Optometrist Salary: Are you thinking on going into the field of an optometrist? And have you ever wonder what optometrist salary looks like? Well this article will tell you all you need to know on optometrist and what their salary looks like. Even going as far as showing you an annual salary in the different states.
Needless to say, eyesight is a very important one of our senses. Optometry can be a rewarding career because they help people see better and maintain eye health. Along with a fulfilling career an optometrist can earn a nice living. The median optometrist salary is $110,000/year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The problem is that income has stagnated and private practice isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. The 800-pound gorilla Luxottica and the innovative (now established) Warby Parker have had major influence on the income trajectory of ODs.
Even though incomes have leveled off, the cost of optometry school continues to rise. The average OD we’ve worked with has $267,000 in student debt.
The average optometrist salary is $110,000 per year which is a very nice salary. But how does that compare to the average college graduate without an advanced degree?
Let’s just assume that $44,000 in extra income sustains throughout the entire 40 year career of an OD. That works out to an extra $1,760,000 in lifetime earnings for an OD compared to someone with a bachelor’s degree. That is a huge number!
Taking out $267,000 in loans to make an extra $1,760,000 tends to make financial sense on the surface, but remember that the extra earnings will be taxed. If we assume a combined 40% tax rate for federal and state, then we can reduce that $1,760,000 in earnings down to about $1,056,000 in extra take-home pay.
So now we’re talking about ODs having an extra $1,056,000 to pay off the $267,000 of student loan debt that made it possible for an OD to earn that extra money.
Option for Optometrist Salary in Student Loan Repayment
Here at Student Loan Planner, we have done over 1,600 consults and advised on over $400,000,000 of student debt. Our experience shows that there are two optimal ways for ODs to pay off student loans. They just so happen to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Option 1 – Aggressive Pay Back: For people who owe 1.5 times their income or less (e.g. someone who makes $100,000 with loans at $150,000 or less), their best bet is to throw every dollar they can find to pay back their loans as fast as possible, no more than 10 years.
Option 2 – Pay the least amount possible: For people who owe more than twice their income (e.g. someone who makes $100,000 and owes $200,000 or more), the goal is to get on an income-driven repayment plan that will keep their payments low and maximize loan forgiveness whether it’s public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) or taxable loan forgiveness.
PAYE vs Refinancing For Optometrists
In almost all circumstances, the graduated plan is going to end up costing ODs more money than they’d otherwise have to spend when paying back their loans.
The graduated plan is neither option 1 nor option 2 listed above and is much more costly because Adam will end up paying off a 6.8% loan in full over 30 years with increasing payments every 2 years.
It sounds like a good idea to help with monthly cash flow, but 99/100 times it’s one of the worst repayment options. Choosing PAYE or refinancing to a 10 year fixed rate will both cost less than that.
As for PAYE vs refinancing, the options look fairly close from an out-of-pocket cost, and here are the pros and cons for each option:
Affordable monthly payments which will allow him to save, invest and put money toward other financial goals (pro).
Has 20 years to save up for the taxes owed (pro)
Loan balance will grow from $280,000 to $435,000 (con)
It will take him 10 years longer vs refinancing (con)
He’ll be out of debt in 10 years or less (pro).
Total out of pocket cost is about $7,000 lower (pro)
Once he refinances, the federal loan program benefits are gone for good (con)
Stuck with $3,039 monthly payments for 10 years with little to no flexibility (con)
PAYE would provide more payment flexibility, lower payments so he can save and invest for his other financial goals. The downside is that he’d have to get comfortable with the fact that his loans are going to grow. This is usually tough for people to wrap their head around.
That is why saving alongside of PAYE is so important. If he can save $2,000 per month for 20 years and earn 7%, he’d have over $1,000,000 in assets with $435,000 in loans that will be forgiven. After paying the tax bomb, he’ll still have a net worth of about $825,000. That’s pretty awesome and makes it worth it financially to let the loans grow.
The pure financial answer is yes since the projected lifetime earnings of an OD vs the average college grad is $1,056,000 after taxes vs the $380,000 in cost of paying back student loans.
The reality is that most optometrists will have to deal with student loans for 20 years and won’t necessarily be able to celebrate and enjoy that higher income until their loans are dealt with. Making student loan payments will be a way of life during that time which lines up with the extra costs of getting married and raising kids.
If optometrists can keep that long term perspective, they’ll still have a nice long career with great earnings remaining after being student debt-free.
Just like any profession, OD candidates should only choose to pursue this path if they are all in and don’t let student loans make them regret their decision.
Optometrist can find a clear path to pay back their student loans. A path that could not only save them significant money but help them understand the actions steps to get it done. A choice in the field of optometrist is just right for you.