Although not medical doctors, optometrists follow a similar educational course. A bachelor’s degree is not necessarily required, but you will need at least three years of post-secondary education in order to apply for the mandatory four-year doctor of optometry (OD) program. In addition, some optometrists choose to complete a one-year residency to gain clinical experience. You must also be licensed in all states.
Most optometrists have a bachelor’s degree, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the minimum requirement is three years of post-secondary education that includes courses in biology, chemistry, physics, English and math. You must pass the Optometry Admission Test before you can apply to an optometry program. After acceptance in a doctor of optometry program, you must complete coursework in anatomy, physiology, optics, visual science and the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and disorders.
Residency, Licensing and Certification
Although a residency is not required for optometry, it offers advanced clinical training in areas such as family practice, pediatric or geriatric optometry and ocular disease. You must also pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam, and in some states you must pass an additional clinical exam or an exam on law. Certification for optometrists is optional, but available from the American Board of Optometry.
2016 Salary Information for Optometrists
Optometrists earned a median annual salary of $106,130 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, optometrists earned a 25th percentile salary of $81,480, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $135,180, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 40,200 people were employed in the U.S. as optometrists.