An optometrist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems. This CareerStint article presents information on the earning potential of an optometrist.
Optometry is derived from the Greek words ‘optos’ meaning vision and ‘metria’ meaning measurement. The work settings of an optometrist are varied, with employment available in schools, hospitals, and clinics. The American Optometric Association (AOA) is the authoritative body of this profession. The salary of an optometrist depends on the size of the organization one is working for and the work setting. About a quarter of optometrists are self-employed, and most of them have an annual income that is very envious. Most of them have their own private practice or work in partnership with other healthcare professionals.
The annual salary differs from state to state. In Texas, the salary figures can be in the range of US $66,212 – $131,778. In New York, the salary figures can be in the range of $81,697 – $149,630, and in Chicago, $83,526 – $128,110.
The starting salary of an optometrist in the healthcare industry, who has just finished school, can be around $62,486 – $112,280. It may vary depending on various factors like level of education, type of the employing industry, company size, and location.
* Source: PayScale
The average salary of an optometrist is around $101,410 annually. People having their own practice make considerably more than their salaried counterparts.
The salary also depends on the number of years of experience an individual has and the type of the organization one is working for. Around 10 percent of optometrists earn a salary which is higher than $184,530 annually. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,590.
The offices of health practitioners recruited highest number of optometrists (19,550), followed by the offices of physicians (6,110), health and personal care stores (4,660), outpatient care centers (730), and federal executive branch (440).
Alaska was the highest paying state, with the annual mean wage of $178,640.
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, (IL) Metropolitan Division was the metropolitan area with the highest employment level in this occupation (annual mean wage was USD 90,320).
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, (FL), was the top-paying metropolitan area for this occupation with annual mean wage of $241,570.
States with the highest employment level in this occupation were California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida.
* Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics
Optometrists, referred to as doctors of optometry (ODs), are skilled in testing for defects of vision to prescribe corrective glasses. One needs to complete a 3-year degree program to enroll in an optometry school. To earn the Doctor of Optometry Degree, a 4-year course in optometry from a school recognized by the AOA is required. Students often do a one-year residency to develop a specialty. Students with such work experience are likely to get a higher salary at the entry level.
There are around 19 optometry colleges and schools that are accredited by the accreditation council of the AOA. The courses necessary for admission to most optometry schools include mathematics, chemistry, biology, and English at the college level. If you major in a science subject like chemistry or biology, you stand a better chance of getting into a good optometry school.
The competition is very tough for getting admission into an optometry school. All applicants have to give the Optometrist Admission Test, a standardized test, to assess the scientific and academic skills of the applicants. The admission requirements may vary for different colleges, so an applicant is required to check the admission criteria of the college he is applying to.
You need to have a license to practice as an optometrist in all the states and regions of the United States. You have to pass a written and clinical exam of the National Board to acquire a license. Renewal of the license is also required every 1 – 3 years.
These health professionals play a pivotal role in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders in patients. They examine the patients’ eyes and diagnose vision problems. Influencing the patients to go for regular eye checkups is also an integral part of the job description. Pre- and post-operative care is also provided by optometrists to patients who have had a cataract surgery. Optometrists also provide vision therapy, conduct tests for eye diseases like glaucoma, and promote hygiene education to their patients.
They also prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses to help patients correct vision problems like short sightedness and long sightedness. They also prescribe drugs and medication to treat eye problems, and might also refer patients to other healthcare professionals, if required.
The salary of optometrists is predicted to show a steady rise because of the inclusion of vision care in a number of insurance plans. As humans are living longer than ever, and as the number of senior citizens is increasing rapidly, there is a significant increase in the number of people having vision problems. The job prospect for optometrists is also quite good, due to the general growth in the healthcare industry.