A career path that leads towards financial success and a life of stability can be attained by becoming a professional optometrist. This is a critical area of service as a large portion of the population now wears some kind of corrective lenses. That means that those who provide professional vision care enjoy a career filled with personal and financial rewards. Making the choice to become an optometrist is one that can lead to a very bright future.
Optometrists are referred to as doctors of optometry (DO), although they are not required to go to medical school. The main job function of an optometrist is to provide specialized vision care. That includes conducting eye examinations and prescribing corrective lenses. Optometrists also identify eye conditions that include nearsightedness, farsightedness, lazy eye, and astigmatism.
In the process of conducting examinations, optometrists are also responsible for diagnosing any diseases or deficiencies in the eye. Optometrists can then prescribe certain medications to fix those problems. However, prescribing medication is allowed in certain states as specified by the terms of that state’s particular optometry license.
In addition to proscribing contact lenses and eyeglasses, optometrists can also prescribe vision aids as well as different kinds of vision therapy. Optometrists are not licensed to perform eye surgery, although they can provide care before and after an operation to assist in a proper recovery.
Optometrists routinely consult with patients and recommend the proper course of action to take, which is based on years of specialized training. Optometrists work in private practices, eyewear retail stores, select department stores that provide vision care, and numerous types of health care facilities. The demand continues to grow, which has made the field of optometry a rather competitive one.
Optometrists adhere to strict medical standards and maintain a high level of professionalism at all times. There is an obligation to practice optometry with conscientiousness and competence as stated in the oath optometrists must take before entering into this profession.
EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME AN OPTOMETRIST
Individuals who are looking to pursue an education as an optometrist must first acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. That four-year degree should be in a field that is related to optometry, such as biology or physiology. Once a Bachelor’s Degree is earned, candidates are then eligible to apply for admission to an optometry program. Many of those optometry programs throughout the country are very selective when accepting applicants, so it is beneficial to earn exemplary grades when going through an undergraduate program. Many times a candidate, who registered average grades on the way to earning a Bachelor’s Degree, will be denied admission to an optometry program.
OPTOMETRY STATE LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
Each state entrusts its own Optometry Board with the licensing of its optometrists. Those state boards fall under the umbrella of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry. Each state requires candidates to pass three parts of a comprehensive examination. These examinations are graded on a pass/fail basis, although each state has the authority to accept scores of 75 or better on certain parts of the examination.
There are also additional parts to these examinations, which differ according to state. Those additional parts include written, legal and oral examinations. There are some states that add on practical examinations as well as seminar portions. The testing to obtain licensing is rather extensive and prospective optometrists should check the requirements for their particular state and then proceed accordingly.
License renewals are also required and the time frame for that differs on a state to state basis. A failure to follow each state’s minimum requirements as a practicing optometrist will result in a revocation of that license.
OPTOMETRIST JOB PROSPECTS AND POTENTIAL PAY
In the United States, optometrists make an average salary of $115,750 annually. The average wage for an optometrist is $55.65 per hour. Connecticut and Alaska offer the highest salaries for optometrists as both check in with an average that is just over $180,000 per year. Some areas in select states also report optometrists, making more than $200,000 annually. There is a steady 2.5% national increase in optometrist job growth and that kind of increase is expected to continue. In the next 10 years, an increase in jobs is expected to exceed 25%.
The National Board of Optometry provides the requirements for licensing in each state, and this website provides a comprehensive rundown of all that information.
Here is a look at how much optometrists make on a state by state basis, and there are additional statistics that showcase how lucrative this profession can be.
This association represents more than 44,000 doctors nationwide and provides a wealth of useful resources on its website.
Browse through all the optometrist job openings on LinkedIn and also make use of the option to search for job openings by state.
Stay updated on all the latest industry news provided by Optometry Times as there is a plentiful amount of industry information on this website.