California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Optometrists 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
TaskSkill 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
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

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?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Optometrists in California is $112,152 annually, or $53.92 hourly. The median wage for Optometrists in San Diego County is $119,325 annually, or $57.37 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$87,957$112,152$145,935
San Diego County$90,432$119,325>$145,600
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

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 12.2 percent, or 60 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Optometrists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2014-2024)
4,7005,60090019.11,700
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
4905506012.2140
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
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 6 new job openings per year is expected for Optometrists, plus an additional 14 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 20 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Optometrists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2014-2024)
100170260
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
61420
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
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

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.

Continuing Education

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 TitlePercent 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%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

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
  • Opticians
  • Optometrists
  • 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.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Optometrists with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
ChiropractorsProfile
Dentists, GeneralGuide
Ophthalmic Medical TechniciansProfile
OrthodontistsProfile
PodiatristsProfile

Other Sources

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.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification29-1041
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Optometrists29-1041.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)ISR