Which is Better Optometrist or Pharmacist? (Real Student Opinions)

Are you confused about whether you should become an optometrist or a pharmacist? This post will help you. In this post, we gov over everything you need to know about pharmacy vs optometry. To know whether you should select optometry or pharmacy as a career, you must understand these comparisons and in the end use your gut to make the correct decision.

So Which is better optometrist or pharmacist?

Optometry may be a better option today since there is a continuing increase in demand for optometrists. Where Pharmacist career forecast is starting to get a little saturated with the heavy increase in Pharmacy based schools. Based on that alone optometry is the way to go.

If you are 100% on board with becoming an Optometrist then read further as a Pharmacist career can still be very rewarding. There are still plenty of opportunities out there when it comes to Pharmacy Specializations and different locations.

The best career option is the one which interests you the most. If we compare optometry with pharmacy, optometry education is all about every field related to eye care, while education for pharmacy is about drugs, drug interactions, among many other things. Optometry is still in increasing demand where Pharmacy is not.

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Pharmacy vs Optometry

Pharmacists and optometrists both work in the healthcare field; however, the duties, responsibilities, etc. of both are different.


Pharmacists work with the doctor and other healthcare providers. Pharmacists are also known as druggists or chemists. Their primary duty is to make sure the patient is getting the proper dosage of medications.

A pharmacist is responsible for the quality of medicines supplied to patients. They need to make sure the medicine supplied is within the law and also make sure the provided medicines are suitable. Pharmacists work in different environments. Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies and hospitals.

Some major job responsibilities as a pharmacist are:

  • Labeling pharmaceuticals according to procedure
  • Offering generic brand options to keep costs down
  • Advising and counseling patients
  • Administering a multitude of shots including vaccines
  • Dispense prescriptions
  • Communicate with prescribers
  • Ensure patients safety
  • Dealing with insurance companies
  • Managing staff
  • Educate health provider colleagues
  • Among many other tasks


An optometrist is an eye care professional who provides services related to eyes or vision. The main task of optometrists is to analyze results from vision tests to figure out whether there is a need for glasses.

Optometrists are trained to examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, ocular diseases, general health problems, etc. Optometrists may also prescribe eye drops for infections or other damage to the cornea.

Here are some major job responsibilities as an optometrist:

  • Comparing the patient’s old prescriptions to track changes in visual acuity
  • Measuring the patient’s face and eyes for corrective lenses
  • Utilizing practices like topography for diagnosing corneal diseases
  • Diagnosing glaucoma and astigmatisms

Optometry Schooling vs Pharmacist Schooling

As we have seen, the job responsibilities for pharmacists and optometrists are different. Hence it is obvious that the educational or schooling requirements will also be different.

Depending on the optometry or pharmacy school you select, the requirements may vary slightly.

Talking about optometry, if you want to become an optometrist, first you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and pass an optometry program admission test. After passing the optometry program admission test, you need to complete a four year Doctor of the Optometry degree program. Once you receive the Doctor of Optometry degree, you need to pass the licensure exam to become a certified Optometrist.

The education criteria set to become a pharmacist, and optometrist are very similar.

Talking about pharmacy, if you want to become a pharmacist, first you need to complete at least two years of specific undergraduate study. After that, you need to complete four academic years of professional pharmacy study (PharmD program). After completing the pharmacy program, the applicant needs to pass the licensure examinations to become a certified pharmacist.

Who Earns More Pharmacist or Optometrist?

You don’t need to choose between pharmacy and optometry based on the salary. Salary is just the one factor, there are so many things to consider before choosing any career option. Instead of focusing on salary, you need to focus on your interest. Choose the career option which interests you the most.

The salary of a pharmacist and an optometrist will differ based on the location. The experiences and expertise of the candidate also play a significant role.

According to Glassdoor, an optometrist’s average salary is $117,548 per year in the United States. The data by Glassdoor states that the lowest salary was about $95,000 per year, and the highest salary was about $146,000 per year.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a pharmacist is $119,677 per year in the United States. The data by Glassdoor states that the lowest salary was about $90,000 per year, and the highest salary was about $135,000 per year.

From the above figures, we can see that pharmacists and optometrists’ salaries do not have much difference.

Optometry School VS Pharmacy School (Opinions Of Real Students)

So we didn’t want you to just take our word on this subject so we went out and gathered information from different forums from real current or past students in pharmacy and optometry to get their opinions.

We curated this information only changing spelling or grammar where needed.

Real Student Feedback

1. BlazenMadison “Optometry” –

Why I would choose optometry over pharmacy:
1)more autonomy, respect
2)direct contact with patients
3)you’re not as bored
4)you’re giving the gift of sight!
Why I would choose pharmacy over optometry:
1)signing bonus (as much as 15k!)
2)100k plus benefits easily without much stress
3)did i mention better money?

So if you want to make money and don’t mind standing all day counting pills, then pharmacy is the way to go

2. Opt_Princess “Optometry” –

I too, have considered pharmacy as an alternative to optometry. One reason I considered it was the better pay, but also it allows for more flexibility. As a pharmacist you can move around pretty much anywhere and still be able to work. In optometry, once you have established a practice and have a set of patients, moving is not very smart and very hard if not impossible. One negative for pharmacy is that it does seem boring and too repetitive. I don’t know if I could be standing all day counting pills( I am sure there is more to the job.). There is also very little room for advancement or for entrepreneurship. You basically will always have a boss. In optometry, as the doctor you are your own boss. Unless, of course, you work in a retail, and even then you could be an Independent Doctor of Optometry. What it boils down to in choosing between the professions is basically what fits you as a person.

Do you want money over being your own boss?
Can you handle not having much interaction with other people on a daily basis?
Can you handle standing on your feet for long periods of time?
Do you want to stay in one location pretty much for the rest of your life?

Those are some of the questions I asked myself and it brought me to the conclusion that optometry is what I want to do.

3. FishPharm “Pharmacist profession misunderstood” –

Many people on here have a lot of misinformation about pharmacy. Pharmacy and optometry are both great professions and both programs offer a doctorate. Pharmacists do not stand on their feet all day counting pills, this is what a technician does. As far as diversity goes, pharmacy is considerably more diverse than optometry as a profession. As a doctor of pharmacy, you have options of retail (independent or chain), hospital pharmacy, home health care, nuclear pharmacy, clinical pharmacy, drug reps, pharmacy administration, drug research, long term care facility pharmacy and there are several more. Optometry is much less diverse. But lets compare a retail chain pharmacist to an optometrist. In retail pharmacy, the pharmacist uses his or her knowledge of every organ system in the human body on a daily basis. There is not a day that goes by that a retail pharmacist doesn’t make a diagnosis and recommends a medication. So people on here saying all they do is count medication have no idea what they are talking about. I’m in my last year of pharmacy school and I could probably count on my right hand how many times I’ve seen the pharmacist count medications and label a bottle. An optometrist on the other hand basically does eye exams all day … which I would think would be extremely monotonous. I would think putting an eye machine in front of someones face and saying “Tell me which one is clearer.. 1, 2 or 3” all day would be extremely boring. Another negative about optometry is going to school all those years and just dealing with the eye. As a pharmacist your education is on practically every disease state a medical school student learns about. Now, I’m not saying optometry is a bad profession, it isn’t . On average, pharmacist make more money than optometrists. I know optometrist who go into their own practice can make killer money but so can pharmacists. The biggest problem I see with optometry is insurance reimbursement …. so, just like any other healthcare profession there is less and less reimbursement. So if your price for an eye exam is $130 and Aetna Insurance will only pay you $30, thats what you get. Another thing too, most people don’t have yearly eye visits……maybe more like once every 5 years…. if that.

4. CalEyeDoc “Optemetry” –

Optometry has been very good to me. It has been financially rewarding and personally rewarding as well. I would hate being a dentist because of dealing with so much pain. I never considered Pharmacy because I never really liked chemistry. I like math and there is a lot of algebra in optics and I like people, so I could have been a math teacher, but I like 1 on 1 rather than a whole room to deal with, and optometry pays a lot better. I first worked in an HMO for many years, then in commercial practice a little to pay the bills when my private practice started, now in private group practice for what seems like forever (over 20 years).

My only real complaint is that primary care MDs are educated by ophthalmologists during their med school rotations that if you don’t refer to an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist for anything medically eye related they are taking a risk with their patient so primary care MDs pretty much follow this to the letter throughout their professional career. Also general ophthalmologists find it financially rewarding to propagate this myth and exaggerate the myth whenever we propose an expansion of our scope of practice, which we have successfully done repeated times in every state in the country!

Just about every path is fraught with uncertainty, no matter which career you choose, but if you are excellent at what you do, and you enjoy what you do, it should work out fine. Maybe even in dentistry or pharmacy

Optician vs Pharmacy Tech

If you don’t want to get Doctor of Pharmacy or Doctor of Optometry degree program, but you are interested in eye care or pharmacy field, then you can become an optician or pharmacy tech.

You can also become a Pharmacy Tech before making the big commitment of becoming a Pharmacsist. This way you get a behind the scenes look into your possible future career. You can be a Pharmacy Tech in many different healthcare environments including the hospital and retail avenues.


Optician or optician technician take eye measurements and create work orders for ophthalmic lab techs who create eyeglasses. Opticians dispense, measure, and fit eyeglass frames and lenses.

As an optician technician, you will also be helping clients choose the right glasses, and sometimes you may need to repair them. The optician technician works in different environments like optometrist’s offices, eyeglass and contact lens retailers.

The jobs for opticians are on the rise. Optician technician career’s expected job growth is 23% between the years 2012 and 2022. This growth is above average.

Although this career field has amazing job opportunities and growth in the future, the salary is quite low. The median salary of optician technicians in the United States is $40,839 per year.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists. As a pharmacist technician, you will be helping pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.

Pharmacy technicians work in different work environments, including durg, general merchandise, grocery stores, hospitals, etc.

To become a pharmacy technician, you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. You may need to complete a postsecondary education program in pharmacy technology.

Just like optician technicians, employment for pharmacy technicians is also expected to grow. Over the next ten years, it is estimated to grow by 7%. Talking about salary, the average salary of a pharmacy technician in the United States is $30,412 per year.

Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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