Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site


Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for optometrists are good, because an ageing population means that more people will need visual aids. Employment is projected to grow, but this is still a relatively small occupation and finding work can be hard in some locations. Study fees are very high, but so too is an optometrist’s income.

How to become an optometrist

What they do

Optometrists examine people’s eyesight and check for eye diseases. If needed, they prescribe visual aids, other treatments, or refer the patient to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).


A Bachelor of Optometry is needed to become an optometrist. This qualification usually takes five years to complete full-time.

Optometrists must also be registered with and hold a practising certificate issued by the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board.

Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board:

Cost of study

Bachelor of Optometry
$42,000 over five years

Approximate costs in 2016 for domestic students. Costs vary between institutions. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

The University of Auckland is the only provider of the Bachelor of Optometry.

Bachelor of Optometry:

Income and employment prospects


In 2016, the average annual income for optometrists is estimated to be around $88,500.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Optometrists’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
576 630 847 994
  1.3% 4.3% 3.3%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the broader category “Health Diagnostic and Promotion Officials”.

Optometry is not a large occupation in terms of the number of people employed. Numbers employed grew slowly between 2006 and 2013. That growth is expected to speed up to more than 3% per year out to 2025. This should mean there are plenty of opportunities for new optometrists, although the small size of the occupation can make it hard to find work in some locations.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Optometrists are not on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Although it has grown a little slower in recent years, the number of online job vacancies for optometrists has broadly followed the average for all vacancies between 2008 and 2015. The number of online ads for optometrists was about 20% higher in 2016 than it was in 2008.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Optometrist vacancies are advertised through public media such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek.

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

Optometrists can work in optometry practices or hospitals. They can specialise in, for example, a specific disease or working with children. Some experienced optometrists set up their own practice or become partners at existing practices.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level optometrists.

  • Dispensing Optician
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Orthoptist

Other information


More information on optometrists is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of optometrist has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

2514 – Optometrists and Orthoptists