What They Do:

Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases, injuries and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and the associated structures of the eye. They also identify related systematic conditions affecting the eye.


  • Completed preprofessional undergraduate education in a college or university.

  • Four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to a doctor of optometry (OD) degree.

  • Some optometrists will complete a residency in a specific area of practice.

  • Obtain a state license. Applicants for a license must have an OD degree from an accredited optometry school and must pass a written national board examination and a national or state clinical board examination. Many states also require applicants to pass an examination on relevant state laws.

  • Renew state licenses every 1-3 years, with continuing education credits required for renewal in all state.  

What They Make:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the 2019 median annual wage was $115,140 per year.

Where They Work:

  • Most optometrists are in general practice, either in private practice or in franchise optical stores.

  • Some optometrists specialize in work with the elderly, children or partially sighted people who need specialized visual devices.

  • Optometrists can develop and implement ways to protect workers’ eyes from on-the-job strain or injury.

  • Some optometrists specialize in contact lenses, low vision, sports vision, or vision therapy.

  • Optometrists can teach optometry, perform research or consult.

Career Outlook:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of optometrists is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, as fast as the average for all occupations. Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Optometrists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm (visited December 2020).

Updated December 2020