The average salary of optometrist in US is $101,410.
Optometrists are commonly referred to as “eye doctors”. They provide visual eye exams to patients for corrective eyewear, and also exam other parts of the visual system. An optometrist’s primary responsibilities include the diagnosing, treatment and management of vision-related issues, diseases, injuries and disorders. When necessary, they prescribe contact lenses or eyeglasses. Those who are considering entering this occupation will be happy to learn that the median optometrist salary is above the national average.
Median optometry salary
- $101,410 per year
- $48.76 per hour
Not to be confused with the average salary, median salary is the amount of money optometrists in the 50th percentile earn. This equates to $101,410 per year ($48.76 per hour).
Salary range for middle 50% of optometrists
- $37.50 – $63.74 per hour
The salary range for the middle 50% of professionals in this field provides a more accurate estimate of how much most optometrists will earn. To calculate this, the bottom and top 25% of earners are eliminated, leaving the salary range of $78,000-$132,580 per year ($37.50-$63.74 per hour).
Lowest and highest salary
- Lowest – $52,270 ($25.13/hour)
- Highest – $187,199 ($90/hour)
Optometrists with little to no experience will earn the lowest salaries. Those in the bottom 10th percentile will make $52,270 a year ($25.13 an hour). After gaining years of experience or choosing to specialize in one particular branch of the occupation, optometrists can earn as much as $187,199 per year, or $90 an hour.
The total salary package
An optometrist’s compensation includes more than just a base salary. Bonuses and benefits can boost this occupation’s annual earnings. Benefits may include health insurance, paid time off, retirement benefits, pension plans, Social Security and disability. The total salary package for an optometrist is approximately $161,408 per year.
Cities with the highest paid optometrists
- Optometrists in Palm Bay, Florida make $241,570 a year.
- Optometrists in Salisbury, Maryland earn $203,980 annually.
- Optometrists in Harford, Connecticut earn $201,230 each year.
- Optometrists in Anchorage, Alaska make $187,310 per year on average.
States with the highest paid optometrists
- Alaska at $178,640 a year.
- Connecticut at $169,380 per year.
- Oklahoma at $146,330 a year.
- New Mexico at $142,900 per year.
- North Dakota at $130,380 a year.
Factors affecting optometrist salaries
How is an optometrist’s salary calculated? Experience, location and industry are just a few of the many factors that will determine how much an optometrist earns.
Generally, the more experience an optometrist has, the more he or she will earn. Those who have 10 years or more of experience will see the highest earnings.
Location is another factor that affects an optometrist’s earnings. Interestingly, the highest paying states don’t necessarily have the highest cost of living, which is often the case with most occupations. The highest paid optometrists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work in Alaska, Connecticut, Oklahoma, New Mexico and North Dakota.
Generally, optometrists either run their own practice, or are employed in a health or personal care store. These are the highest paying industries, and the industries with the highest level of employment. The Federal Executive Branch is also a major employer of optometrists, but those who enter this industry will earn a salary that is significantly below average.
Training and certification requirements for optometrists
Optometrists must complete many years of training before they can start practicing. A doctoral degree must be earned, and a state license must be obtained.
The optometry career begins with an undergraduate degree; preferably in a field related to optometry. Next, a post-graduate program must be completed, and a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree must be earned.
There are 17 accredited Doctor of Optometry programs in the U.S. These programs typically take 4 years to complete. Applicants must have completed at least 3 years of postsecondary education, which includes physics, biology, chemistry, math and English. The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) must also be taken in order to apply. The OAT exam tests applicants in four key areas: reading comprehension, science, quantitative reasoning and physics.
O.D. programs provide a combination of supervised clinical experience and classroom learning. Classes will include biochemistry, anatomy, visual science, physiology and optics, among others.
Once a student has completed an O.D. program, they may go on to complete a one-year residency program to obtain advanced clinical training in certain areas, such as low vision care, family practice, ocular disease, and pediatric or geriatric care to name a few.
The final step is to obtain a state license. To be eligible for a license, prospective optometrists must have completed an O.D. program and completed all sections of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.
License requirements will vary by state. Some states will also require the completion of a clinical or law exam. All states will require licensed optometrists to take continuing education courses and renew their license from time to time. Optometrists can also become certified by the American Board of Optometry, although it is not required for licensing.
International Optometry Salaries
£25,000 – £60,000 in the U.K.
C$80,000 – C$140,000 in Canada
AU$49,701 – AU$108,469 in Australia