Posted by: Crystal | January 5, 2010

Optometrist is One of the 50 Best Careers of 2010

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Things are beginning to look a little bit brighter in 2010.  According to US News & World Report optometry is one of the 50 best careers of 2010!

The rundown:

They’re often referred to as “doctors of optometry,” but as an optometrist, you won’t have an M.D., but rather a Doctor of Optometry degree (O.D.) from a school of optometry. Optometrists are healthcare professionals who treat a wide variety of eye problems. They prescribe lenses for nearsighted and farsighted people, diagnose and treat visual problems such a scratched cornea or glaucoma, and refer patients for laser-eye surgery, among other duties. Many optometrists specialize in particular areas—eye care for infants and the elderly is in high demand, for example, and some optometrists work with athletes on sports-related visual problems.

[See all of this year’s Best Careers.]

The outlook:

The American population is quickly becoming more elderly. So demand for visual aids is expected to grow considerably. But eye-care technology is improving as well, allowing each optometrist to care for more patients. Still, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects more than 24 percent growth, or 8,500 new jobs, for the profession from 2008 through 2018.

Upward mobility:

The more independent you are, and the longer you practice, the more you will earn, generally speaking. According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, self-employed optometrists earn well above the average for the profession, while those who work for optical chains or in practices of six or more optometrists earn less. Those who practice for between 26 and 30 years earn an average of $70,000 more annually than those in practice for six to 10 years.

Activity level:

Emergency calls are rare, so optometrists have a slightly lower activity level than many medical professionals. But there aren’t many optometrists in the country, so you might be quite busy during regular working hours.

[See all Healthcare careers.]

Stress level:

Moderate. Many optometrists get to be their own bosses, as the majority work in private practice. But that freedom can create stress—you might be working extra hours to handle the nuts and bolts of your business.

Education and preparation:

Don’t overrate the fact that you don’t have to go to medical school to be an optometrist. Becoming an optometrist is still quite competitive, as there are only 20 schools that teach optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico. These are four-year institutions at universities that all require a bachelor’s degree for applicants. Each school has its own additional admissions requirements. According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, during undergraduate years an applicant should take “at least a year of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics, and microbiology; English; college mathematics; and other social science and humanities courses.”

[Find online certificate programs in public health.]

Money:

The bottom 10 percent of optometrists earned less than $46,900, while the top earners made more than $166,400. The annual median wage in 2008 was $96,320. Vermont and Washington are the states with the highest average wage for optometrists.


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