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Starting Optometrist Salary

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by fonziefonz, 01.18.07.

  1. fonziefonz

    fonziefonz Class of 2011

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    I will be enrolling at Nova this coming August. Considering the massive debt I will be in, I was wondering what I should be expecting to make as an optometrist to start. I've read some websites and pamphlets with conflicting numbers, so I'm a bit confused. Also, what can I expect to be making after 5 years, 10 years, etc.? Thanks!
  2. tgp511

    tgp511

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    I don't know how much economics you have had, but starting salary will vary GREATLY depending on your location. The problem with the optometry market, which I'm sure you've heard about, is that there is a saturation of optometrists in many areas which are desirable to live in and are located near optometric colleges. Also, salary will vary depending on location, as the cost of living in, say, New York or Washington D.C. is generally higher than the cost of living in the midwest. The below salary data will give you an indication of this:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/specials/pages/55.html

    If you'll notice, optometrists in houston make ~54k a year on average, while optometrists in Greensboro, NC make ~150k a year on average. Some of this is due to the cost of living, but I live around 20 minutes away from Greensboro, and I can tell you that the cost of living there is no different than any other sub-urban area in the middle atlantic.

    In other words, in Greensboro there is a large demand for optometrists and/or limited supply, so salaries are high. In Houston, there is less demand for optometrist and/or more supply, so salaries are low.

    According to the data (which was gleaned from the bls.gov website, so it's fairly accurate), if you practice in say Richmond VA, avg salary of all optometrists is ~130k. So it would be reasonable to assume you could make 90-110k right out of school in the Richmond area. Look at the cost of housing to see how much this is relative to other parts of the country.
  3. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    Yea, the crime in Richmond, VA is pretty bad though. Also, VA removed the regional tuition rates at SCO in 2002 due to budget shortfalls, so there will be less OD students from VA. I was going to meet a Rep. in the general assembly to get some help to reestablish it, but I decided against it with all the saturation problems, etc.
  4. JMU07

    JMU07

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    i live right outside of richmond, it is terrible :( I'd love to move back home and practice when I'm done with school but I definitely wouldn't do it in the city.

    My OD went to SCO and was telling me how great it was that if I'm accepted there that I could get regional tuition, he didn't know they took them away a couple years ago.. I don't think VA has regional seats anywhere!:mad:
  5. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    SCO's VA students have sharply declined. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have less competition when you go back home. :)
  6. jlc111

    jlc111 New Member

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  7. BeccaR3014

    BeccaR3014

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    I live in downtown Richmond (fan area) and in response to the post I read earlier saying that Richmond is an area with a large crime rate, that's completely not true. Granted, you have your bad areas; however, that one particular bad area in Richmond is in a place not many people need to/have to visit and in no way would or should affect any optometrist in the Richmond Metro area. Frankly, I would be more than happy to practice in Richmond once I get out of school and on top of that, Richmond is becoming much more of an attractive city due to the many new developments in and around the city. Any person would be a fool to turn down a job offer with a starting salary of 90-110K a year in Richmond.
  8. ICOnut

    ICOnut

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    Working as an associate will pay $350/ day. It won't matter what your grades are, just that you have as OD degree. As an associate, learn about practice management since that will not be emphasized in school.
  9. stonegoat

    stonegoat

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    I have been practicing in rural western Canada for about 4 years. My experience has been great, and the money beyond what I expected. My first gig after optometry school was as an associate at a private practice in a town of ~ 15000. I had a guarenteed minimum of 100k/year, but made 125k in my first year. Second year 139K, third year 150K. Not bad. I have recently purchased my own practice, but once it is paid for (~5-7 years) I will make as a minimum 250K...assuming no increase in gross revenues over the next few years.
    The problem with the US is simply a supply/demand issue. Too many ODs, and the schools are to blame. Contrast that with western Canada, where many practice owners advertise for YEARS before getting an associate. I truly think that optometry in the US has to take a serious look at the supply/demand phenomenon, and reduce the number of new grads so that new eye doctors can earn an income more in-line with the educational costs and sacrifices they have made.

    JP
  10. fonziefonz

    fonziefonz Class of 2011

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    Is that Canadian or American dollars?
  11. luckyfool

    luckyfool SUNY Opt

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  12. JMU07

    JMU07

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    You're right, the Fan is a good part of town, but I still wouldn't want to work in the city, mostly because I just don't enjoy the city atmosphere. I'll stick to Chesterfield :) Do you go to VCU?
  13. orangezero

    orangezero Junior Member

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    There are many obstacles for this reduction to occur. A huge obstacle is that students are given erroneous numbers and ideas about salaries when they are looking at a career, and many of optometry's downsides are ignored or glossed over. Oversupply is not seen as a problem by most people that could make a difference, or if it is seen as a problem they use "anti-trust" as an excuse to avoid action.

    The way I see it, one of the few ways to help, is to be honest with people. IF you want to have a job as an optometrist, don't expect to make a ton of money. IF you want to work hard by starting your own practice, or buy into those already established then perhaps there is a chance for greater pay eventually, plus all the other benefits of ownership. However, more than ever, you still have to compete with those who are willing to work for a quick buck. And at the same time, more and more of the public finds these commercial venues as exceptable. Its getting harder not to with ***** ODs performing punctal occlusion, managing glaucoma, etc in settings such as walmart and in most (not all) cases getting 20-60% of the usual rate. They may make it up in volume probably, but essentially it yells out to the community that our services aren't worth much, and is constantly reinforced by advertising. A very few charge appropriately, and I'm guessing they will chime in with a response. But the fact remains that our services are not seen as valuable in this day and age by a great majority of people. There are some private offices that project this stereotype as well, but its mostly the Rx mills.

    Oh, add on to this that there are also those that do respect what we do, but would rather go to an ophthalmologist for whatever reason. And there are also a great number of people who will still go their primary care physician for "medical" eye care. I think the fact that there is so much patient confusion about what we are trained to do, and the fact that there is so much overlapping of services, and the fact that there are negative stereotypes of ODs in virtually every town all adds up to an uphill battle for the recent grad that wants to be successful. It can happen, but these are things that I think most students are not aware of and the schools do a poor job explaining.
  14. orangezero

    orangezero Junior Member

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    Back to the original poster:

    If you go commercial, you can probably expect to make a bit more starting out. However, the only way for you to make more money after that is to see more patients, which sounds until you actually attempt to do it. I worked at a walmart right after graduation where the exam fee was $40. Looking back in patients charts, I could see the exam fee had been $40 for at least 6-8 years, perhaps longer. I've heard of places that actually lower their fees over time. Lowering fees means more patients for the optical, so they always push it. But you get less. Make sense?

    Hoping to start out in retail and then move to private is fraught with danger, as you will be used to making a good salary and then having to starve for a bit until you can pull together a successful practice on your own. The only way I see this working is to work at commercial for a while, try not to get burned out on optometry, and live like a college student. You still need to push off extra spending at the time in your life when you actually have some money and feel justified in doing so. This generally is a mistake, a trap if you will, and a lot of the corporate settings know this. Its really a great strategy they've devised, I've seen a lot of people smarter than me fall for it and get trapped so much so that they can't leave and start private (well, they could, but it would be difficult because they didnt' save anything)

    good luck. look more towards the low numbers, but like others have said it can vary widely and also realize that not all ODs look for money as the deciding factor. Some will work for 30% less just to work in their hometown. Things like that.

    I just look at a corporate environment as renting an apartment for 50 years just because you don't like to mow the lawn. Oh, and the landlord can kick you out at any time. And can raise his rent (ie lower your income) at any time as well.
  15. hye345

    hye345

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    bookmarking
  16. optometrist123

    optometrist123

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    There are a lot of factors... Supply and demand. It depends on where you want to live. If you are open to relocation you can do well. tgp511 gave you a good link. I don't want to repeat what is in my site but look here:

    http://www.connateholdings.com/optometry/pay.php

    The bottom line is that if you move somewhere with a good cost of living and live a little below your means early on coupling that with saving, you can make a very nice living.


    optometrist123
    http://www.connateholdings.com/optometry/
  17. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    Optometry is more business-oriented than any other allied health professions.
    You are not only selling a service, but a product. People pick and choose their optometrists like Jelly Bean flavors. they can switch one to another very easily, unlike choosing a PCP or a dentist.

    An optometrist that bought a thriving-existing practice in my hometown couldn't stay in business longer than 2 years. He lacked communication skills; should have been an OD professor. :smuggrin:
  18. Harper Quinn

    Harper Quinn

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    thanks I found this information fairly useful. :)
    Last edited: 11.09.11
  19. soniat2

    soniat2

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    This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many factors that come into play. Generally speaking, optometrists who work in commercial settings and are employed by places such as Walmart make less than many other optometrists. BUT, a private practice optometrist who has poor patient interaction skills, poor clinical skills, practices in a location with too many established optometrists, or possibly in a small town with a small population may make less than you would expect. BUT, progressive well educated doctors who build a good practice based upon their clinical skills, office facilities, and reputation for service can be very well rewarded.

    In these situations it would not be unheard of for an optometrist to make $400,000 to $500,000 per year. And some may even make more. Optometrists who work as partners within a partnership generally make more than other optometrists because of the ability to share common expenses such as facilities, employees, and instrumentation between the partners. As to a fresh graduate who goes into a practice as an employee having not purchased a partnership, I would say a starting salary of 60,000 to 75,000 would be in the neighborhood. This can vary greatly, though, based upon the type of practice and the graduates ability to produce income for the practice.

    As in any occupation, though, there will always be those who simply don't have the business skills necessary to be highly succesful and in those cases the optometrist might make only 40,000 or so. Recently I submitted my essays about optometry. in my essay discuss all of these points specifically.salary is relay depends upon YOU as to what type of person you are and what type of practice you create.
  20. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe

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    Hey, way to bring back a 4 year old thread. :D

    Just one correction. You will be hard pressed to find ANY OD making (net) $400,00-$500,000/year. There may be 1 or 2 in the country (if they are selling crack and whores on the side) but I even doubt that.
  21. east

    east

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    400k net is very difficult but not unheard of. I have that on very good authority...and just to clarify the crack is sold but the whores are only rented :D
  22. DawgOD

    DawgOD SCO C/o 2014

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    Actually.. there are optometrists who make that much.. even more actually.. there are some who net over 1 MIL..
  23. Jason K

    Jason K

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    There are also fireman who make 200K/year working overtime, but the point is, someone considering a career in firefighting would be foolish, and very likely disappointed, if they enter the profession expecting that income level. The vast majority of ODs in training right now will have career incomes that top out right around 100K, maybe even lower with the continued uncontrolled printing of ODs.
  24. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe

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    Maybe. But then again, there are few singers that make millions per year with thousand and thousands of other singers making minimum wage waiting tables.

    In other words, you are talking about the very rare outliers.

    If you have seen the tax returns of the OD netting over 1 million dollars, I will believe you. Otherwise, you're just believing what someone tells you. ODs are KNOWN liars and exaggerators. I can't tell you have many "million dollar practices" I've seen that are actually dumps crammed between a hair parlor and tattoo shop in run down strip malls. They were lucky to make $50,000/yr.

    But if we are going off verbal claims, I netted $5 million last year. :):rofl:

    To net $1 million dollars, the OD would have to make $335 million gross revenues to the office. If we assume $200 per pt (a reasonable amount)-- to make $3 million, you'd have to see 16,750 patients per year. (The average OD sees 2,000-2,300 patients per year).

    There is 52 weeks in a year. Take just 2 weeks for vacation and a week for C.E. So you have 49 weeks to make that large sum of money.

    If you divide that out, you'd have to see 68 patients per day, five days a week. If you work on Saturday too.......pumping away constantly six days a week (never seeing your family and missing all your kids school events), you'd have to see 57 patients per day.

    I offer to you that there are VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY few ODs on the planet seeing 68 patients per day six days a week.

    That's what it would take to net $1 million dollars per year in Optometry. HIGHLY unlikely.:banana:
    Last edited: 11.22.11
  25. DawgOD

    DawgOD SCO C/o 2014

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    One word.. Banzai..
    Last edited: 11.22.11
  26. east

    east

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    400K net solo practice do-able, 1000K net solo practice I'm going to say next to impossible.
  27. KHE

    KHE Senior Member SDN Advisor

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    I can not fathom any doctor netting over one million dollars by themselves. It would have to be a large, multi location operation that had a number of ODs working for him or her.
  28. CL Doc

    CL Doc

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    Amazing how gullible some people can be.

    There is no way an OD is going to make a million dollars.
  29. DawgOD

    DawgOD SCO C/o 2014

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    whatever. who are you to call me gullible? I know what I'm talking about. Whether you believe me or not.. thats your decision, but don't insult my integrity.
    Last edited: 11.22.11
  30. Ben Chudner

    Ben Chudner Senior Member Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor SDN Advisor

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    Actually, there is a way an OD is going to make a million dollars. As KHE said, it won't be done in a solo practice. I think even the 400k is fairly unrealistic for a solo practice, although not impossible. There are large regional practices that have locations that number in the double digits that are owned by optometrists. I can think of one OD that has 15 locations with 28 OD's working for him. These are all nice clinics with state of the art equipment and high end frames - not Lenscrafters, Wal-Mart, Pearle Vision, etc. Each office is no different from a regular private practice other than the fact that they are all owned by one guy. This is just one example. I can think of at least 2 others and I am sure there are a couple that I don't know about. The point is that these situations are not the norm, nor can they probably be repeated in today's market.
  31. CL Doc

    CL Doc

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    OK, prove it
  32. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe

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    Yes, I would like for you to prove it as well. Unless you are this ODs accountant, there is no way possible for you to know what someone is making.

    So that's about 4 of us (real, practicing ODs) saying you are incorrect and gullible. Ok, it's your turn to counter with proof (not insults or speculation).

    (Did iemily make in on here again??:oops:)
    Last edited: 11.24.11
  33. east

    east

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    I know in my state an OD is prohibited by law from owning more practices than he/she can physically work in for at least 2 full days per week. This means at most 3 offices. Not sure about other states but this seems reasonable to avoid monopolistic consequences.

    With 3 crazy busy offices and with proper billing/coding/heavy medical care, and thriving opticals, 1M net is I guess within the theoretical realm of possibility.

    Note: most new grads should expect a difficult road to private practice, and a starting income of appx. 70K full time.
    Last edited: 11.23.11
  34. CL Doc

    CL Doc

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    Agree.

    Anyone in optometry school needs to realize they will probably only make $70 to $80 grand when they graduate. Anyone who thinks they will make anywhere near a million bucks a year is living in a fantasy world.
  35. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    Banzai is a group of ODs that gross 1 MIL or over. Not NET.
  36. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    I would say 80-90 for private practice jobs, 100-120k for corporate jobs just out of school.

    I know many classmates that sublease busy corporate locations with proper billing are taking home 150k+. May require you to work 6 days/week and weekends though.

    The gap between private practice salaries and corporate salaries is increasing.

    Like it or not, every year private practice's share of the pie is shrinking. Even VSP (formerly private practice insurance) has gone corporate!!
  37. Jason K

    Jason K

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    I think 80-90 for PP positions right out of school is on the generous side. I'm sure there are some that do that, but on average, the 70-80 is much more in line with the numbers I hear about. The real concern is that there are so few ODs getting PP jobs right out of school.

    I totally agree that the gap between PP and corporate salaries increasing and will only get worse. Eventually, the corporate salaries will start to drop once the glut of ODs gets to a point that they no longer have to attract docs.
  38. CL Doc

    CL Doc

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    Maybe they don't learn the difference between gross and net until the third year.

    :laugh:
  39. DawgOD

    DawgOD SCO C/o 2014

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    thats the requirement to get in banzai... again.. I know optometrist who GROSS 1 mil. I have no reason to lie to you all.. What am I gaining from it? Some of you on here are always so negative and as soon as someone posts something you have NO knowledge about, you cast stones. Real sad. Grow up.
    Last edited: 11.24.11
  40. KHE

    KHE Senior Member SDN Advisor

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    This is your posting from earlier on in this thread.

    That is your quotation a few posts later.

    Would you care to clarify what you mean there? Are you talking gross or net? Gross practice or net practice? Gross personal income or net personal income?

    Everyone agrees that there are plenty of docs who's practices gross over a million. That's a far far faaaaaar cry from a doctor putting a million dollars into his personal checking account every year.
  41. CL Doc

    CL Doc

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    At first you're claiming ODs NET a million, now you're saying GROSS.

    There's a HUGE difference.


    Why is it every time one of you students get challenged on something you have to respond with the same "you must have a lousy practice crap"?
  42. Meibomian SxN

    Meibomian SxN

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=E_8dv-lM4ho

    [YOUTUBE]<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/E_8dv-lM4ho" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/YOUTUBE]

    I know I'm old now. Someone PLZ tell me how you imbed Youtube clips to the messages :oops:
    Last edited: 11.25.11
  43. DawgOD

    DawgOD SCO C/o 2014

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    this is my last post in this thread.

    To become a member.. you must gross atleast 1 Mil.. From my understanding it is not business gross.. but personal.


    Funny how you're getting all sensitive when you are the one who called me gullible, and THEN said i didn't know the difference b/w gross and net... I said nothing about your practice. NOTHING. What I said is that you KNOW nothing about the subject at hand..
  44. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    OK guys lets stop waving our e-penises around and talk about actual averages not outliers please.
  45. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    $100,000 if adjusted for full-time. Most optos out there work part-time. So if you work only 30 hours a week or so you will take gross $75,000 which is actually more beneficial being in the lower tax bracket but at the same time benefits are not present if you work part-time.

    Its a good field for women, I'll agree with that. As a man I hope to start my own practice one day or partner in/buy in even if it requires much more work to be done.

    Anyways, I think the averages in the article are a bit inflated.
  46. stoikiometry

    stoikiometry

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    [YOUTUBE]E_8dv-lM4ho[/YOUTUBE]
    Youtube videos are usually identified by 11 characters. Your video's ID is "E_8dv-lM4ho" This is how you use the youtube tag:
    Code:
    [YOUTUBE]E_8dv-lM4ho[/YOUTUB[b][/b]E]
  47. CL Doc

    CL Doc

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    You won't hear from ODs netting $500k to $1 Million here because there too busy working 8 days a week. Those 24 hour work days don't leave any time for cyber surfing.

    :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:
  48. Jason K

    Jason K

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    Optometrist
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I've come across this article before - it always makes me laugh. I'm not sure what profession the author of this piece was writing about, but surely it's not optometry. "The average optometry salary can range from 100K to 500K??" This kind of stuff is exactly why people are getting duped into optometry careers. I wouldn't be surprised if some past AOA president or OD school was behind the writing of the article in the first place. If anyone going to optometry school now thinks that they can expect to "average" 100K to 200K out of school, they're getting set up for some serious heartache when they come to rest in an OD box next to the vacuum cleaners and a Vitamix demo and they're pulling home $40/hr as an IC.
  49. M281384

    M281384

    Joined:
    10.24.11
    Messages:
    87
    Status:
    Pre-Optometry
    That's incorrect. I PERSONALLY know of 2 in my own city that make >500,000 a year. Albeit they have multiple practices and hire ODs to work for them at a reduced rate.
  50. CL Doc

    CL Doc

    Joined:
    11.22.11
    Messages:
    172
    Status:
    Optometrist
    Not Again...

    Why is it that only pre-opts know these mythical megabuck ODs and not any of us that actually practice the profession???

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