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Explore the possibilities of a career in optometry

Learn more about finding the right optometry school or college for you, the application process and the different modalities you can pursue.

GREAT DECISION TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP TOWARD BECOMING A DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY.

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Explore the possibilities of a career in optometry

Learn more about finding the right optometry school or college for you, the application process and the different modalities you can pursue.

GREAT DECISION TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP TOWARD BECOMING A DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY.

Right now, we're creating a personalized site for you and will email a link shortly. Can't wait? Take a peek.

Dr. Vishal Patel

Eyesight is something that is very powerful. To be able to give that to people who are experiencing vision issues, or help keep their eyes and bodies healthy, is why I became a Doctor of Optometry. My favorite part of my job is working with my colleagues. We are a team, and when we work together, we can provide solutions for our patients that make a huge difference in their lives. Every day, patients come to us with issues regarding their eye health—macular degeneration, glaucoma, even keratoconus. We’re able to provide them with treatment methods for those as well as monitor accordingly. Looking at the big picture, we’re saving vision—and lives.

More of Dr. Patel’s Story

“I had a patient come in with a complaint of blurry vision out on the way edges of his vision. About 30 years old in age, so very young. We weren't expecting anything to be severe. We ran a series of tests, and we were able to find that he had a brain tumor. And we were able to catch it very early in the progression, and, ultimately, we were able to save his life because of his initiative to come see us. That was very rewarding to know that we truly did save a life that day.”

Being a Doctor of Optometry is fueling my life goals as well as my career goals. I really like to travel, and I eventually want to start a family. Optometry gives me the time and financial means for both of those things. In my day-to-day life, soccer has always been an escape for me. I’ve been playing since I was in the 5th grade. Carrying that on throughout my life has always been very important for me. It’s a way to unwind and reenergize. It allows me to put everything to the side and focus my energy into something else that I am passionate about. This creates the space for me to be fresh and alert for my patients during the day at work.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to go to a rural city in Mexico where we provided eyecare to underserved locals. Throughout a 14-day period, we completed 1,000 comprehensive eye exams.

Dr. Linda Pham

One of the best parts of being a Doctor of Optometry is connecting with patients and seeing how they use their eyes on a daily basis. I get a picture of their overall health because the eyes are connected to the whole body—it’s the only place you can see all the blood vessels and the optic nerve without having to do surgery—so you can see many systemic health issues. One of the other reasons I became a Doctor of Optometry was to decrease the barriers to eyecare in vulnerable and underserved populations, such as homeless veterans and people with disabilities. I’ve gone to Peru and Belize to help bring eyecare to those who otherwise don’t have access, and I still work with veterans today. I also worked in Juneau, Alaska, and White River, Arizona, on the Apache Reservation, where I worked with Navajo and Apache residents.

More of Dr. Pham’s Story

“I was born in Montreal, Canada, and I moved to the United States when I was three. I grew up in inner-city Boston, and my parents are Vietnam War refugees. My father was a civil engineer in Vietnam in the South. When the North invaded the South, he lost everything—his home, all of his possessions—and was locked up in reeducation camps. He was considered a “boat person.” Not a lot of people know what that term means, but it refers to refugees from Vietnam who escaped by boat in the middle of the night. There was no other option, and the safest one was to risk their lives going off to sea. My parents’ journey from Vietnam to America really influenced my values, passion for working with underserved populations and my determination. Because of my upbringing, I believe it's incredibly important to go after what you truly desire, no matter how many times you fail. I apply this mentality in my work and my personal life.”

I have many other passions in life as well. I’m sort of an adrenaline fanatic—whether that’s hopping on a small plane in Alaska, rock climbing, or skydiving. On a more day-to-day basis, I refocus and recharge by doing things like Bikram-style hot yoga and kayaking. I once kayaked for 10 hours in the rain in Alaska. I love martial arts, too. I’m a black belt in taekwondo. It’s important to me to have time to do these things that I love because it helps me connect with patients on a personal level who may have shared interests.

I help people see, but I also prevent potential sight-threatening conditions.

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis

I became an optometrist because everybody needs health care, and optometry empowers me to provide an affordable health care to my community. I’m able to have an immediate, life-changing impact on patients—whether that’s through detection of a serious health issue, or through lenses that help them see their world. It’s about being the best I can and giving that to everyone else. If you’re a student interested in challenging yourself, interested in providing for your community, you should become a Doctor of Optometry.

More of Dr. Lewis’ Story

“The relationships that I develop with my patients are unique and special because not only do I get to provide them with the highest quality of care for what arguably is the most important sense, but also I get to do that in an affordable manner and spend the time that these patients deserve. Unfortunately, there’s a trend in health care right now where it’s less and less time with the patient as the doctor, but in optometry, you have a say in how much time you want to spend with your patients, and my relationships extend beyond these walls.”

Developing relationships is everything to me. Optometry gives that to me, and so does my event planning business. It’s how I express myself and bring people together. Seeing everybody connect with each other, to see all the faces, all the people joyous, free, relaxed, just enjoying the company and forgetting about all their worries, it’s a happiness that can’t be bought. Optometry also gives me the financial security to be able to raise a family, but more importantly, it gives me the time to spend with that family.

I would absolutely do this all over again.

Dr. Miki Lyn Zilnicki

At 27 years old, my business partner and I opened our own optometry and vision therapy practice. As a vision therapist, I work with kids with binocular vision disorders, lazy eyes, eye turns, or reading issues, and adults with traumatic brain injuries, post-stroke, or post-concussion vision syndrome. Because I see them on a biweekly basis, and through rehabilitating their vision, I get to understand how they’re using their eyes. So as they progress through their program, I witness all the positive changes they go through—allowing me to really feel the benefit of what I’m doing with them every day.

More of Dr. Zilnicki’s Story

“I chose optometry because I knew that I wanted a family. And I knew this profession was one that would give me that balance between work and family. And I could feel successful in a career … You are in complete control of your future and your success. And not many professions give that to you.”

For me, when I career shadowed other medical doctors, I found that some didn’t get to begin their life outside of work until they were much older. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted to be present and young with a family. Optometry allowed me to do that. There’s not that many eye emergencies to take me from my family. My quality of life is wonderful, and I have everything I could ever ask for.

Getting someone’s eyesight back to normal is the most rewarding experience I could ever have.

Dr. Muriel Martinez

I chose optometry because I wanted to be a voice for people that can’t have a voice or don’t know how to use their voice to say if something is wrong. That happens a lot with children with special needs. They can’t tell you if they can’t see. So I come in, and I’m able to advocate for them, tell the parent, “They need eyeglasses. They need vision therapy. They aren’t thriving because they can’t see, and I can easily change that.” I’m also changing lives in the lecture hall. I’m educating future doctors that are then going to impact others’ lives. It’s like I’m impacting all these lives that I will never even know about.

More of Dr. Martinez’s Story

“I think the earning potential is empowering. It gives you freedom. You can travel, you can dance, you can do so many things. You can change lives while you're doing all that stuff at the same time.”

Optometry has fulfilled me. I’m able to feel good about what I do every day, go home, and have a life of my own. Salsa dancing is my escape from everything. It makes me feel alive. I dance competitively, and practice four or five nights of the week (sometimes every night of the week if I can). And every Friday, I attend salsa night at the local aquarium.

My quality of life is awesome. I change lives during the day and I dance salsa at night.

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Fuel your purpose with a career 
in optometry

Thinking of becoming an eye doctor? There are plenty of good reasons why you'd want to. A Doctor of Optometry enjoys a career that is rewarding in every single way.

Give your best

With so many different career paths in optometry—vision therapy, ocular disease, pediatric optometry, among others—you can find your niche and change lives in many different ways. Being an optometrist means you get a view into someone’s overall health—you can be one of the first to detect serious health issues that ultimately can save lives.

Live Your Best

With salaries averaging $140K and work/life balance, you’ll have time and the means to do what matters the most to you outside of being a Doctor of Optometry. Living your best can also mean taking opportunities to bring eye care to underserved populations all over the world. However you feel fulfilled, optometry can make it happen.

A career in optometry compared to others

Choosing a career is a big decision. That's why it’s important to get all the facts. From average salary to time in school, see how optometry compares to other careers.

Compare Careers

Career Comparison

Role
"Dr." Title?
Career Paths
Average Hours/Week
Time to Degree Completion
Average Salary

Optometry

Role
O.D., Vision and ocular health
"Dr." Title?
Yes
Career Paths
  • Private practice
  • Hospital
  • Research
  • Academia
  • Industry
  • VA
  • Military
  • Retail practice
Average Hours/Week
~40 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
4 years of optometry school
Average Salary
$140K/year

Osteopathic Medicine

Role
D.O., Medical
"Dr." Title?
Yes
Career Paths
  • Private practice
  • Hospital
  • Research
  • Academia
  • Industry
  • VA
  • Public health
  • Political advocacy
Average Hours/Week
~50 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
4 years of osteopathic medical school plus 3-to-6-year residency
Average Salary
$188K/year

Allopathic Medicine

Role
M.D., Medical
"Dr." Title?
Yes
Career Paths
  • Private practice
  • Hospital
  • Research
  • Academia
  • Industry
  • VA
  • Public health
  • Political advocacy
Average Hours/Week
~50 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
4 years of medical school plus 3-to-7-year residency
Average Salary
$208K/year

Dentistry

Role
D.M.D, D.D.S, Teeth
"Dr." Title?
Yes
Career Paths
  • Private practice
  • Academia
  • VA
  • Military
  • Partnership practice
  • Public health
Average Hours/Week
~60 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
4 years of dental school
Average Salary
$164K/year

Pharmacy

Role
PharmD, Pharmaceuticals
"Dr." Title?
Yes
Career Paths
  • Academia
  • Retail pharmacy
  • Hospital pharmacy
  • Medical distribution
  • Ambulatory care
  • Specialty
Average Hours/Week
~45 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
4 years of pharmacy school
Average Salary
$128K/year

Podiatry

Role
D.P.M, Feet
"Dr." Title?
Yes
Career Paths
  • Academia
  • VA
  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Public health
  • Sports medicine
Average Hours/Week
~50 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
4 years of podiatry school
Average Salary
$134K/year

Physician’s Assistant

Role
PA, Medical
"Dr." Title?
No
Career Paths
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Doctors' offices
  • Surgery
  • Specialty
Average Hours/Week
~40 hours/week
Time to Degree Completion
3-year master's degree program
Average Salary
$115K/year
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Wondering how to become an optometrist? Just follow these steps:

01

Take

Take

all of your prerequisite courses, including a strong background in sciences and lab experience.

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02

Find

Find

out the optometry requirements and take the OAT, GRE or other accepted standardized exams.

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03

Apply

Apply

to one of the 23 optometry schools and colleges in the U.S.

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04

Complete

Complete

your OD degree and fulfill all the licensure practice requirements.

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library

05

Enjoy

Enjoy

a fulfilling career in optometry.

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Start changing lives through one of these schools or colleges of optometry

Now that you know how to become an eye doctor, check out our academic sponsors, the 23 accredited colleges and schools of optometry across the United States. You’re sure to find the optometry program that’ll help you get started.

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