Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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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 eyes, check for eye diseases and assess vision. If needed, they prescribe visual aids, other treatments including prescription medicines, or refer the patient to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Their tasks may include:

  • examining patients' eyes and setting tests to determine the nature and extent of vision problems and abnormalities
  • assessing ocular health and visual function by measuring visual acuity and refractive error, and testing the function of visual pathways, visual fields, eye movements, freedom of vision and intraocular pressure, and performing other tests using special eye test equipment
  • detecting, diagnosing and managing eye disease, referring patients to, and receiving referrals from other health providers, and prescribing medications for the treatment of eye disease
  • diagnosing eye movement disorders and defects of binocular function
  • prescribing lenses, contact lenses and low vision aids, and checking suitability and comfort
  • prescribing exercises to coordinate movement and focusing of eyes
  • managing programs for eye movement disorders, and instructing and counselling patients in the use of corrective techniques and eye exercises
  • advising on visual health matters such as contact lens care, vision care for the elderly, optics, visual ergonomics, and occupational and industrial eye safety
  • conducting preventative screening programs
  • conducting rehabilitation programs for the visually impaired.


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
$42,600 over five years


Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. First time students may be eligible for fees-free
tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to 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.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 2019, the average annual income for optometrists is estimated to be around $94,200.

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 2021 2026
576 630 770 850
  1.3% 3.3% 1.6%

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 be 1.6% per year out to 2028 following on from much stronger growth to 2023. 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

Optometrist vacancies are usually advertised through the professional association, ophthalmic community publications, and through careers events hosted by the industry.

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