optometrist is earning you can also add the size of the practice in which one is working in. Another fact that is known by everyone is that those who are hired in the private practices tend to earn more than those that are hired in other public facilities such as hospitals, or clinics.

With the location, optometrists that are working in larger and bigger cities tend to earn more and are paid with higher salaries than those who are working in rural or suburban areas.

Optometrist salary in Canada, Australia and UK

In other areas than in the United States, the salary estimation can be in different ranges. If you live in Canada, then the salary in the optometrist job will vary from $80,100 CAD and up to $140,100 CAD. At the same time, in the UK, the average salary per year reaches at £38,300. The median average salary is estimated at £36,900. The optometrist salary varies based on the employed age.

In Australia, for example, the salary ranges from AUD $48,000 and up to the income of AUD $101,540. There is also a yearly bonus of AUD $9,905. But the salary averages consist from AUD $49,670 and reach up to AUD $108,475.

Conclusion on Optometry salary

In the healthcare system, the optometrist job is one of best paid jobs in the system. Anyone, if he chooses to follow this career opportunity, has the opportunity to advance and reach (according to the location and the environment in which he is working) to a good and well paid annual salary.


In this article, we discussed about what an optometrist is, and what the main duties are that he has to perform, based on the job description. We also talked about what the required studies are to fulfill and how optometrist programs that are required to be completed take you up to the level of obtaining a required license, in order to have the right to practice.

We also mentioned the environments in which an optometrist works and how the schedule is made also for the benefit of the patients. In the last part of this article, we’ve discussed the topic of salary in the United States that according to the well-established settings influences the average salary that can be received per year. We can also read about how the salaries are in other countries from the position of an optometrist, mentioning Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, followed by a short conclusion.

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  • First Published Date: 19 June, 2014
  • Last Updated Date: 1 July, 2016