According to an article published to the "U.S. News and World Report" website, orthoptists are a best kept secret career, because of job satisfaction ratings, training requirements, pay and prestige. Orthoptists are specialists in the field of ophthalmology, specializing in eye movement and binocular vision. They diagnose, evaluate and work alongside ophthalmologists to treat problems like amblyopia, which is lazy eye, and strabismus, the scientific term for someone who is cross-eyed. Although orthoptists work with people of all ages, children are their primary patients.
The American Association of Certified Orthoptists requires that orthoptists have a baccalaureate degree and complete a two-year fellowship program in an accredited orthoptist program. A science or healthcare background isn’t required, but is recommended. The fellowship program will include both theory and a clinical component, where students work alongside certified orthoptists and ophthalmologists. After completing the fellowship, students are tested by the American Orthoptic Council. If successful, they receive national certification through the Council, and then they may begin practicing professionally.
According to compensation information website CBsalary, orthoptists earn between $48,538 and $193,646 a year. The average annual salary is $72,633. Orthoptist salary varies and depends on experience, work environment and geographic location.
When comparing the east coast to west coast, employment website Indeed.com says that orthoptists in New York make about $91,000 a year, while those in Los Angeles make approximately $77,000. Atlanta orthoptists are on par with those in Los Angeles, also at $77,000. They make about $78,000 in Chicago, and $72,000 in Miami and in Houston. Other parts of the western United States don’t fare as well as Los Angeles. In Seattle, they average $66,000 a year, and earn about $63,000 and $62,000 in Las Vegas and Phoenix, respectively.
The Orthoptic Program at the University of Minnesota states that career prospects for orthoptists are great. They say that less than 15 new orthoptists enter the workforce each year, making the demand for orthoptists outweigh the number of program graduates each year. Those who do become certified and begin practicing are basically replacing other orthoptists who are leaving the field. The University of Iowa Orthoptic Training Program corroborates this outlook. It claims that 100 percent of orthoptists are placed in jobs, be it a teaching hospital, in private practice with an ophthalmologist, or doing research.