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Future Looks Bright in Eye Care Careers

optometry careers

Eye Care Degrees and Scholarships

If you’ve ever considered a career in eye care, you’ll be pleased to know that the employment outlook is good. Growth in the market is steady and predictable. The population is aging, and once people reach the age of forty, they tend to need more help with vision correction and other eye-related concerns than before. On top of that, the U.S. population continues to grow.

Eye care is a profession that weathers economic downturns better than many others since it’s essential. Best of all, eye care professionals make a meaningful difference in their patients’ lives.

Options For a Career in Eye Care

If you want a career in eye care, you can become an optician, and optometrist or an ophthalmologist.


Help fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision correcting devices. They’re always in demand, and the pay ranges from about $38,000 – $55,000 per year, depending on where they’re employed. If you want to learn to become an optician, it may interest you to know that The Army Reserve is currently offering positions as an Optical Laboratory Specialist (68H). The training process for this position includes 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training followed by 24 weeks of Advanced Individual Training.

Optometrists (ODs)

Doctors who examine, diagnose, and treat visual problems, diseases, and injuries of the eye. Optometrists have a four year college degree, plus four additional years of specialized graduate training that consists of a mixture of classroom courses and supervised clinical work.

Optometry school is competitive and rigorous. You’ll need to pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) to get in, and get licensed in the state in which you wish to practice, and complete continuing education courses throughout your career. However, that level of dedication has its rewards.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) demand for optometrists is growing 10% faster than most other careers. The income can be excellent as well. In 2019, the BLS reported that their average salary at $115,250 per year, which comes to $55.41 per hour.


Medical doctors (MDs) who are licensed to practice eye surgery. Typical training includes a four-year college degree followed by at least eight years of additional specialized medical training.

A career in any facet of medicine is a big commitment.  Interviewing and/or shadowing professionals in the eye care career you’re considering —especially those who have recently graduated — will help you know what you’re getting into before you apply.

GI Bill Approved Optometry Degree Programs

A huge part of the commitment you’re facing when choosing higher education is financial. You can save thousands of dollars by choosing a GI Bill approved program such as those at:


>> Find GI Bill-approved optometry, ophthalmology and optician degree programs with CollegeRecon’s School Finder here.


Speaking of money, if you become an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist, the primary government program worth pursuing is Public Student Loan Forgiveness.

This program allows ODs employed by a non profit 501(c)3 organization (such as a VA hospital) to make a total of 10 years minimum monthly payments and have their loans forgiven after that point.

Optometry Scholarships

In addition, there are scholarships available. Three notable optometry scholarships include:

The Advancement of Optometry Scholarship

Awards: 51 Scholarships. Amount varies.

For students enrolled full time at schools and colleges of optometry.

Deadline: April 10

For more information and to apply for this scholarship: VSP Global

The Vistakon Awd of Excel in Contact Lens Patient Care

Awards: Multiple scholarships. Varying amounts.

Any fourth year student attending any school or college of optometry.

Deadline: December 31

For more information and to apply for this scholarship: VSP Global

The Bernard Maitenaz Scholarship

Awards: $10,000

For third year optometry students in good academic standing who demonstrate financial need.

Deadline: October 31

For more information and to apply for this scholarship: AOA Foundation


>> Find scholarships for military, veterans, spouses and dependents with the CollegeRecon Scholarship Finder