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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.

Learn more about what an Optometrist does

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.

Optometrist Career Paths

Average Salary for an Optometrist

Optometrists in America make an average salary of $201,109 per year or $97 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $385,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $104,000 per year.
Average Optometrist Salary
$201,109 Yearly
$96.69 hourly
$104,000
10 %
$201,000
Median
$385,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Optometrist Education

Optometrist Majors

42.2 %
16.7 %

Optometrist Degrees

Bachelors

36.2 %

Doctorate

26.1 %

Associate

13.0 %

Top Colleges for Optometrists

1. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Private

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

2. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

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%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Optometrist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Optometrist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Optometrist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Optometrist Resume
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Optometrist Demographics

Optometrist Gender Distribution

Female
Female
74%
Male
Male
26%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among optometrists, 74.1% of them are women, while 25.9% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among optometrists is White, which makes up 75.0% of all optometrists.

  • The most common foreign language among optometrists is Spanish at 58.3%.

Online Courses For Optometrist That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
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...

Essentials of Palliative Care
coursera

This course starts you on your journey of integrating primary palliative care into your daily lives. You will learn what palliative care is, how to communicate with patients, show empathy, and practice difficult conversations. You will learn how to screen for distress and provide psychosocial support. You will learn about goals of care and advance care planning and how to improve your success with having these conversations with patients. Finally, you will explore important cultural consideratio...

Value-Based Care: Introduction to Value-Based Care and the U.S. Healthcare System
coursera

COURSE 1 of 7. This course is designed to introduce you to the concept of value-based care (VBC). While the information you will explore is general, it will help you establish a solid foundation for continued learning and future thinking about the concept of VBC. Through a historical lens, you will explore the creation of Medicare and Medicaid and the evolution of commercial insurance, TRICARE, and the Veterans Health Administration. While history is an important filter for understanding healthc...

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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, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Vermont. Optometrists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $213,633. Whereas in North Dakota and Minnesota, they would average $213,629 and $202,663, respectively. While optometrists would only make an average of $195,986 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. West Virginia

Total Optometrist Jobs:
40
Highest 10% Earn:
$272,000
Location Quotient:
2.16 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. Alaska

Total Optometrist Jobs:
14
Highest 10% Earn:
$276,000
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

3. Nebraska

Total Optometrist Jobs:
39
Highest 10% Earn:
$271,000
Location Quotient:
1.44 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
Full List Of Best States For Optometrists

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Top Optometrist Employers

Most Common Employers For Optometrist

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Warby Parker$239,061$114.937
2The LASIK Vision Institute$237,966$114.4110
3Omni Eye Specialists$237,392$114.1310
4SVS Vision$212,914$102.367
5Pearle Vision$201,109$96.6935
6MyEyeDr$201,109$96.6925
7Visionworks$201,109$96.6924
8Eye to Eye$201,109$96.6913
9Hero Practice Services$201,109$96.698
10Optica$197,003$94.7110