I came across your website with career advice as I was
doing some research on optometry. I have just recently been accepted to
an optometry school in Florida. I have been shadowing an optometrist for the
last 5 months and I really enjoy the work. But I am apprehensive about the
career choice because I have heard so many negative things from different
people. What I mostly here is that there is a saturation of optometrist and
that finding a job is hard. I’ve also heard horror stories about retail practice.
All this really scares me because as you know optometry isn’t short nor cheap.
Being that you are a career adviser I wanted to know if you had any information
about all this. If you could help me out I would really appreciate it being that
I was accepted and need to make a decision soon.
The Career Doctor responds:
First I have to give you major kudos for doing as much research as you have
completed on your potential career field. Yours could be a case study for
other job-seekers… it’s important to ask these kinds of questions shadow
someone already working in the field and research all angles especially
where additional education is required.
The best source for your answers would be the optometry schools you are considering.
Ask them the tough questions about placement of their graduates — and about the
placement assistance they offer. Ask to speak to one or more of the faculty about
their views on the future.
My brother Wes another Dr. Hansen is an optometrist in Atlanta and has been for
quite a few years now so I asked him to comment on your questions — and here is what he said:
Optometry has always been a medical field with a retail side to it but unfortunately the
retailers like Pearle LensCrafters and the big-box places like Sam’s and Costco have
really pushed things into the hard sale retail arena. The retailers have taken over what
was traditionally the optometrist’s business and have now taken control of a good part of
the sales in the optical market. That said there are still plenty of opportunities for
private practice either in a solo or group or hospital setting. A small percentage of
optometrists go into research or go into public health. I’m not sure what the Florida job market is like but here in Atlanta where there is a somewhat saturated market a full time
optometrist can still find a full time job or do fill-in (locum tenens) work for other
established doctors and make a decent living. The going rate for fill-in work is in
excess of $400/day in my market.