There are currently an estimated 40,200 optometrists in the United States. The optometrist job market is expected to grow by 17.9% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are optometrists?

CareerExplorer rates optometrists with a B- employability rating, meaning this career should provide good employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 8,500 optometrists. That number is based on 7,200 additional optometrists, and the retirement of 1,300 existing optometrists.

Are optometrists in demand?

Currently, only 23 American educational institutions offer Doctor of Optometry Degrees. This relatively small number of schools results in a limited number of graduates. The demand for preventative and corrective eye care, created by a growing population and an increasing number of health insurance plans covering vision care, is expected to outpace the supply of optometrists. As the population ages, there will be more incidences of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, vision problems commonly associated with the elderly. Occurrences of diabetes and hypertension, both of which often affect eyesight, will also generate greater demand for optometric services. In addition, as the nearly one quarter of practicing optometrists who are approaching retirement age leave the profession, significant opportunities for entrants to the field will arise. While laser surgery to correct defective vision may minimally reduce demand, optometrists will still be required to provide pre- and post- operative care for laser surgery patients.

What’s the supply of optometrists?

The optometrist industry is concentrated in California, Texas, New York

Optometrist job market by state

State Name Employed Optometrists
California 3,810
Texas 2,600
New York 2,410
Illinois 2,150
Pennsylvania 1,800
Florida 1,780
Michigan 1,440
Virginia 1,370
Ohio 1,210
New Jersey 1,160
Massachusetts 1,080
Georgia 1,040
Minnesota 970
North Carolina 940
Indiana 860
Colorado 800
Missouri 760
Washington 740
Oklahoma 690
Tennessee 670
Arizona 660
Maryland 640
South Carolina 560
Wisconsin 540
Alabama 510
Kansas 500
Oregon 490
Kentucky 480
Utah 450
Nebraska 450
Iowa 440
Arkansas 290
Connecticut 250
Mississippi 240
Puerto Rico 220
New Mexico 220
Louisiana 200
Nevada 200
North Dakota 190
Hawaii 170
West Virginia 170
Maine 150
New Hampshire 150
Rhode Island 150
Idaho 150
South Dakota 130
Montana 120
Vermont 100
Delaware 100
Wyoming 90
Alaska 80