The average optometrist salary is approximately $107,000. Densely populated areas and areas in which optometrists are in short supply pay more while other areas pay less. According to the Doctor’s Exchange of Washington, a fresh Optometrist starts at a salary of $90,000/year but other surveys indicate that fresh graduates also start their career at $50,000/year in areas where the supply of optometrists outpaces their demand. Louisiana pays the highest rate per hour while Puerto Rico hourly pays are the lowest.
Defining The Optometrist’s Career
A Doctor of Optometry is referred to as an optometrist. He is a healthcare professional who specializes in treating conditions related to the eye, the visual system, and everything connected to it. An optometrist can examine, diagnose and treat eye diseases, injuries, conditions and disorders.
Once upon a time an optometrist was considered as a professional who prescribed and fitted glasses and lenses. Today, all that has changed. Today’s optometrist is a primary care provider for visual care. He treats corneal injuries, ulcers, infections and any other eye diseases that can be treated by pharmaceutical means, visual problems, and poor vision conditions. He can provide pre- and post-surgical care and administer laser treatment. Optometrists also refer the patient to surgeons and order tests. They can even manage diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
The eyes are our windows to the world. A life without eyesight is joyless. Eyes are delicate, sensitive and important to every human. And, eyes require skilled care. This is why the optometrist salary is so high.
Optometrist Job Outlook
Human eyes are all over the place. When they are not working on the computer, they are watching the TV; when they are not viewing TV, they are playing games on their mobile or portables, or reading, or whatever. Humans want to eyeball everything except when they sleep and dream in Technicolor. All this eye exposure is not healthy and that is why our nation’s eyesight is weakening. Plus, Americans are aging and the life expectancy is going up. As people age, their eyesight weakens and they need care. Moreover, employers are now sponsoring eye care as well. Medicare also covers optometry. States are also busy expanding the optometrist’s scope of practice. These factors will continue to maintain and spur a robust demand for optometrists in the next decade.
Optometrists are the only type of healthcare professionals who do not have to work overtime or in graveyard shifts. Their working conditions are neat and hygienic and they don’t have to rush to attend many emergency calls.
The biggest problem with the profession is that the number of optometry schools is sparse and these schools feature a heavily-restricted class size. According to federal data, the demand for optometrists will grow at 24% till 2018. The optometrist salary will rise in proportion depending on skill-level and experience.
Optometrists do not retire easily. Many optometrists practice on a part-time basis even after retirement. This is evidence enough that the profession is very satisfying, rewarding and easy.
The Practicing Optometrist
An optometrist can start his private practice and choose to specialize in pediatrics, contact lenses, vision therapy or geriatrics. He can enter into a partnership or start a group practice. Group practice is very popular – an optometrist joins hands with other optometrists specializing in different areas and the group gets together and offers their all-inclusive vision health services under one roof. Such group practices are typically contracted by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO).
An optometrist can also rent space in a retail outlet and practice independently. He can join hands with an ophthalmologist, practice in a hospital, act as a consultant to a corporate, and more. The practicing optometrist earns much more than the average optometrist salary. Practicing optometrists with more than 15 years of experience can easily make $175,000/year. A startup optometrist typically earns $105,000/year while working at his own pace.
Optometrists and Technology
One of the reasons why the optometrist salary is high is because an optometrist now works on very sophisticated equipment and caters to a very huge market. More and more people are switching over to contact lenses and lenses technology is getting better by the day. Optometrists use lasers to treat eye diseases and to correct conditions like near-sightedness and far-sightedness. Once upon a time, these conditions could only be rectified by wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Areas of Specialization
An optometrist can choose to specialize in treating infants (0-4 years), children, elderly (geriatrics), contact lenses, cornea conditions, vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, head trauma, binocular vision, ocular testing or occupational vision.
The optometrist salary is high, the profession’s work hours are regular, and the work is soul satisfying. This is why even retired optometrists choose to continue practice even after retirement. Optometrists enjoy a comfortable lifestyle as they go around making America a breathtakingly visual feast. Remember, optometrists are for your eyes only.