Pupillary Pathways

How Much Do You Make as an Optometrist?

Posted by Amanda Dexter on Dec 22, 2016 11:15:02 AM
Amanda Dexter
Dr. Amanda K. Dexter received her optometric training at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, where she was Class of 2010 Valedictorian. She also completed a residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in San Diego, California. Dr. Dexter is the Manager and Program Coordinator for OptoPrep, the premiere online study resource for the NBEO Part I & II.

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When asked why they chose this profession, many optometrists will tell you that many factors contributed to their decision; they wanted to be able to help people and give back to the community, they were fascinated by the eyes and the visual system, they liked the idea of the flexible work environment and schedule, and of course, the potential to earn a good living and provide for a family.

Many of you students are probably looking forward to the days where you’ll actually start making a doctor’s wage, but do you really have an idea of what an optometrist makes? And what factors can influence your income level?

I’d like to summarize some of the highlights from a study done on close to 1,000 optometrists regarding their income from 2016 (full article published in Review of Optometry)

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Salary Basics

  • The average annual income for all of the optometrist participating in the survey; both full-time (90%) and part-time (10%), is $157,650
  • Full-time optometrists; both self-employed (50%) and employed (50%), reported an average annual salary of $163,276
  • Part-time optometrists average $109,851
  • Self-employed ODs average $197,533
  • Employed ODs reported an average income of $125,099

Salary by Years in Practice

  • ODs in practice 0-10 years average $129,205 per year
  • 11-20 year ODs average $170,033 per year
  • 21-30 year ODs average $199,112 per year
  • Those ODs who have been in practice 30+ years average $199,448 per year

Salary by Practice Setting (for self-employed ODs)

  • ODs practicing in a partnership or group setting average $234,267
  • Solo practitioner ODs average $190,855
  • Those ODs in “other” settings average $188,048
  • And ODs practicing as independent contractors make an average of $138,625

Salary by Practice Setting (for employed ODs)

  • ODs working in a commercial firm average $149,894
  • Those working for an HMO or PPO average $132,412
  • ODs in a hospital or VA setting reported an average of $126,665
  • ODs employed by another OD or MD average $110,062
  • ODs working in academia reported the lowest average at $98,688

Salary by Geographic Location

  • Practitioners in the South reported the highest annual salary of $177,612
  • Midwest optometrists average $166,190
  • ODs in the Mid-Atlantic and Lower Great Lakes Region reported a salary of $161,789
  • Those ODs working in the Northeast average $159,024
  • ODs practicing in the West reported the lowest average salary at $153,568

Average Full-Time Salary by Gender

  • Male ODs average $181,541
  • Female ODs average $132,783
  • This disparity could be due to the fact that there are less women in the profession who have worked 30+ years (and this is the highest salaried group)

Expected Change in Salary in the Next Year

  • About 50% of ODs expected their income to increase in the following year
  • 36% expected income to stay the same

-Dr. Dexter

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Topics: Salary