Will attending optometry school be worth leaving a $50,000-$60,000/year income?

mls2od

New Member
Apr 24, 2011
3
1
  1. Pre-Optometry
    I realize that money isn't everything, but in this economy it has to be considered. Long story short, I obtained my degree in Medical Technology instead of biology in order to ensure job security after college. Three years after finishing my degree, I now work as a medical laboratory scientist (ASCP) and I make a pretty good living, especially when you take into consideration that I have very little student loan debt. So here's my question, is the debt accumulation that will be associated with optometry school worth leaving a career that pays $55,000/year? Based on the math, I have concluded that it will take ~17 years (after I finish optometry school) before I actually receive any financial gains in this profession.

    Once again, I want to stress that I do not think that money is everything when it comes to being satisfied with one's career. However, it is an important component to living a comfortable life. Yes, doing what you love is one thing. Making uniformed decisions in the process is something else. I just want to make sure that I look at this from every possible angle before I apply. My grades are competitive for optometry school. However, I would like to see what kind of responses I get from this thread before I dish out nearly $1,500 on KAPLAN'S OAT Course.

    Thanks





    Here's the math:

    (Student Loan Debt From Optometry School) + (Net loss of 4 years salary) = Years Before Financial Gains Are Obtained
    (Optometrist Salary) - (Medical Laboratory Scientist Salary)



    Further breakdown of the numbers:
    If I attend optometry school I will accumulate approximately $200,000 in debt (tuition/fees/cost of living) + a loss of $220,000 (4 years salary that will be lost while attending optometry school)
    $200,000 + $220,000 = approximately $420,000 (net loss/net debt)

    The average salary for an optometrist is approximately $80,000/year
    The average salary of a MLS is $55,000-$60,000/year. I'll be conservative and say $55,000/year

    $80,000 - $55,000 = $25,000
    Meaning that if I make $80,000/year as an optometrist, I will earn $25,000/year more than I currently make as a medical laboratory scientist.

    If I earn ~$25,000/year more as an optometrist, this means that it will be ~17 years before I see any financial gains from this decision:
    $420,000(net debt) / $25,0000(salary difference) = 16.8 years




     
    Last edited:

    naus

    Junior Member
    15+ Year Member
    Oct 18, 2004
    391
    28
      I think you answered your own question.

      Furthermore, someone who makes $50k now will eventually be promoted and may one day make $100k.

      So no, it's not really worth it.

      Even MD may not be worth it for someone in your situation.
       
      Last edited:
      About the Ads

      Commando303

      Full Member
      10+ Year Member
      7+ Year Member
      Mar 12, 2009
      911
      19
        I realize that money isn’t everything, but in this economy it has to be considered. Long story short, I obtained my degree in Medical Technology instead of biology in order to ensure job security after college. Three years after finishing my degree, I now work as a medical laboratory scientist (ASCP) and I make a pretty good living, especially when you take into consideration that I have very little student loan debt. So here’s my question, is the debt accumulation that will be associated with optometry school worth leaving a career that pays $55,000/year? Based on the math, I have concluded that it will take ~17 years (after I finish optometry school) before I actually receive any financial gains in this profession.

        Once again, I want to stress that I do not think that money is everything when it comes to being satisfied with one's career. However, it is an important component to living a comfortable life. Yes, doing what you love is one thing. Making uniformed decisions in the process is something else. I just want to make sure that I look at this from every possible angle before I apply. My grades are competitive for optometry school. However, I would like to see what kind of responses I get from this thread before I dish out nearly $1,500 on KAPLAN'S OAT Course.

        Thanks




        Here's the math:

        (Student Loan Debt From Optometry School) + (Net loss of 4 years salary) = Years Before Financial Gains Are Obtained
        (Optometrist Salary) - (Medical Laboratory Scientist Salary)



        Further breakdown of the numbers:
        If I attend optometry school I will accumulate approximately $200,000 in debt (tuition/fees/cost of living) + a loss of $220,000 (4 years salary that will be lost while attending optometry school)
        $200,000 + $220,000 = approximately $420,000 (net loss/net debt)

        The average salary for an optometrist is approximately $80,000/year
        The average salary of a MLS is $55,000-$60,000/year. I'll be conservative and say $55,000/year

        $80,000 - $55,000 = $25,000
        Meaning that if I make $80,000/year as an optometrist, I will earn $25,000/year more than I currently make as a medical laboratory scientist.

        If I earn ~$25,000/year more as an optometrist, this means that it will be ~17 years before I see any financial gains from this decision:
        $420,000(net debt) / $25,0000(salary difference) = 16.8 years

        I really am not sure what your question is: your post details how you've considered the situation from both a personal and a financial perspective. What do you suppose you might hear from others, in this regard? No one can tell you whether it'll be worth it to you, personally, and your numbers aren't so unreasonable as to elicit any correction.
         

        Optogal

        Full Member
        10+ Year Member
        Jan 23, 2010
        437
        69
        1. Optometrist
          Do you get tax write-offs in your current job?

          The 55K vs 80K comparison isn't that straightforward. That 80K might actually be 110K with 30K in deductions (your car, your "office" expenses, your equipment costs etc.).

          Another consideration is taxes: your 80K (if it really is "just" 80K) won't amount to 25K more/year. 80K after taxes vs 55K after taxes will not amount to a gain of 25K.
           

          CurrySpice

          Full Member
          10+ Year Member
          Jan 26, 2008
          494
          1
          1. Pre-Veterinary
            I don't see enough relevant information in your post.

            Do you like your job? Or do you at least not hate your job?

            Why do you want to be an optometrist? Is it your dream profession? Do you know enough about the field that you have a realistic view of the job?

            Is having a 9-5 you love more important than having extra money to throw around on weekends? Will you be upset with the different quality of life as a student versus a working professional?

            Do you want to start a family in the next few years? How will their quality of life be affected?

            etc. etc. etc.

            ...and Optogal makes a great point about taxes! 80k isn't actually 80k once the government finds out you're making that much money.
             

            Hoffy

            Full Member
            Jan 6, 2011
            50
            0
            1. Pre-Optometry
              What are your reasons for choosing optometry versus any other career field? You don't have to change professions completely to advance in your career providing you like it. Just curious as your motivations to go to optometry school versus (as someone mentioned) pursuing an MPH or something similar.
               

              Shnurek

              Membership Revoked
              Removed
              10+ Year Member
              Apr 10, 2010
              2,335
              9
              NYC
              1. Optometry Student
                I left a job where I was making $60K to pursue a career in optometry... I'll let you know in about 17 years if it was worth it ;)

                Good for you! Follow your dreams I say.

                To the OP: This is a very personal and life changing choice and obviously we cannot provide you with anything really except objective data such as finances, everything else lies with you and your close ones. Your calculations seem decent except I might put the OD salary a bit higher and you won't be paying taxes in school so def need to account for taxes. Also if you ever run your own private practice/partner, your salary will go up along with your deductibles.
                 

                mls2od

                New Member
                Apr 24, 2011
                3
                1
                1. Pre-Optometry
                  Thank you for your responses. I really do appreciate the feedback. To answer the majority of your questions, optometry has always appealed to me for a number of reasons:

                  1)The opportunity to achieve an education on the doctoral level that entails more patient interaction.

                  2) Optometry is a career that provides a healthy balance between one's professional and social life.

                  3) I am genuinely interested in the subject of optometry as a whole. Optics was my favorite component of college physics and one of my favorites chapters in anatomy and physiology.

                  4) I see a lot of growth within the field of optometry as the profession's scope continues to expand (Ex: Oklahoma and Kentucky).

                  5) I enjoy what I currently do, but know I could be a lot happier doing something else. After shadowing physicians and optometrists alike, I find optometry more appealing for the reason I stated in #2.

                  6) As far as my job as a MLS is concerned, there is very little patient interaction in the lab, and this is something I would like to see more of, as I stated in #1. The only time I do see patients is when I perform drug screens and breathe alcohol testing on hospital employees and truck drivers for the Department of Transportation, which is usually post-accident or reasonable suspicion. As you can imagine, there is nothing exciting about doing a breathe alcohol test on some guy that that has just careened his 18-wheeler into someone's car, killing an entire family in the process, or performing drug/alcohol testing on an intoxicated doctor or nurse. I never seem to meet patients under pleasant circumstances.

                  In regards to obtaining an MBA, I have thought about it. I know that it is the most economically sound decision to make. I was even accepted to the MBA program at University of Houston, but I know that's not what I want to do. The only reason I even applied was because so many people told me that it would be the best decision to make. On the other hand, I know I would be miserable setting in an office all day doing paperwork. I'm way too interested in science to pursue a career in business. Many people said, "Go to medical school instead of optometry school. You'll have more options" so I took the MCAT and actually did quite well. However, when the interviews came, I knew that I was making a mistake, so I chose not to attend them. The thing is, nothing has ever appealed to me in the way that optometry seems to. My main problem lies in the fact that I'm am an approval seeker. That's why I made this thread, why I chose to obtain a B.S. in Medical Technology instead of Biology, why I initially picked medical school over optometry school, and why I have yet to pursue the one career that I seem to be most interested in. Strangely enough, I just realized that about myself as I was typing out this response. It's funny how the writing process seems to clarify jumbled details in one's mind.

                  On a more positive note, my brother, an officer in the Air Force, just informed me about a scholarship that the military offers to MDs, DOs, DDS, and ODs. This scholarship will pay for all four years of optometry school, while providing a competitive monthly stipend. In return, I'd just have to provide four years of military service as an optometrist. Since I am only 26, single, and have no children, I think this would be the best route to go. Apparently, the Army offers a very impressive scholarship package as well. Either way, I am going to investigate these options more thoroughly before doing anything rash. I appreciate all of your replies. I found them to be quite helpful.
                  Sorry for the long post. I think it successfully answers everyone's questions.

                  Thanks
                   
                  Last edited:
                  • Like
                  Reactions: 1 user
                  About the Ads

                  mclem222

                  Full Member
                  5+ Year Member
                  Apr 13, 2011
                  202
                  3
                  1. Optometrist
                    If you are interested in the eye, it is totally worth it. If you are looking at it as just a financial gain (aka job) and not a career it probably wont be worth it. Too much work in school. My brother had 4-5 people in his med school class who essentially told everyone they wanted to do medicine for the money. By the end of their first year they all had quit or gotten kicked out for failing classes. I think you need to have the drive to help people. A study was done in Michigan looking at happiness and income and the cut off was 75K. Below 75K, your happiness correlates with income. If you earn 30K on average you were less happy than someone earning 50K. But above 75K there was no difference and someone earning 75K and 500K on average had equal levels of happiness (on average). Apparently once your daily needs are met, more stuff doesn't make you more happy. Just food for thought. I would be an optometrist even if I earned 50K because I love my job but obviously different people are motivated differently. If you are looking at it as a financial investment, you probably wont be happy in school where 4 years you will be accruing debt and then building a career. My brother was a trader on wall st and made about 450-550 K a year before going to medical school. He makes a lot less now but is a lot more happier as a OMD
                     

                    IndianaOD

                    Full Member
                    10+ Year Member
                    Feb 14, 2007
                    1,146
                    3
                    1. Optometrist
                      Does your current job have benefits on top of the $55k? Medical, dental, vacation, retirement/401k? If so you are receiving far more than $55k. The average optometrist has none of those benefits and they are all out of pocket.
                       

                      thecgrblue

                      Enjoyin' the journey
                      10+ Year Member
                      Jul 6, 2009
                      794
                      18

                        On a more positive note, my brother, an officer in the Air Force, just informed me about a scholarship that the military offers to MDs, DOs, DDS, and ODs. This scholarship will pay for all four years of optometry school, while providing a competitive monthly stipend. In return, I'd just have to provide four years of military service as an optometrist. Since I am only 26, single, and have no children, I think this would be the best route to go. Apparently, the Army offers a very impressive scholarship package as well. Either way, I am going to investigate these options more thoroughly before doing anything rash. I appreciate all of your replies. I found them to be quite helpful.
                        Sorry for the long post. I think it successfully answers everyone’s questions.

                        Thanks

                        It is not completely that case. This is what I've learned from talking with recruiters

                        Navy is currently the only branch that offers 4-year scholarships through HPSP. Very few 4-years are awarded.

                        Army offers 3 years max.

                        Air Force offers 2 years max scholarship with a req'd 3 years of service.

                        As far as deployments; Army is said to be the worst (meaning they happen more frequently and are longer).

                        Good call for looking into it more, I've been looking into it for a while and still trying to decide if I'm going to go for a 3-year scholarship
                         

                        Meibomian SxN

                        Full Member
                        10+ Year Member
                        Feb 2, 2008
                        706
                        4
                        1. Optometrist
                          Get a MBA or MPH to advance your Medical tech career.

                          I agree. The cost of the MBA/MPH would be far less than the OD degree. With your experience and these degrees, you could easily become a practice administrator etc.

                          If you were looking into getting into patient care, then I would recommend nursing (even over the MD degree). Hours are more stable, excellent pay and cost of the degree is a lot less. Good luck :xf:
                           

                          cjensen20

                          Full Member
                          5+ Year Member
                          Air Force
                          Mar 17, 2011
                          125
                          2
                          1. Optometrist
                            It is not completely that case. This is what I've learned from talking with recruiters

                            Navy is currently the only branch that offers 4-year scholarships through HPSP. Very few 4-years are awarded.

                            Army offers 3 years max.

                            Air Force offers 2 years max scholarship with a req'd 3 years of service.

                            As far as deployments; Army is said to be the worst (meaning they happen more frequently and are longer).

                            Good call for looking into it more, I've been looking into it for a while and still trying to decide if I'm going to go for a 3-year scholarship

                            correction, as of this fiscal year...info from what ive acquired from recruiters

                            Army offers 4 years, but it is very competitive

                            Air Force offers 3 years, but again pretty competitive

                            navy offers 4 years and is competitive

                            the Public Health corps accepts optometrists, but their loan payback program doesnt include optometrists - though the funds are there - this is currently trying to be lobbyied for...

                            once again, its up to you
                            school is tough...market is slimmer than the schools would have us believe.
                            remember its 4 years, and a lot of debt and stress...
                            though, if its your dream, of course it would be worth it, if its just financial..maybe not so worth it.

                            have you ever thought about becoming a technician instead, or in addition to what you are doing?
                             
                            Last edited:

                            mls2od

                            New Member
                            Apr 24, 2011
                            3
                            1
                            1. Pre-Optometry
                              Does your current job have benefits on top of the $55k? Medical, dental, vacation, retirement/401k? If so you are receiving far more than $55k. The average optometrist has none of those benefits and they are all out of pocket.

                              I do receive benefits, such as retirement and vacation time. However, my health/dental insurance is deducted from my paycheck every pay period. Since I pay for it, I don't really consider it to be much of a "benefit." The $55,000 I quoted is my gross annual salary. To further break things down, I usually gross around $2,100 every pay period (two weeks) and net around $1,500 (two weeks). That's after taxes and health/dental insurance are deducted. So I guess you could say that my net annual salary is $39,000/year.

                              As far as advancement is concerned, there is a slim chance that a MLS will ever gross more than $60,000/year, and that's with several years of experience. With that in mind, it's apparent that I am very close to peaking in my current profession. I DO NOT WANT TO PEAK OUT by the time I'M 30! As far as the lab is concerned, the only two options for advancement are to get an MBA and work behind a desk, or go to medical school and become a pathologist. There has been talk about ASCLS developing a DCLS (Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science) in order to provide a new position in healthcare that is designed to cut cost and increase patient satisfaction. This position would bridge the gap between the lab and other healthcare professionals (a liaison for the lab). There duties would entail: educating patients on various testing procedures (if they have questions), educating physicians on new/advanced testing options that are available, reducing healthcare cost associated with unnecessarily testing, managing the laboratory, etc. However, much like Ophthalmologists do not want to see Optometrists doing minor surgeries, Pathologists do not want to see the DCLS implemented into the lab setting. They do not want to see another type of doctor doing what they are supposed to do, but simply have no time to do. There efforts have severely hindered ASCLS from implimenting this new professon. To wrap things up, there is no room for growth in my field. To me, that's important.
                               

                              cjensen20

                              Full Member
                              5+ Year Member
                              Air Force
                              Mar 17, 2011
                              125
                              2
                              1. Optometrist
                                I agree. The cost of the MBA/MPH would be far less than the OD degree. With your experience and these degrees, you could easily become a practice administrator etc.

                                If you were looking into getting into patient care, then I would recommend nursing (even over the MD degree). Hours are more stable, excellent pay and cost of the degree is a lot less. Good luck :xf:


                                i agree...ever though of nursing?
                                there are always a need for nurses, and even in eye surgery

                                or ever thought about being a PA?

                                investment is smaller, but you might be earning more than you are (depending on where you work) in a shorter amount of time
                                 

                                Dr Gump

                                SDN Mentor
                                10+ Year Member
                                Jun 20, 2007
                                60
                                4
                                1. Optometrist
                                  I realize that money isn’t everything, but in this economy it has to be considered. Long story short, I obtained my degree in Medical Technology instead of biology in order to ensure job security after college. Three years after finishing my degree, I now work as a medical laboratory scientist (ASCP) and I make a pretty good living, especially when you take into consideration that I have very little student loan debt. So here’s my question, is the debt accumulation that will be associated with optometry school worth leaving a career that pays $55,000/year? Based on the math, I have concluded that it will take ~17 years (after I finish optometry school) before I actually receive any financial gains in this profession.

                                  Once again, I want to stress that I do not think that money is everything when it comes to being satisfied with one's career. However, it is an important component to living a comfortable life. Yes, doing what you love is one thing. Making uniformed decisions in the process is something else. I just want to make sure that I look at this from every possible angle before I apply. My grades are competitive for optometry school. However, I would like to see what kind of responses I get from this thread before I dish out nearly $1,500 on KAPLAN'S OAT Course.

                                  Thanks




                                  Here's the math:

                                  (Student Loan Debt From Optometry School) + (Net loss of 4 years salary) = Years Before Financial Gains Are Obtained
                                  (Optometrist Salary) - (Medical Laboratory Scientist Salary)



                                  Further breakdown of the numbers:
                                  If I attend optometry school I will accumulate approximately $200,000 in debt (tuition/fees/cost of living) + a loss of $220,000 (4 years salary that will be lost while attending optometry school)
                                  $200,000 + $220,000 = approximately $420,000 (net loss/net debt)

                                  The average salary for an optometrist is approximately $80,000/year
                                  The average salary of a MLS is $55,000-$60,000/year. I'll be conservative and say $55,000/year

                                  $80,000 - $55,000 = $25,000
                                  Meaning that if I make $80,000/year as an optometrist, I will earn $25,000/year more than I currently make as a medical laboratory scientist.

                                  If I earn ~$25,000/year more as an optometrist, this means that it will be ~17 years before I see any financial gains from this decision:
                                  $420,000(net debt) / $25,0000(salary difference) = 16.8 years

                                  I can understand your situation quite well. I left a vocation (Radiation Therapy) that paid me $80,000 +/year for Optometry. It has turned out well because I did not limit myself to the norms. I'll get to that later.

                                  You have quite an advantage over typical Optometry students. You already have professional initials behind your name. Those initials will allow you to work for a decent salary during Optometry school. At least they allowed me to do so.

                                  Being a Med Tech, you are in demand. You could work a few shifts on some weekends and you could definately work during breaks in semesters. This extra income could subsidize some of your student loan debt. It did mine.

                                  I used a Locums Tenems service to find work between semesters and it worked out nicely. My student loan debt was only $70,000 when I graduated.

                                  Going in the Armed Services is definately an option, but I think working a little during Optometry school would work better. No strings attached after graduation.

                                  As far as looking at average salaries, don't limit yourself to those numbers. Many Optometrists exceed those figures, they just work harder. It is like anything else in life....the harder you work the more benefits you will enjoy.

                                  I am ten years removed from Optometry school and have a very successful practice. Retirement is the next goal and it is within reach.

                                  Optometry is a very nice vocation. It allows you autonomy and a nice income. There is no ceiling for the salary, unlike Medical Technology. You will have some "fun" dealing with third party payors, but the patient care justifies that hassle.

                                  Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

                                  Dr. Gump
                                   

                                  Shnurek

                                  Membership Revoked
                                  Removed
                                  10+ Year Member
                                  Apr 10, 2010
                                  2,335
                                  9
                                  NYC
                                  1. Optometry Student
                                    I'd go the PA route. They get paid the same as optometrists. And you can jump around in specialties and only 2 years vs 4 for OD. The reason why I am becoming an optometrist is because I am 100% set on eyes and I will probably own my own practice/partner hopefully not too long after school. (My calculations project I will come out with no debt - state school low tuition, still living with parents). I am 22 btw. So yea lots of options in healthcare.
                                     

                                    thecgrblue

                                    Enjoyin' the journey
                                    10+ Year Member
                                    Jul 6, 2009
                                    794
                                    18
                                      correction, as of this fiscal year...info from what ive acquired from recruiters

                                      Army offers 4 years, but it is very competitive

                                      Air Force offers 3 years, but again pretty competitive

                                      navy offers 4 years and is competitive

                                      the Public Health corps accepts optometrists, but their loan payback program doesnt include optometrists - though the funds are there - this is currently trying to be lobbyied for...

                                      once again, its up to you
                                      school is tough...market is slimmer than the schools would have us believe.
                                      remember its 4 years, and a lot of debt and stress...
                                      though, if its your dream, of course it would be worth it, if its just financial..maybe not so worth it.

                                      have you ever thought about becoming a technician instead, or in addition to what you are doing?

                                      REALLY?! Man they change it around so much. You hear this from the AMEDD recruiters or the normal ones?
                                       

                                      KHE

                                      Senior Member
                                      15+ Year Member
                                      Jun 14, 2005
                                      3,354
                                      370
                                      1. Optometrist
                                        I do receive benefits, such as retirement and vacation time. However, my health/dental insurance is deducted from my paycheck every pay period. Since I pay for it, I don't really consider it to be much of a "benefit." The $55,000 I quoted is my gross annual salary. To further break things down, I usually gross around $2,100 every pay period (two weeks) and net around $1,500 (two weeks). That's after taxes and health/dental insurance are deducted. So I guess you could say that my net annual salary is $39,000/year.

                                        Do you pay for 100% of your health insurance? Your employer contriubtes nothing?

                                        As far as advancement is concerned, there is a slim chance that a MLS will ever gross more than $60,000/year, and that's with several years of experience. With that in mind, it's apparent that I am very close to peaking in my current profession. I DO NOT WANT TO PEAK OUT by the time I'M 30! As far as the lab is concerned, the only two options for advancement are to get an MBA and work behind a desk, or go to medical school and become a pathologist. There has been talk about ASCLS developing a DCLS (Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science) in order to provide a new position in healthcare that is designed to cut cost and increase patient satisfaction. This position would bridge the gap between the lab and other healthcare professionals (a liaison for the lab). There duties would entail: educating patients on various testing procedures (if they have questions), educating physicians on new/advanced testing options that are available, reducing healthcare cost associated with unnecessarily testing, managing the laboratory, etc. However, much like Ophthalmologists do not want to see Optometrists doing minor surgeries, Pathologists do not want to see the DCLS implemented into the lab setting. They do not want to see another type of doctor doing what they are supposed to do, but simply have no time to do. There efforts have severely hindered ASCLS from implimenting this new professon. To wrap things up, there is no room for growth in my field. To me, that's important.

                                        If advancement is important to you then optometry may not be the right field for you or at the very least, I would encourage you to look beyond what you said in your initial posting when you talked about salaries and not breaking even for 17 years.

                                        Once you are an optometrist, there is no advancement beyond being an optometrist. Your salary as an employee will cap out very very quickly in ANY mode of practice because in our industry, a person with 20 years experience rarely if ever has value over someone with 5 years experience. In fact, I'd say that in more situations than not, the 5 year person is more valuable.

                                        So if you go into it with the attitude of making $80000 for the next 17 years, you're going to hate it. You should go into it trying to figure out how can you make "real money" which entails being the owner of a practice.
                                         
                                        About the Ads
                                        This thread is more than 10 years old.

                                        Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

                                        1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
                                        2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                        3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                        4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
                                        5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
                                        6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                        7. This thread is locked.