Like many other lines of work, optometrist salary varies depending on the work location or the duties encountered on the job.
The salary levels are also based on the type of employer, experience and gender.
An optometrist is a medical practitioner who examines eyes, tests sight and in turn prescribes contact lenses or spectacles.
These professionals also diagnose vision problems — such as astigmatism and nearsightedness.
They also test for eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Most of them work in general practice with all kinds of people. Some work in private practice or with a certain group of people, such as the partially sighted, the elderly or children.
The average salary of these professionals depends on the location of employment.
Well-paying nonmetropolitan regions are likely to have salaries that are comparatively higher than the national average. This is because of the relatively higher demand for the service.
As of September 2009, the average median salary of a professional in the US, as indicated by Salary.com, is $104,801 per year. In addition, 50 percent of these practitioners are paid an average of between $97,713 and $121,567 each year.
Some 80 percent get between $91,260 and $136,832 each year.
In the US, these medical practitioners earn bonuses averaging $2,189 per year.
With the bonuses, 50 percent of the middle earners get between $98,492 and $123, while 80 percent get $90,756 and $138,558 respectively.
Salary by industry
Optometrist salary varies across health-care industry.
As reported by the BLS, majority of the optometrists work in the health practitioners’ offices rather than physicians. $103,050 was listed as the average wage within this sector.
On the other hand, professionals within the offices of the physicians and personal and health care stores got a mean of $129,810 and $104,080 respectively.
Surgical and medical hospitals were paid an average of $106,770 while outpatient care centers got $115,450 respectively.
From the statistics, those specialized in a certain field get a salary that falls in the same range as individuals working in optometry.
Individuals in specialties that do not need a medical degree earn significantly less.
For instance, optometrist technicians will be asked to assist in fitting lenses that have been prescribed by medical professionals. This limits the salaries these professionals expect to earn.
Salary by Experience
Experience plays an integral role in determining an optometrist’s salary.
The average salary range is broken down by PayScale.com into the number of years one has been working.
From the analysis, $70,447 and $93,709 is the average pay for a professional with one to four years of experience.
On the other hand, a practitioner who has had five to nine years of experience earns an average pay between $80,928 and $103,931.
An optometrist who has worked for 10 to 19 years is likely to earn between $78,964 and $115,892, while an experienced person of 20 years and above earns between $83,310 and $123,387 annually.
Salary by Location
According to a survey conducted by SalaryExpert.com, optometrists who work in large urban areas are likely to pull in relatively higher wages.
Since they are relatively few in number, they are likely to earn salaries that are more competitive.
For instance, due to the limited number of medical care facilities that are accessible to the public, an average optometrist is likely to be visited by more patients compared to those working in metropolitan areas.
This in turn increases their salaries in a given year.
Working in regions that provide substantial vision coverage and health insurance policies may further increase their salaries.
A case in point is Dallas, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona, all of which are among the best paying regions.
In these regions, the physician’s average salary falls between $157,115 and $156,670.
This is compared to other regions such as Georgia, which pays an average of $94,314.
On the other hand, Tennessee, Kansas and Louisiana are examples of states where an optometrist is likely to receive among the best pay rates in the country.
Their average pay is $137,220, $129,420 and $142,550 respectively.
In contrast, an optometrist in Colorado is likely to earn $86,640.
This shows that this physician’s average salaries are likely to be lower in areas where several other medical care facilities exist due to increased competition.
Salary by gender
Gender also affects the salaries of these eye specialists. While the female physicians earn between $68,113 and $95,028, men take home between $77,374 and $111,110.
Complete compensation and benefits
These medical practitioners also pull in some substantial benefits. Each year, an average of $8,173 is added to their salaries due to the Social Security benefits.
Additionally, the 403b/401 plans include an average amount of $3,852. Disability benefits also add a mean value of $1,070 while health care puts in $5,722.
Optometrists’ pensions are about $4,922 while that of time off is $13,991. The total average compensation these practicians are entitled to, including benefits and bonuses, values to $144,719.
This is $39,918 more than the base pay and comprises only 72.4 percent of the entire value. Generally, the average optometrist salary is expected to rise in the near future because of the limited number of practicians.
Learn how you can become a optometrist quickly.