How New ODs Can Find the Salary Range for Their Target Geographical Location

September 26, 2021
Begin your salary negotiations with a firm understanding of the optometric salary range for your target region.
Hand holding pencil and pushing buttons on calculator while other hand stacks coins.

Whether you are exploring your options to determine where you’d like to practice or you’ve already found your perfect career fit and are preparing to enter salary negotiations with your new employer, an important step for all new ODs is identifying the salary range for their target regional market. Finding salary information for a given market can seem overwhelming at first, but there are steps ODs can take to demystify the research process.

Past AOA president, Samuel Pierce, O.D., suggests, “The best way to get market information is just to get online and search. There are also income surveys that are often regional.”

When searching for salary information online, a targeted approach is best. Consider searching the following resources to develop a clearer idea of the salary range for a given market:

  • The AOAExcel Career Center – ODs can search posts listed in their area and review local listings to get a sense of the salary range for ODs in the area.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – The industry profile for optometrists created by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (last updated in May of 2020), is a useful resource to get a sense of not only the salary range for a given region, but also the salary range for different practice modalities. ODs can also use this resource to see which regions have the largest concentrations of optometrists. For a summarized version of the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, view this 2019 Forbes article on optometric salaries and career projections.
  • Salary aggregators – ODs can also consider reviewing salary aggregators to search for regional salary information. The caveat with these resources is that the salary information is self-reported, often based on a small number of entries, and may not include full compensation details (benefits, retirement matching, etc.).

While online resources are a great starting point and may have a wealth of information for metropolitan areas, ODs who are interested in settings that are more rural may have a more difficult time finding salary information online.

For ODs who are having some difficulty locating salary information online, Rachel Simpson, O.D. of Pennsylvania suggests reaching out directly to optometrists in their target market. “ODs will give you the information if you network with them – if someone were to reach out on Facebook and ask me about salaries in my area, I’d definitely tell them,” she says. Optometry is an overwhelmingly collaborative field, and experienced ODs are often happy to provide guidance to optometrists who are just starting their careers.

When reaching out to practicing optometrists to ask about their region, Dr. Pierce recommends that ODs “ask how many patients are typically seen in a week per doctor and how many exams per day. A general rule of thumb is that a practice should be prepared to pay a doctor at least 20% of the professional fees they raise, as well as a percentage of the eyewear and contact lens income generated from the doctor’s patients.”

It's useful to remember that these fact-finding conversations can also be used to learn more about the area, along with salary expectations. ODs can ask questions about the needs of the patients in the region and questions about the community in general.

Doing research on the salary range of a given geographical region can help new ODs set their expectations and go into salary negotiations prepared. Get started by searching existing positions on the AOAExcel Career Center today.

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