Optometrists are primary healthcare providers who examine, diagnose, and treat vision issues and diseases of the eye. They do not perform surgeries as this is a function of ophthalmologists. Of the countries reviewed in this guide, optometrists in the US earn the most at about $104,000 per year, and on the low end is the UK with ₤36,000, or US$48,666. When looking at the US dollar equivalency, the optometrist salaries in New Zealand, Canada, and Australia are similar at NZ$80,000 (US$57,456), C$83,000 (US$66,750), and AU$88,000 (US$68,802), respectively. Additional information on the average optometrist salary and career are provided in this guide.
How Much Does an Optometrist Make?
In the following table, we will outline optometrist salary ranges in select countries worldwide.
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Optometrist Salary Determinant Factors
While geographic region impacts salaries worldwide, professional experience has the greatest influence on income. The following paragraphs include additional information on salary, benefits and job outlook for an optometrist career.
1. How Much Does an Optometrist Make by Country?
Optometrist Salary in the US
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary for optometrists in the United States is $106,140. Payscale, however, reports the average at $104,000. New optometrists beginning their careers can expect starting salaries of about $72,000 per year, increasing to more than $133,000 with experience. There are opportunities to significantly increase overall earnings through bonus, profit sharing, and commission incentives that can range from about $7,000 to more than $131,000 in total.
While experience helps boost income, geographic location also influences earnings in the US. Optometrist salaries in New York are about 16% higher than the national average while optometrists in Houston earn about 13% less than the national average.
Optometrist Salary in Canada
In Canada, optometrists earn about C$83,000 per year. Entry level salary for those beginning their optometry career is about C$45,000 per year, while those with the most experience earn more than C$123,000 annually. Salaries steadily increase and peak for those with 10 years’ or more experience, but usually decrease after this mark. Some employers also offer opportunities for bonus pay that can reach C$20,000. Optometrists with the most experience often transition to heavier education roles within teaching hospitals.
Optometrist Salary in the UK
In the UK, the median annual salary for an optometrist is £35,610. However, the optometrist salary can vary quite a lot according to Prospects.co.uk. While new optometrists are completing training during their preregistration year, salaries range from the national minimum living wage of £13,000 for those under 25 years old to £19,000 for positions covered under the National Health Service.
Upon completion of training, entry level optometrists earn a starting salary around £25,000 and with experience and advancement to the consultant level incomes increase to more than £60,000 per year for professionals working under the NHS.
Payscale, however, reports the mean optometrist salary at ₤36,000 and the total salary range at £24,454 to £50,326 per year.
Optometrist Salary in Australia
The median salary for optometrists in Australia AU$88,000 per year. Entry level optometrists who have completed their graduate level internships can expect to earn just over AU$66,000 per year. Salaries progressively increase with experience to more than AU$127,000 annually, peaking for those with 20 years’ or more time in the optometry field. Bonus incentives can further boost earnings up to an additional $25,000.
Salaries for optometrists in Perth may exceed the national average by 5%, while earnings in Sydney fall short of the national average by about 13%.
Optometrist Salary in New Zealand
Optometrists in New Zealand earn between NZ$60,000 and NZ$120,000 per year. Junior level optometrists who have completed graduate level training earn starting salaries ranging from NZ$60,000 to NZ$80,000 per year. With additional experience, earnings increase to NZ$90,000 annually and, eventually, NZ$120,000. An additional NZ$2,000 in bonus incentives are possible.
While entry-level and mid-career salaries are similar throughout the country, some senior level optometrist positions in Christchurch garner slightly higher pay.
2. How Much Does an Optometrist Make According to Experience?
Experience influences optometrist salary worldwide, but the impact of this factor is stronger in some countries than others. For example, in the US, where earnings are the greatest among the countries we looked at, the difference between entry level and senior level average salaries is about $70,000 per year. Meanwhile, in the UK where earnings are on the lower end of the scale, annual salaries double over the course of one’s career. Experience boosts salaries in Canada with more than C$70,000, a much higher rate than in New Zealand and Australia, each seeing increases of about 70%.
Requirements to practice as an optometrist vary somewhat from country to country. For example, in the US, following completion of an undergraduate degree typically in a science-related field, a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree must be earned. This typically takes an additional four years. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, only a four-year Bachelor of Optometry degree is mandatory. Most countries require licensure or registration with a governing body at the federal or state level to practice as an optometrist.
3. How Much Does an Optometrist Make According to Work Environment?
Optometrists are employed in private practice, vision centers that may be separate or connected to retail eye care businesses, hospitals, and in higher education. While experience influences higher incomes, work setting also has a great impact on the earning potential of optometrists. Positions within hospital settings may offer higher incomes globally. This is due to the fact that these professionals often have additional training and skill associated with emergency situations. In fact, in the UK, those who hold National Health Service positions in hospitals earn about 37% more than their counterparts in private practice at all levels of their professional career.
Recommended read: If you are interested in related fields, we also recommend reading our guide to the ophthalmologist salary in English-speaking countries.
Optometrists often work full-time hours; however, there are opportunities for part-time positions and flexible schedules. Full-time hours may range from 37.5 to 40 hours, with some employers offering overtime pay. Hospital optometrists may have to work shifts at any time, seven days a week, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Those who are employed in vision centers often work during typical business hours during Monday through Friday.
However, many centers offer some evening and weekend availability. While earning potential in private practice may not be as high as hospital positions, those who work in solo or group private practice may have the greatest opportunities for flexible scheduling.
Bonuses and Benefits
Medical, dental, and vision insurance are often available to optometrists; however, those who are self-employed in private practice may be required to cover these expenses. Some employers cover expenses associated with continuing education, licensing fees, and travel and registration fees for conferences. In the UK, it is common for community practice employers to pay for course costs and ‘Scheme for Registration’ fees. In private practices, some optometrists are required to sell products such as eyewear and corrective lenses as part of their job responsibilities. Thus, they may receive commission incentives for achieving sales goals.
Demand for optometrists is expected to increase rapidly in the coming years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 27% growth rate between 2014 and 2024 among optometry positions with an aging population and increase in diabetes diagnoses, which often brings on vision issues. Additionally, New Zealand has identified that there are a large number of optometry professionals over the age of 50 who are likely going to retire in the coming years.
Optometrists earn relatively high salaries worldwide, with increasing demand expected to support these salary levels. Those who are employed in hospital settings often receive higher earnings. Many optometrists work full-time, while there are opportunities for part-time and flexible scheduling.
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