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Average Salary
$231,509
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
10%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
2,795
Job Openings

Optometrist Careers

Eyes are the window to the soul. So, as you can imagine, it's critical to keep those eyes in good and working order. If you want to be in charge of making sure everyone's eyes are functioning properly, then you should consider becoming an optometrist. Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and injuries.

Optometrists often prescribe glasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Some of their other duties include performing minor surgical procedures to correct or treat eye health issues, counseling patients on general eye health, and evaluating patients for the presence of other diseases, such as diabetes or liver failure.

To become an optometrist, you'll need to complete pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and then four years at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some doctors of optometry complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice. You'll also need to obtain an optometry license in the state in which you wish to work.

What Does an Optometrist Do

Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Duties

Optometrists typically do the following:

  • Perform vision tests and analyze results
  • Diagnose sight problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, and eye diseases, such as glaucoma
  • Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other visual aids, and if state law permits, medications
  • Perform minor surgical procedures to correct or treat visual or eye health issues
  • Provide treatments such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation
  • Provide pre- and postoperative care to patients undergoing eye surgery—for example, examining a patient’s eyes the day after surgery
  • Evaluate patients for the presence of other diseases and conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, and refer patients to other healthcare providers as needed
  • Promote eye and general health by counseling patients

Some optometrists spend much of their time providing specialized care, particularly if they are working in a group practice with other optometrists or physicians. For example, some optometrists mostly treat patients with only partial sight, a condition known as low vision. Others may focus on treating infants and children.

Optometrists promote eye health and counsel patients on how general health can affect eyesight. For example, they may counsel patients on how smoking cessation or weight loss can reduce vision problems.

Many optometrists own their practice and those who do may spend more time on general business activities, such as hiring employees, ordering supplies, and marketing their business.

Optometrists also may work as postsecondary teachers, do research in optometry colleges, or work as consultants in the eye care industry.

Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists or dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery and treat eye diseases in addition to performing eye exams and prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. For more information on ophthalmologists, see the physicians and surgeons profile. Dispensing opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses and, in some states, fill contact lens prescriptions that an optometrist or ophthalmologist has written.

How To Become an Optometrist

Optometrists must complete a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program and obtain a license to practice in a particular state. O.D. programs take 4 years to complete, and most students have a bachelor’s degree before entering such a program.

Education

Optometrists need an O.D. degree. In 2015, there were 23 accredited O.D. programs in the United States, one of which was in Puerto Rico.

Applicants to O.D. programs must have completed at least 3 years of postsecondary education. Required courses include those in biology or zoology, chemistry, physics, English, and math. Most students have a bachelor’s degree with a pre-medical or biological sciences emphasis before enrolling in an O.D. program.

Applicants to O.D. programs must also take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), a computerized exam that tests applicants in four subject areas: science, reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning.

O.D. programs take 4 years to complete. They combine classroom learning and supervised clinical experience. Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, optics, visual science, and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the visual system.

After finishing an O.D. degree, some optometrists complete a 1-year residency program to get advanced clinical training in the area in which they wish to specialize. Areas of specialization for residency programs include family practice, low vision rehabilitation, pediatric or geriatric optometry, and ocular disease, among others.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require optometrists to be licensed. To get a license, a prospective optometrist must have an O.D. degree from an accredited optometry school and must complete all sections of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam.

Some states require individuals to pass an additional clinical exam or an exam on laws relating to optometry. All states require optometrists to take continuing education classes and to renew their license periodically. The board of optometry in each state can provide information on licensing requirements.

Optometrists who wish to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge may choose to become certified by the American Board of Optometry.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Optometrists must be able to evaluate the results of a variety of diagnostic tests and decide on the best course of treatment for a patient.

Detail oriented. Optometrists must ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment and medications and that prescriptions are accurate. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Because they spend much of their time examining patients, optometrists must be able to help their patients feel at ease. Optometrists also must be able to communicate well with other healthcare professionals.

Speaking skills. Optometrists must be able to clearly explain eye care instructions to their patients, as well as answer patients’ questions.

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Average Salary
$231,509
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
10%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
2,795
Job Openings

Optometrist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Optometrist

Cashier
7.2 %

Top Careers After Optometrist

Optometrist Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for an Optometrist

Optometrists in America make an average salary of $231,509 per year or $111 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $395,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $135,000 per year.
Average Salary
$231,509
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Rochester, MN
Salary Range169k - 323k$234k$233,731
Appleton, WI
Salary Range159k - 306k$221k$220,861
Columbia, SC
Salary Range154k - 300k$216k$215,774
Colorado Springs, CO
Salary Range145k - 289k$206k$205,568
Chicago, IL
Salary Range146k - 282k$203k$203,243
Mesa, AZ
Salary Range139k - 281k$198k$197,947
$121k
$323k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Optometrist-Excellent PAY! Multispecialty Group!
Optometrist-Excellent PAY! Multispecialty Group!
Medical Associates Clinic
Medical Associates Clinic
05/31/2021
05/31/2021
$150,00005/31/2021
$150,000
Optometrist-Flexible Schedule)
Optometrist-Flexible Schedule)
Healthdrive Corporation
Healthdrive Corporation
05/27/2021
05/27/2021
$175,00005/27/2021
$175,000
Optometrist-Excellent PAY! Multispecialty Group!
Optometrist-Excellent PAY! Multispecialty Group!
Medical Associates Clinic
Medical Associates Clinic
05/26/2021
05/26/2021
$150,00005/26/2021
$150,000
Optometrist
Optometrist
Private Practice
Private Practice
05/26/2021
05/26/2021
$100,00005/26/2021
$100,000
Optometrist
Optometrist
Indian Health Service
Indian Health Service
05/26/2021
05/26/2021
$91,99705/26/2021
$91,997
See More Recent Salaries

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Optometrist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming an Optometrist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write an Optometrist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Optometrist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Optometrist Demographics

Gender

female

69.4 %

male

25.4 %

unknown

5.2 %

Ethnicity

White

74.8 %

Asian

15.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

5.9 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.3 %

Vietnamese

5.3 %

French

5.3 %
See More Demographics

Optometrist Education

Majors

Optometry
39.9 %
Biology
15.7 %

Degrees

Bachelors

30.1 %

Doctorate

21.9 %

Certificate

20.5 %

Top Colleges for Optometrists

1. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

2. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Optometrist That You May Like

Data Analytics and Visualization in Health Care
edX (Global)

Big data is transforming the health care industry relative to improving quality of care and reducing costs--key objectives for most organizations. Employers are desperately searching for professionals who have the ability to extract, analyze, and interpret data from patient health records, insurance claims, financial records, and more to tell a compelling and actionable story using health care data analytics. The course begins with a study of key components of the U.S. health care system as...

Certificate in End of Life Care
ed2go

(19 contact hours) The Certificate in End-of-Life Care will enhance the knowledge and skills of health care professionals and individuals who work with or care for those experiencing a terminal illness...

Palliative Care Always
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Palliative Care Always is a specialization for health care practitioners, patients and caregivers. We've designed this specialization to demonstrate how palliative medicine integrates with patient care, and to help you develop primary palliative care skills. Over the next five courses, you will develop skills in symptom management, goals of care and effective communication to improve the quality of life for patients and families suffering with serious illness. Our hope is that you feel increasin...

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Top Skills For an Optometrist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 32.9% of optometrists listed patient care on their resume, but soft skills such as speaking skills and detail oriented are important as well.

  • Patient Care, 32.9%
  • Diagnosis, 16.7%
  • Customer Service, 8.9%
  • Diagnostic Tests, 8.4%
  • Visual Acuity, 7.4%
  • Other Skills, 25.7%
  • See All Optometrist Skills

Best States For an Optometrist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an optometrist. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Vermont. Optometrists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $194,938. Whereas in Montana and North Dakota, they would average $190,122 and $189,076, respectively. While optometrists would only make an average of $188,972 in Vermont, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Optometrist Jobs:
14
Highest 10% Earn:
$280,000
Location Quotient:
1.38
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Wisconsin

Total Optometrist Jobs:
107
Highest 10% Earn:
$266,000
Location Quotient:
1.59
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Vermont

Total Optometrist Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$274,000
Location Quotient:
1.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Optometrist Employers

1. Indian Health Service
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$107,613
Optometrists Hired: 
74+
2. Walmart
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$158,534
Optometrists Hired: 
32+
3. Sears Holdings
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$166,964
Optometrists Hired: 
18+
4. Luxottica
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$128,968
Optometrists Hired: 
15+
5. America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$152,945
Optometrists Hired: 
12+
6. Nationwide Vision
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$241,021
Optometrists Hired: 
10+