optometrist salary

Optometrist Salary: How Much Do Optometrists Earn?

Are you interested in pursuing a career as an optometrist? One important aspect to consider when choosing a profession is the potential salary. In this article, we will explore the average optometrist salary in the United States and discuss the factors that can affect earning potential in this field.

What is an Optometrist?

Before delving into the salary details, let’s first understand what an optometrist does. An optometrist is a healthcare professional who specializes in examining, diagnosing, and treating conditions related to vision and eye health. They perform comprehensive eye exams, prescribe corrective lenses, and provide preventive care to maintain optimal eye health.

optometrist salary

Average Optometrist Salary

The average optometrist salary varies depending on multiple factors such as experience, location, and setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for optometrists in the United States is around $115,250, as of May 2020. This means that half of all optometrists earn more than this amount, while the other half earn less.

However, it is important to note that this is just an average figure and individual salaries can vary significantly. Factors such as specialization, additional certifications, and tenure can have a substantial impact on an optometrist’s earning potential.

Factors Influencing Optometrist Salary

Various factors contribute to the wide range of salaries within the field of optometry. These factors include:

1. Experience and Tenure

As with most professions, an optometrist’s salary tends to increase with experience and tenure. Newly graduated optometrists may start at a lower salary compared to those who have been practicing for several years. With time, as they gain expertise and build a reputation, optometrists can expect to earn higher salaries.

2. Geographic Location

The geographical location also plays a significant role in determining an optometrist’s salary. Areas with a high cost of living or limited access to eye care services may offer higher salaries to attract professionals. Generally, metropolitan areas tend to have higher compensation than rural or underserved areas.

3. Type of Practice

The type of practice can greatly impact an optometrist’s earnings. There are various settings where optometrists can work, including private practices, hospitals, clinics, and retail optical establishments. Each setting may offer different salary structures and benefits.

For instance, optometrists who establish their own successful private practices have the potential to earn higher incomes compared to those working as employees in larger healthcare organizations. However, private practice ownership also comes with additional responsibilities and risks.

4. Specialization and Additional Certifications

Optometrists who choose to specialize in a particular area of eye care, such as pediatric optometry or geriatric optometry, may have enhanced earning prospects. Specialization often requires additional education, training, and certifications, which can lead to higher salaries and increased market demand.

Salary Comparison: Optometry vs. Other Healthcare Professions

When considering a career as an optometrist, it is useful to compare the salary potential with other healthcare professions. While optometrists enjoy competitive salaries, it is important to note that the duration and cost of education required to become an optometrist may differ from other healthcare careers.

For instance, optometrists generally require a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree, which typically takes four years beyond undergraduate studies. Comparatively, medical doctors may need to complete several more years of education, residency programs, and licensing exams.


The average optometrist salary in the United States is substantial, with room for growth and potential for higher earnings based on various factors. Remember that the figures mentioned in this article are averages and individual salaries can differ. Consider the factors influencing salary, such as experience, location, practice setting, and specialization, as you explore a career in optometry and plan for your professional future.

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