Optometrist essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $97,820
- 2011, number of jobs: 29,180
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 33 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
Optometrists; what they do:
Most people would agree their eyesight is pretty handy, so hopefully they’re regularly seeing an optometrist. Optometrists help patients keep their eyes as healthy as possible and quickly diagnose and treat any eye disease, injury or disorder. Optometrist careers also include prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses.
A routine visit to the optometrists generally involves tests for near or farsightedness, as well as for any eye diseases, such as glaucoma. Some patients see optometrists for specific issues, such as vision therapy, low-vision rehabilitation, or pre- and postoperative care regarding eye surgery. An optometrist career also includes speaking with patients about general eye care and how to properly clean and store eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Optometrists may work in a group practice with other optometrists or doctors, teach or do research at optometry colleges, or work as consultants in the eye care industry. If an optometrist owns their own business, they may also spend a portion of their time performing general business activities such as hiring employees and ordering supplies.
Optometrists may specialize in family practice, primary eye care, pediatric optometry, geriatric optometry, vision therapy and rehabilitation, cornea and contact lenses, refractive and ocular surgery, low vision rehabilitation, ocular disease, or community health optometry.
Optometrists job titles:
- Doctor of Optometry (OD)
- Pediatric Optometrist
- Developmental Optometrist
Optometrists Education, Certification and License Requirements
An optometrist career begins with a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. People interested in an optometrist career must pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) before they can enroll in an OD program.
After completing the four-year OD program, some optometrists also participate in a one-year residency program for advanced clinical training in a specialty.
Optometrists programs cover subjects such as:
- Optics and visual science
- Diagnosis and treatment of disease and disorders of the visual system
Optometrists need a license to practice in any state. Obtaining a license for optometry includes graduating from an OD program at an accredited optometry school and completing all sections of the National Boards in Optometry. Some states require an additional exam. In many states optometrists must partake in continuing education classes to maintain their license.
Optometrists Job Outlook
Forecast: 33 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for optometrists, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, the high employment growth percentage only results in about 11,300 new jobs during this time frame.
The aging population increases the demand for optometrists. The number of people with chronic diseases affecting vision, such as diabetes, has also increased the demand for optometrists.
- 2011 median annual wage: $97,820
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $128,480
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $75,100
- Offices of optometrists
- Offices of physicians
- Health and personal care stores
- Outpatient care centers