The medical and health care field is an industry which continuously prospers regardless of a country’s financial situation or economic rank. Why? It is because there will always be people who are in need of medical attention and usually, individuals do not give it a second thought when it comes to spending for improved health.
For people who intend to venture into the health care industry, they commonly think of becoming a doctor or nurse. Fascinatingly, optometry is not among the more popular choices. Is this a good field to get into? Would it also bring decent income like any other medical profession?
Factors Affecting the Earnings
Answering how much an optometrist makes in a year can be quite tricky. There are different factors which come into play when it comes to determining how much an optometrist can earn.
One thing to consider is the type of practice. Optometrists have the option to go for private practice. This requires setting up a clinic and handling business matters while juggling the needs of the patients. Another option is to be employed under a more prominent hospital or clinic. An in-house optometrist will technically be employed by the institution and income will depend on the rate per consult fees or monthly salary. Other optometrists work in partnership with major manufacturers. It means that the optometrist will be handling the medical side of the business while doing retailing for a company which manufactures eye glasses, contact lenses and other products which aid in visual enhancement.
According to the American Optometric Association, optometrists who have established their private practice earn more than those who are employed in hospitals, clinics and other institutions. This is mainly because their earnings are further boosted by the additional services that they provide plus the revenue from the eye care products which they sell to their patients. Hence, their revenue is not fixed to just the monthly salary. When the number of patients goes up, their profits increase too.
Location is another factor which affects the amount of income for optometrists. In areas where there is higher cost of living like bigger cities, earnings would be more lucrative. On the other hand, it is the other way around for the suburbs. For example, in the United States, optometrists in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco earn more compared to those in other areas.
It is the American Optometric Association which closely monitors the facts regarding salary for optometrists. In the recent data from AOA, the annual income of an optometrist can range within $120,000 up to $175,000. The median for the income in bigger cities is within $150,000. On the other hand, $100,000 up to $130,000 is a decent income for those who are not practicing within major cities
For those who just got into actual practice, the wage is usually much lower, especially if the experience is less than a year. For employed optometrists in the United States, the starting offer can be from $70,000 to $90,000. The determinant for start-up pay is based on educational background, internship performance or recommendations.
If different cities could cause variation is income, so could different countries. For example, in Canada, the revenue of optometrists is within $80,000 CAD up to $140,000. In Australia, the salary for optometrists ranges from AU$48,000 up to AU$100,000. In the United Kingdom, it is about £38, 000 per year.
Boosting the Income
Like any other jobs, there is always room for improvement and progress for optometrists. Whether they are doing private practice or they are employed in a hospital, there are ways on how to take their careers to a higher level. Of course, along with that is increase in salary.
Entry-level optometrists would need to make do with the initial offers to them. After all, this starting up in the profession is an opportunity to build a good reputation and be introduced to more patients. For example, the $90,000 initial salary for optometrists in the United States can go up after a year or two. This occurs once the individual has gained proper experience in the field.
Optometrists with five years of experience or more get better offers from institutions. Aside from that, people with this much experience are highly sought after by major eye care companies and premiere hospitals. Hence, income would be much higher too.
Another way to increase the income is to plunge into private practice. The catch with this option is that acquisition of patients should be personally done by the optometrist too. This means doing marketing and winning the trust of more clients. That is why, private practice is recommended for optometrists who already have a pool of loyal patients and years of experience in the business.
When venturing into private practice, it is also an excellent choice to provide various eye care products like prescription glasses, contact lenses and other products. Profit from these also makes up for the big chunk of the annual income that optometrists get.
One way for optometrists to establish their name in the field is to be an apprentice for a more tenured optometrist. Usually, being the protégé for a well-known optometrist is a great stepping stone especially for new practitioners. Being under the wing of an experienced optometrist is a good way to gain knowledge which can not be acquired from school and it is also an effective method of increasing one’s fees or salary once the apprenticeship is done.
Not all optometrists can perform the same eye care services. Usually, their job entails proper eye check up which determines common vision impairment, prescribing eye glasses and contact lenses or curing typical eye problems. However, there are optometrists who went into specialization, enabling them to perform more complex procedures. For example, others extend their stay in school to earn specialization in curing eye problems like cataracts, retinal dysfunction and other complexities. Such optometrists also have the option to assist in eye surgeries. Because of their specialization, consultation fees and salary would be much higher too. Ophthalmology also has certain degrees of intricacy. Acquiring further education and in-depth training could be a level up for their career.
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