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Optometrist Job Outlook


Optometrists Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 8,100 new jobs over the 10-year period.

Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists. As people age, they become more susceptible to conditions that impair vision, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

The number of people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has grown in recent years. Diabetes has been linked to increased rates of several eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the eye and may lead to vision loss. More optometrists will be needed to monitor, treat, and refer individuals with these chronic conditions.

In addition, an increasing number of insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, provide some vision or eye care insurance coverage. Furthermore, the number of individuals, particularly children, who have vision or eye care insurance will increase as a result of federal health insurance reform legislation. More optometrists will be needed in order to provide services to more patients.

Job Prospects

Because the number of optometrists is limited by the number of accredited optometry schools, licensed optometrists should expect good job prospects. Like admission to professional degree programs in other fields, admission to optometry programs is highly competitive.

Students who choose to complete a residency program gain additional experience that may improve their job prospects. Certification from the American Board of Optometry may also be viewed favorably by employers.

In addition, a large number of currently practicing optometrists are expected to retire over the coming decade, creating opportunities for new optometrists.

Employment projections data for optometrists, 2012-22

Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
Optometrists 29-1041 33,100 41,200 24 8,100
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
Last Modification: 01-26-2014