Home Jobs & Education What is the Average Optometrist Salary?

Known in the United States as doctors of optometry and outside North America as ophthalmic opticians, optometrists’ basic occupation revolves around examining eyes and treating visual impairment. But, what is the average optometrist salary? We explore the figures in our post.

Average Optometrist Salary

The average optometrist salary in the US falls between $25.13 and $66.85 per hour. On average, the annual wage for optometrists typically exceeds $100,000 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their cash earnings range from $71,000 to $134,000. Bonuses, commissions and profit sharing approach a few more thousands of dollars.

If you wonder what is the starting salary for optometrists, figures show that doctors of optometry typically earn between $69,829 and $91,288 at the beginning of their career.

average optometrist salary

Find out the specifications for an optometrist salary

The most important aspects that influence an optometrist salary are whether he or she works in a public hospital or a private clinic, and the geographical location of such establishments. Check the last section of this article to see employment data of optometrists by state as for May 2014.

What Does an Optometrist Do?

Optometrists perform a healthcare profession concerning the eyes. Their job is much more complex than prescribing glasses and contact lenses. They are specialized professionals who are trained to examine, diagnose and treat diseases and conditions of the visual system.

Their job is not easy as they work with a variety of patients ranging from children to elder people and they have to find the treatment that best suits specific problems. Working inside a hospital or a clinic they also have to interact and effectively communicate with nurses, assistants and technicians as to provide best care for the people they treat. Optometrists also work in centers such as Walmart Vision Centers.

What Are the Main Duties of an Optometrist?

Optometrists are physicians who have to fulfill the following tasks:

  • Examine patients with eye defects and visual diseases
  • Conduct tests to identify visual disorders
  • Interview patients
  • Evaluate test results
  • Diagnose problems and impairments of the human eye
  • Prescribe forms of treatment and medications (oral, topical or injectable) and therapy to correct low vision or other eyes disorders
  • Treat and correct eye conditions

Optometrists Job Requirements:

If you consider becoming an optometrist, please take into account the following optometrists job requirements:

Education &Training

  • In order to become an optometrist you are required to be a high school and college graduate and to complete a four-year postgraduate program.
  • This degree includes courses and clinical training in physiological and ophthalmic optics, ocular anatomy, ocular disease and pharmacology, neurophysiology of the vision system, design and modification of the visual environment, vision performance and vision screening, among others.
  • To earn a doctor of optometry title you also have to know about human anatomy, systemic diseases, and other general medical courses, such as general pathology, microbiology, biochemistry and statistics.


After completing your four-year degree you are a doctor of optometry, but to practice you need to:

  • Pass a national examination administered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry  (the exam has three parts including basic science, clinical science and patient care).
  • Fulfill continuing trainings to stay connected to the latest standards in medical care


 You can choose to go on to complete residencies with training in specific sub-specialty such as pediatric eye care, neuro-optometry or specialty contact lens. This will take you another year or two.

Work Hours

Like the majority of physicians, full time optometrists work between 37 and 40 hours per week, each day from 9.00 am until 5.30. They usually work five days a week, with the probability of working during weekends as well.

What Other Optometrists Benefits are Out There?

US optometrists earn in average $96,000, but their income can stretch to $130,000 as there are packages that include bonuses and commissions approaching $39,000 annually. The factors that affect the cash earnings of this group of doctors are, as mentioned, the city they work in and the type of legal authority hiring them (public, private).

According to a salary survey made by PayScale, just under a third of respondents optometrists benefits do not include health benefits. More than 50% receive medical coverage, and over 30% have dental insurance too. Most optometrists providing data for this survey are satisfied with their job.

Wage Estimates for Optometrists by State

According to Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates completed by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2014 with data collected from a national survey of employers, the highest employment levels for this occupation are located in California, New York, Illinois, Texas and Florida, with annual mean salaries ranging from $98,970 to $111,620.

The highest annual wage estimates for optometrists by state are paid in the following states: Alaska, Connecticut, Oklahoma, New Mexico and North Dakota, with average wages ranging from $130,380 to $178,640.

Among metropolitan areas with highest concentrations of jobs for optometrists are Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. As regards the non-metropolitan areas with highest employment in this occupation, Kansas takes first place.

If Alaska is the top paying state for this profession, among top paying metropolitan areas are Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville, FL, Salisbury, MD and Glens Falls, NY. An optometrist in Salisbury, MD, for instance, can earn an annual wage of $203,980, more than double as compared to a doctor of optometry in Billings, MT, where the average annual salary reaches $88,230.

Summary of Key Employment and Wage Estimates by States

State Employment per thousand jobs Annual average salary
California 0.28 $111,620
New York 0.29 $130,350
Illinois 0.28 $92,360
Texas 0.17 $120,460
Florida 0.24 $98,970
Hawaii 0.49 $102,070
North Dakota 0.37 $130,380
Alaska 0.17 $178,640
Connecticut 0.17 $169,380
Oklahoma 0.32 $146,330
New Mexico 0.22 $142,900

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas:


Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville, FL $241,570
Salisbury, MD $230,980
Hartford-West  Hartford-East  Hartford, CT $201,230
Anchorage, AK $187,310
Lincoln, NE $186,450
Fayetteville, NC $185,070
Bellingham, WA $184,790
Amarillo, TX $177,180
Oklahoma City, OK $176,260
Houma – Bayou Cane – Thibodaux, LA $174,640

For more detailed information on estimated employment and wage fact for this profession please access the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website.

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Erika Schwartz

Dear reader, my name is Erika and I am an actress, arts teacher and film analyst. I studied theatre and film for over four years, and changed more than 15 part-time jobs. What can I say? It is a tough industry. I love dance, especially tango, music, and basically anything art-related. I also enjoy writing about the captivating and dynamic world of entertainment. When I work, I seek the perfect balance between usefulness and beauty. I like to describe myself as the most optimistic person alive.


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