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Optometry Jobs and Employment Outlook

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  • Employment Outlook

    Employment growth for optometrists is expected to grow at about an average pace. The demand for eye care should increase as baby boomers age. With the increased aging comes the need for treatment of cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, presbyopia, and other age related eye disorders.

    In addition, the increased use of technology in the average optometric practice should improve productivity allowing clinics to see more patients. The rise of personal income and the better understanding of the importance of eye care are also viewed as positive indicators for the growth of the industry. Opticians and ophthalmologists should also see an increase in available jobs, with ophthalmologists out pacing both optometrist and opticians.

    Licensing and Training

    All states require licensing for Optometrists. In order to be eligible to receive a license, applicants must have attended an accredited optometry school. Then applicants must pass a written and clinical state board examination. Most states require the license be renewed every one to three years. All states also require continuing education to ensure proficiency in clinical matters.

    To become an OD one must complete four years of schooling at an accredited school. Most students enrolled at an optometry school have a four year undergraduate degree, however some optometry schools do not require it for admission. There are seventeen accredited schools in the U.S.

    The typical curriculum includes classroom and laboratory study of general health and visual sciences. There is also clinical work to understand, diagnosis, and treat eye disorders and diseases. General courses include biochemistry, vision sciences, pharmacology, optics, and health system diseases.

    For the independent doctor a good business sense certain is helpful to develop a successful practice.

    For those wishing to teach or do research masters degrees or Ph.D. in visual science, neurophysiology, physiological optics, or other health or administrative work must be done.

    Optometrists can specialize in pediatric optometry, geriatric optometry, vision therapy, contact lenses, hospital based eye care, primary care, or ocular diseases, etc.

    Pay

    The median earnings (annualized) of optometrists in 2000 was $82,860. With 50 percent earning between $60,000 and $111,000. In clinics with medical doctors or other types of health practitioners the salary median was $89,000. Typically, salaried optometrists earn more initially but in the long run OD's that setup their own independent practice earn more over their life time.

    The American Optometric Association (AOA) lists the median net income for optometrists in private practice between $115,000 to $120,000 (2000).

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    Information was gathered from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004.

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