Detailed Guide forOptometrists in San Diego County
May also be called: Doctors of Optometry (OD); Eye Doctors; and Optometry Doctors
What Would I Do?
Optometrists, also known as doctors of optometry or ODs, are typically primary vision care providers. They provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States. Optometrists examine the human eye to diagnose vision problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. They test patients’ depth and color perception and ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, as well as test for glaucoma and other eye diseases. Optometrists prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. They may also prescribe or provide other treatments, such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation. They may diagnose conditions caused by systemic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, referring patients to other health practitioners as needed. Optometrists often provide pre- and postoperative care to cataract patients, as well as to patients who have had laser vision correction or other eye surgery.
Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery and treat eye disease, as well as examine eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Tools and Technology
Optometrists use a variety of tools and technology in their work. Tools and equipment include eye charts, lensometers, ophthalmic eye test lenses, and retinal cameras, as well as optical hand tools such as calipers, pliers, and screwdrivers. They also use accounting, medical, and word processing software in their daily tasks.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Examine eyes, using observation, instruments and pharmaceutical agents, to determine visual acuity and perception, focus and coordination and to diagnose diseases and other abnormalities such as glaucoma or color blindness.||Medicine and Dentistry|
|Prescribe, supply, fit and adjust eyeglasses, contact lenses and other vision aids.||Deductive Reasoning|
|Analyze test results and develop a treatment plan.||Critical Thinking|
|Educate and counsel patients on contact lens care, visual hygiene, lighting arrangements and safety factors.||Speaking|
|Remove foreign bodies from the eye.||Near Vision|
|Consult with and refer patients to ophthalmologist or other health care practitioner if additional medical treatment is determined necessary.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Prescribe medications to treat eye diseases.||Science|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Medicine and Dentistry||Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.|
|Deductive Reasoning||The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Speaking||Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Near Vision||The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Science||Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.|
Most Optometrists work in stand-alone optometry offices. They may also work in doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics, health care networks, and retail establishments. Optometrists generally work a 40-hour week, although some may work part time. Some work evenings and weekends to suit patients’ needs. Self-employed Optometrists may work longer hours because they must tend to both medical and administrative duties.
Optometrists are typically not represented by unions; however, those who work for large health care networks may belong to a union.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Optometrist may appeal to those who enjoy searching for facts and figuring out problems. Prospective Optometrists should also enjoy helping people and have the ability to relate to their patients. Optometrists who go into private practice should also possess business skills.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Optometrists in California was $112,152 annually, or $53.92 hourly. The median wage for Optometrists in San Diego County was $119,325 annually, or $57.37 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Full-time Optometrists generally receive health and life insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement benefits. Those who work for large health care networks may receive additional benefits, such as tuition reimbursement and flexible spending accounts. Self-employed Optometrists are responsible for their own benefits.
What is the Job Outlook?
Demand for Optometrists is expected to increase due to the vision care needs of our aging and growing population. However, most job openings will be created by the need to replace Optometrists who retire or leave the field for other reasons.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Optometrists is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Optometrists are expected to increase by 19.1 percent, or 900 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
In San Diego County, the number of Optometrists is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Optometrists are expected to increase by 13.6 percent, or 60 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|San Diego County|
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 100 new job openings per year is expected for Optometrists, plus an additional 170 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 260 job openings.
In San Diego County, an average of 7 new job openings per year is expected for Optometrists, plus an additional 16 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 23 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|San Diego County|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
After completing at least three years of postsecondary education with extensive coursework in health, science, and mathematics, prospective Optometrists must complete a four-year Doctor of Optometry program. Prior to admission to a Doctor of Optometry program, applicants must take and pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). As students progress through the program, they take on more advanced clinical training and responsibility. Upon completion of the Doctor of Optometry program and the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) examinations, graduates are then able to apply for state licensure.
Experience varies by employer. Some employers prefer to hire experienced Optometrists, while others may welcome new graduates.
Early Career Planning
Students interested in becoming an Optometrist should take college preparatory courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics to help prepare for the college training required. English, business, foreign language, and computer literacy classes are also helpful.
Optometrists must complete a minimum of 40 hours of board-approved continuing education every two years in order to maintain licensure.
Licensing and Certification
Optometrists must be licensed by the Board of Optometry to practice in California. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
Professional optometric associations offer certificates such as the Advanced Competency in Medical Optometry. Certification can help demonstrate a level of competence that may enhance job prospects. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Optometrists are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners ||43.0%|
|Offices of Physicians ||26.6%|
|Outpatient Care Centers ||5.4%|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ||1.7%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Internet job listings, college career centers, or professional associations may also provide job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Optometrists.
- Eye Doctors
- Optometry & Ophthalmology
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Many Optometrists go into private practice; however, some go on to teach or do research at optometry colleges, while others may work as consultants in the eye care industry.
Below is a list of occupations related to Optometrists with links to more information.
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.