Career Development

Optometrist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Optometrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision problems. They prescribe corrective lenses for patients who need them, administer eye exams, and provide care to patients with diseases or injuries of the eyes.

Optometrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision problems. They prescribe corrective lenses for patients who need them, administer eye exams, and provide care to patients with diseases or injuries of the eyes.

The practice of optometry is an old one—it’s been around since the late 1700s! That said, it’s evolved a lot over the years. It was only in the last seventy years or so that it evolved from a manual craft to a scientific one. Today, optometrists are highly trained medical professionals with extensive education and are frequently involved in cutting-edge research to further our understanding of vision and how best to treat eye problems.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be an optometrist and what it takes to become one yourself.

Optometrist Job Duties

The duties of optometrists include the following:

  • Performing eye exams to determine visual acuity and detect any abnormalities
  • Providing treatment to patients with vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness by prescribing glasses or contact lenses as needed
  • Evaluating growth rates of children’s eyes during regular visits to detect changes that may indicate an eye problem developing in the future
  • Diagnosing and treating ocular disease such as glaucoma, cataracts, and conjunctivitis
  • Sterilizing equipment and disposing of biohazardous waste materials such as syringes or used tissues
  • Administering medications and injections to treat eye disease, including antibiotics and steroids
  • Teaching students in programs such as nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or physician assistant studies on topics related to vision health
  • Participating in continuing education classes to keep abreast of new advances in areas related to eye care

Optometrist Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for optometrists is $135,895. Those earning higher wages tend to work in private practices and the highest earners are making over $188,000 per year.

The employment of optometrists is expected to grow slightly faster than average over the next decade. As people age, their eyes become more susceptible to vision problems, which will increase the need for eye care professionals.

Optometrist Job Requirements

Optometrists must complete several years of training and education to work in the role.

Education: Optometrists must have a medical degree. They can earn this degree through an accredited graduate program or optometry school. An advanced degree provides candidates with advanced instruction in areas like therapeutics, vision science, biochemistry and anatomy. Some schools have an integrated curriculum, where candidates can earn their bachelor’s degree while completing their first year of optometry school.

Training: Most optometrists complete internship hours before they are allowed to begin practicing independently. Internship requirements vary from state to state, but most require between 1,200 and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. 

Certifications & Licenses: To become eligible for licensing as an optometrist, candidates must first pass both parts of their National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO). Once they have met these qualifications, they must submit applications to state boards that oversee licensing laws for optometrists. Their applications will include information about their academic credentials as well as proof that they passed all parts of the NBEO exam.

Optometrist Skills

The following skills are required for this job:

Critical thinking: A good optometrist must be able to think critically in order to assess a patient’s vision problems and determine the best course of treatment.

Problem-solving skills: An optometrist must have excellent problem-solving skills in order to solve any problems that may arise during a routine eye exam or fitting. They also must be able to identify appropriate solutions. 

Communication skills: Optometrists must possess strong communication skills, both verbal and written, so that they can effectively explain their findings to patients.

Patience: Optometry requires great patience, as optometrists spends most of their day interacting with patients who have questions about their vision. In addition, they must spend time writing reports and having phone conversations with patients’ families and other medical professionals.

Physical stamina: Optometry is a physically demanding job that requires long hours and hard work. An optometrist should be able to stand on his or her feet for long periods of time without getting tired. He or she should also be able to lift heavy equipment and tools, climb ladders, and move around a lot throughout the day.

Neatness: An optometrist must be organized and meticulous in order to keep his or her office running smoothly. They must also use cleanliness and keep tools and equipment sanitized. 

Optometrist Work Environment

An optometrist can usually choose where he or she works, from private practices to hospitals to research centers. Many optometrists are self-employed. Optometrists spend most of their work day in an office with other optometrists, technicians, and assistants.

They usually work regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Some optometrists may have to work on the weekends or evenings when they have scheduled appointments with patients. The job can be stressful because doctors have to deal with the lives of their patients, who may have many questions and concerns about their vision problems.

Optometrist Career Advancement

Optometrists are given the opportunity to advance their careers through specialization, management, and research positions. Specialization allows optometrists to grow their technical knowledge and expertise in a specific area. This specialization can be accomplished through experience and continuing education.

Optometrists who want to advance their careers may choose to become a practice manager and oversee day-to-day operations and staff. This role allows an optometrist to focus on the long-term vision, grow their administrative skills, and delegate tasks appropriately.

Optometrist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how Optometrists work. Optometrists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Vision Loss Among the Elderly

The need for optometrists is expected to grow as baby boomers age and require additional assistance with vision loss.

The number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to increase by almost 50% between 2015 and 2030, creating a huge opportunity for optometrists who can help this demographic improve their quality of life. 

Online Doctor Reviews

Online doctor reviews are becoming increasingly important for professionals in all fields, including optometrists.

As more people look to online doctor reviews to make purchasing decisions, the quality of these reviews can be crucial for an optometrist’s business success. 

The better the ratings and reviews, the more patients will seek out this doctor in particular, which can help generate increased revenue. 

A Growing Focus on Lifestyle

As more optometrists begin to view their role as one that extends beyond simply prescribing glasses, they are becoming increasingly interested in providing customers with a wide range of health and lifestyle information that will help them to live healthier lives.

Many optometrists now focus on identifying lifestyle risks, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, in order to reduce the risk of vision loss down the road. 

How to Become a Optometrist

1. Planning Your Career Path

If you’re thinking about a career as an optometrist, it’s important to note that this is a highly competitive field with lots of requirements and high costs. Additionally, there are several specialized areas within the profession, each of which has its own set of challenges. If you are passionate about working with eyes or if you’re drawn to other benefits associated with this position (e.g., regular hours, ability to work independently), then optometry may be right for you.

2. Writing a Resume

The best optometrist resumes highlight not only training but also experience with the latest technologies and knowledge of the latest best practices. These are skills that are highly sought after, so you will want to include these in your resume.

You should also list your skills and licensure so that employers can see how you have worked toward becoming a licensed optometrist. Discussing any certifications you have received is a great way to demonstrate your dedication to continuing education and remaining up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry.

3. Applying for Jobs

In order to find a job as an optometrist, you’ll need to become very familiar with the profession. Optometry is a fairly small field, and those working in it tend to be well-connected within the industry. Volunteer at a local clinic or hospital, shadow other doctors, and network as much as possible.

If you don’t have any personal connections, consider writing a blog about your experiences and insights into the field; many hiring managers look for candidates who are active online.

4. Ace the Interview

If you are interviewing for optometrist position, you will want to convey your interest in the field and the specific practice where the job is located. You will also want to display a level of enthusiasm about helping people solve their vision problems.

Be prepared to discuss your educational background and the types of experiences you have had that lead you to be a good fit for this particular position. Because optometry is a growing field, it is very likely that your interviewer will ask about what subjects you find most interesting, as well as what future technology could mean for the profession.

When it is your turn, ask questions about what the practice’s philosophy is when it comes to patient treatment. This is an opportunity for you to really get a sense of how compatible you are with this prospective employer.


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