The Optometrist Salary in 2017

The optometrist salary varies in terms of location, their level of experience in the field, and the industry they are working in. With $103,900 per year, the optometrist salary is the highest in the US of all English-speaking countries. The US is followed at a distance by New Zealand with NZ$93,665 (US$64,988), Australia with AU$83,224 (US$62,892), and Canada C$82,473 (US$61,318) with per year. More info on how and why the salary of an optometrist varies are outlined in this guide.

How Much Does an Optometrist Make per Year?

Here is a table containing the average yearly and hourly incomes of optometrists in English-speaking countries:

Optometrist Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Wage $49.95 C$39.65 (US$29.50) £17.12 (US$21) AU$40.01 (US$30.24) NZ$45.03 (US$31.24) Rs125.85 (US$1.89) R115.61 (US$8.86)
Annual Wage $103,900 C$82,473 (US$ 61,318) £35,610 (US$ 43,316) AU$83,224 (US$ 62,892) NZ$93,665 (US$ 64,988) Rs261,777 (US$ 3,923) R240,469 (US$ 18,460)

Factors that Influence the Optometrist Salary

A wide variety of factors can influence the mean optometrist salary, including occupational rate, local policiesexperience in the field, and geographic area. Local and in-company policies can also influence the wage of an optometrist as further outlined in this guide.

1. Geographic Area

As mentioned above, the geographic area represents a crucial factor that determines the salary of an optometrist. Other varying parameters also influence the demographical factor such s the degree of occupation, job outlook, and the actual number of jobs a city or state offers.

Optometrist Salary in the US

A beginner optometrist in the US will earn about $74,333 per year. Only after more than 5 years can the young professional reach the national average of $103,000; the maximum salary for this profession in the US is about $134,571. Bonuses can account for another $1,013 – $20,043, and commission for $1,535 – $19,627.

Below, you will find a table which contains the highest level of employment in the United States for this occupation:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Florida 2,090 0.26 1.03 $52.83 $109,880
Illinois 2,090 0.26 1.03 $52.83 $109,880
Texas 2,360 0.20 0.80 $54.89 $114,180
New York 2,630 0.29 1.14 $63.82 $132,750
California 3,990 0.26 1.01 $57.09 $118,750

Based on the geographical area, the mean income also varies according to the territorial delimitations between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, which can also affect the level of employment.

Metropolitan Areas with the Highest Employment Level

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division 440 0.29 1.11 $50.16 $104,330
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 440 0.32 1.25 $59.97 $124,740
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 470 0.25 0.99 $53.22 $110,700
Pittsburgh, PA 490 0.43 1.68 $52.77 $109,760
Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division 500 0.39 1.52 $62.36 $129,700
Houston-The Woodlands- Sugar Land, TX 690 0.24 0.93 $47.15 $98,070
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria- DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division 830 0.34 1.34 $60.77 $126,410
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division 1,210 0.23 1.5 $53.32 $110,900
Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division 1,670 0.47 1.82 $44.48 $92,510
New York- Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 1,750 0.27 1.06 $60.66 $126,170
Nonmetropolitan Areas with the Lowest Levels of Employment
Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location Quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area 110 0.41 1.61 $57.22 $119,010
East Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area 50 0.42 1.64 $47.79 $99,400
Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area 70 0.56 2.18 $42.94 $89,320
Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area 30 0.66 2.59 $24.98 $51,960
East Arkansas nonmetropolitan area 50 0.66 2.57 $62.62 $130,240

But a high occupational rate does not necessarily equal a bigger pay. The following table containing the highest paying states in the country will prove that places with high occupational rates don’t have the highest salaries.

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Local quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Maryland 560 0.21 0.84 $63.90 $132,920
Oklahoma 630 0.40 1.54 $65.45 $136,140
New Mexico 150 0.19 0.75 $67.76 140,940
Connecticut 260 0.16 0.62 $86.62 $180,160
Alaska 70 0.22 0.85 $86.93 $180,810

Of course, there are a couple of states which are missing from the list mentioned above. This means that there are little job opportunities there.

Compared to other countries, the United States offers the highest mean wage for this occupation. Local and corporate policies are also factors that determine the average optometrist salary. For example, it is only natural that a self-employed optometrist should earn more than a Walmart optometrist or one employed by a hospital.

Optometrist Salary in Canada

Optometrists working in Canada earn about C$82,473, or US$61,318 per year. The starting salary for this profession is about C$47,647 (or US$35,439). With experience and bonuses which can add another C$6,000 (US$4,467), a professional working in this field in Canada can expect a yearly income of C$114,692, or US$85,358.

Although entry-level employees are paid less than the national average, experienced, mid-career, and late-career optometrists have above-average salaries. More than half of the professionals in this field have less than 5 years of experience and over 40% have no health benefits with their job.

Optometrist Salary in the UK

A beginner optometrist in the UK will start off with about £24,509, or US$29,805 per year. After about 5 years, a professional will reach the national average salary for optometrists in the UK, £35,610 or US$43,311. Mid-career, experienced, and late-career professionals have salaries way above the national average and can earn up to £49,936 (US$60,712) with commission, profit sharing, and bonuses.

According to, band 8c/8d specialists in this medical field can earn up to £82,434, or US$100,198.

Optometrist Salary in Australia

Optometrists in Australia earn AU$83,224 or US$62,892 on average. The starting salary for this profession is set at AU$67,319 or US$50,890. After about 5 years, an optometrist working in Australia usually reaches the national average, while mid-career and experienced professionals earn 15% to 25% more.

Late-career professionals can expect salaries of up to AU$126,234 or US$95,407 including commission which can surpass AU$2,000 (US$1,511) and bonuses which usually account for an extra income between AU$1,000 and AU$22,000 (US$755 – US$16,626).

Optometrist Salary in New Zealand

The national average salary for optometrists in New Zealand is set at NZ$93,665 or US$64,988 per year. The starting optometrist salary for this country is NZ$72,719, or US$50,519. Both entry-level and mid-career professionals earn less than the national average, even with more than 10 years of experience in this field.

An experienced professional working in this field in New Zealand will earn about NZ$113,346 (US$7,870), or just 6% more than the national average. In addition, 67% of the optometrists in New Zealand have no health benefits with their job.

Optometrist Salary in India

A graduate working as an optometrist in India will earn about Rs169,127 or US$2,535 for the first 5 years on the job. After a few years, however, they will surpass the national average threshold of Rs261,777 (US$3,923). Mid-career optometrists in India earn about 12% more than the national average, while experienced professionals earn 55-60% more and reach salaries of Rs506,467 (US$7,591).

Bonuses can account for up to Rs28,337 (US$424), commission for about Rs10,174 (US$153), and profit sharing for another Rs15,000 (US$225).

Optometrist Salary in South Africa

The starting optometrist salary in South Africa is set at R175,020 (US$13,433), almost 10% less than the national average. After less than 5 years they will reach the national average for this profession, R240,469 or US$18,460, which means mid-career professionals earn a bit more (up to 5% more, in fact).

Late-career and experienced professionals will bring home 48-65% more than the national average for optometrists in South Africa, or up to R493,323 (US$37,907) per year. Bonuses can account for up to R24,240 (US$1,860) and commission – for another Rs24,000 (US$1,842).

2. Experience

To become an optometrist, you must first complete an undergraduate in anatomy, biology, biochemistry, or optics and to pass out the courses of an Optometry School. There is a difference between optometrists working in hospitals and those starting a private practice regarding flexibility and yearly earnings.

3. Industry

Apart from geographic location and local policies, industry is widely considered a crucial factor that determines the average optometrist salary. Naturally, there is a major significance between an optometrist working in a private practice and one who occupies a position in the Offices of Physicians.

Below, you will find a table which contains the industries with the highest level of employment for this occupation:

Industry Employment Percent of Industry Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 450 0.02 $30.90 $64,280
Outpatient Care Centers 850 0.11 $62.13 $129,240
Health and Personal Care Stores 5,490 0.53 $50.70 $105,460
Offices of Physicians 6,340 0.25 $68.31 $142,070
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 20,430 2.54 $54.10 $112,530

More than often, the industries with the highest rate of employment are not necessarily the top paying industries for an occupation. Below, you will find a table containing the top paying industries for optometrists:

Industry Employment Percent of Industry Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 20,460 2.54 $54.10 $112,530
Employment Services 100 Less than 0.005 $54.43 $113,20
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 280 0.01 $55.64 $115,720
Outpatient Care Center 850 0.11 $62.13 $129,240
Offices of Physicians 6,340  0.21 $68.31 $142,070

Working hours

According to a report published on, approximately 49 percent of all optometrists work in optometry offices and only one in six optometrist work in private practice. Moreover, some of them can work in hospitals and daycare centers.

As an optometrist, you will be required to work 40 hours per week. However, this schedule may vary according to the number of patients you’ll have to accommodate. Some optometrists will work over the weekend or during off-hours to accommodate the needs of their patients. Optometrists can also work in optical goods stores.

Bonuses and Benefit Packages

On average, an optometrist can earn in bonuses up to $20,274, apart from his regular salary, depending on location, experience, and other achievements. Other benefits might include a full medical insurance policy. The medical policy includes dental insurance, malpractice insurance, and vision insurance. Nevertheless, others might only enjoy one (or none) of these benefits depending on their location, the industry they work in, and their employer.

Job Outlook

If you’re currently looking to seek employment as an optometrist, then you should know that the job market for this occupation will increase by the 14.1 percent in the 2012-2022 timeframe. Furthermore, there are currently 33,340 working in the United States, most of them being concentrated in the states of HawaiiIllinois, New York, and California.

Based on the job outlook projection, we can clearly state the job market will increase over the following decade, so securing a job as an optometrist should not be a problem.


Many outside factors can influence the average optometrist salary including the degree of occupation, experience, and local policies. Becoming an optometrist is no easy job, but based on the current job market projection, the results are worth the effort. As a future optometrist, you’ll come to realize that the patients’ needs come first and that you will be required to work some extra time to accommodate all of them.

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