What is an Optometrist?

Optometrists diagnose and treat vision problems and treat and manage diseases, injuries, and/or disorders of the eye. In some states, they are licensed to perform corrective laser surgery on the eyes. Usually optometrists are in general practice but they can specialize in areas such as contact lens fitting and prescription, low vision services, pediatric optometry, sports vision and other areas. Optometry is a flexible career and optometrists work in private practice, partnerships, or corporations, such as national chains.


Quick Facts: Optometrists

2018 Median Pay

$111,790 per year
$53.75 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education

Doctoral or professional degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2018


Job Outlook, 2018-28

10% (Faster than average)

Employment Change, 2018-28



From: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm


How do I become an Optometrist?

Earn your Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers in any subject, taking required prerequisites as part of your major, minor and/or elective coursework. Get good grades. Shadow an optometrist and get hands on clinical experience that requires you participate in direct patient care. Take the OAT. Apply to schools of optometry through OPTOMCAS. Finish your degree, and any specialized training and pass board exams to practice.


What prerequisite courses do I need to take to apply to Optometry schools?

Prerequisites vary from program to program so you need to check the individual schools to which you plan to apply but some common requirements are:

1 year of General Biology with lab

1 year of General Chemistry with lab

1 year of Organic Chemistry with lab

1 year of Physics with lab



Anatomy and Physiology


Prerequisite courses continued…





For a table listing requirements for optometry programs look here: https://www.optomcas.org/information-about-schools-colleges/school-college-prerequisites


How long does it take to become an optometrist?

Once you enter an optometry school, it takes about 4 years to earn your doctoral degree and pass the qualifying exams. You may need an additional year for certain, optional, specialties.


How much does it cost to attend optometry school?

Costs range from around $20,000 per year to close to $50,000 and will vary from state to state and between public and private, and resident and not resident tuition. Note, these costs due not include fees or living expenses and will be higher at private schools. For comparative information see: https://www.sco.edu/optometry-schools-in-usa


What GPA do I need to get accepted into an optometry program?

These programs are competitive. The average admitted GPAs range from 3.2 to 3.7, depending on the program. For comparative admissions data from the entering class of 2018, see: https://optometriceducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ASCO-Prof-Entering-Class-2018.pdf


What standardized tests to I need to take to apply to optometry programs?

You must take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). For more information on the exam, look here: https://www.ada.org/en/oat


What other requirements are there for optometry programs?

Clinical experience

Letters of reference


Where can I find more information?

American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/about-the-aoa/what-is-a-doctor-of-optometry

Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry: https://optometriceducation.org/

https://myasco.opted.org/searchEngines/admissions_advanced_search_form.aspx to search programs and optometry-specific summer opportunities

Historic data on applicant profiles: https://optometriceducation.org/student-profile-prerequisites/profiles-of-applicants

ExploreHealthCareers.org: https://explorehealthcareers.org/field/optometry/