Image of an eye

Why Optometry?

You believe in the power of eye care to change lives, including your own. So do we. Here’s why becoming a doctor of optometry (OD) is such a future-focused and fulfilling career path.

An essential role in the healthcare system
As an optometrist, you’ll specialize in eye care and visual health and help patients in many ways. Optometry is an important part of the healthcare system.  Not only will you diagnose andseated faculty performs eye exam for child while student stands behind them treat eye disorders, you’ll detect diseases with ocular manifestations and collaborate with ophthalmologists and other health professionals.

Depending on the type of practice you work in, you may also work collaboratively with pediatricians, primary care physicians, and others on the healthcare team.

Optometry is a powerful way to make a difference
Optometrists make an impact every day. A single comprehensive eye exam can lead to a patient obtaining corrective lenses, discovering a previously undetected eye injury or disease, or receiving services such as low-vision rehabilitation or vision therapy. ODs also search for long-term solutions to ocular conditions and diseases, develop products that promote visual health, and provide eye care in numerous specialized environments.

A healthcare career with work-life balance
Determining where to go to school and what career path to take is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. How much money and time will you need to invest in your education? What does working life look like afterwards?

  • Compared to many healthcare and medical career paths, the path to practice in optometry is relatively short. Most ODs programs are four years, with the fourth year including rotations in different clinical settings.
  • Optometrists can practice in nearly any location, urban or rural, and work flexible hours, part or full time. Compared to many jobs in healthcare, they receive few emergency calls related to patients that require immediate attention.

Optometrists earn competitive salaries
There are different studies that report on the salary potential for optometrists. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics measured an optometrist’s mean annual wage at $125,440 in May 2020. The Review of Optometry survey respondents reported an average income of around $170,000. See the results of its 2019 Income Survey. 

Optometry is an in-demand, versatile degreeimage of 9%
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there are 44,400 optometry jobs in the U.S. right now and that the profession will grow by about 9% from 2020-2030 (bls.gov). Many of these jobs are in private or group practice—but that’s not the only place you’ll find ODs at work.

Optometrists also:

  • Deliver care at clinics and retail locations.
  • Provide care at VA Health Centers, community health centers, military clinics, and within nonprofit organizations.
  • Work at academic institutions in research and training the next generation.
  • Work in the corporate world developing new products.
  • Consult in government, sports, education, and beyond.

NECO Alumni Paths
Our alumni have pursued a range of career opportunities in practice, industry, and academia:

  • They serve patients in a variety of settings including private practice, community health centers, university medical centers, VA hospitals, military bases, and retail providers.
  • They specialize in many areas such as pediatrics, low vision, retinal disease, dry eye, contact lens, and pre- and post-operative management.
  • They work in research and development at companies like Johnson & Johnson Vision, Abbott, Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, and CIBA Vision.
  • They’re founders, CEOs, chief vision officers of healthcare start-ups, medical technology companies, and other businesses.
  • They lead professional organizations as well as community benefit organizations like VOSH and the Bernie Mac Foundation.
  • They cultivate future optometrists as professors, deans, clinical education directors, adjunct instructors, and research coordinators at a wide range of educational institutions.

Optometry Facts

  • 9%

    Expected Growth

    Optometry is projected to grow by about 9% from 2020- 2030 (U.S. BLS).

  • #20

    Best Healthcare Job

    U.S. News & World Report ranks optometrist among the top 20 healthcare jobs in America for quality of life, pay, and future growth.

Headshot of Sophia.
Voices of NECO

Why I Chose Optometry

Sophia

I learned very quickly that optometry is so much more than just looking at peoples’ eyes; it’s caring for a patient and cultivating relationships.

  • Class Year 2023
  • Hometown Upstate New York
Up close view of person looking into a microscope.

Open Your Eyes to the Impact of Optometry

Watch Open Your Eyes Documentary and learn how optometrists can now see 300 systemic diseases in the eye, and how important the role the optometrist plays in overall healthcare is.