Optometrist vs. Pharmacist: Similarities and Differences

Optometrists and pharmacists are two jobs in healthcare that are both demanding and lucrative. These jobs can provide a gratifying opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others for people who want to work in the medical industry.

Learning about the distinctions between these two occupations, as well as what it takes to get started in either of them, might help you decide which one is the best fit for you. 

We clarify what an optometrist and a pharmacist are, evaluate their similarities and differences, and offer advice on how to decide which of these vocations is suitable for you in this post.

What is an optometrist?

An optometrist is a healthcare specialist who focuses on the eyes and vision of their patients. 

Their main job is to conduct vision tests and analyze the data to determine whether or not their patient requires glasses. They’ve received specific training to detect eye injuries and disorders that could damage vision or general health. 

The following are some of their general responsibilities:

  • Diagnosing eye diseases such as glaucoma, astigmatism, and corneal disease 
  • Measuring the size and shape of a patient’s face for glasses 
  • Performing eye examinations
What is an optometrist
What is an optometrist

What is a pharmacist?

A pharmacist dispenses medications to patients in collaboration with doctors and other healthcare professionals. 

They give their patients the proper dosages of prescription medications and frequently give advice or educate them on how to take them properly. Pharmacists also have the following responsibilities:

  • Managing a pharmacy’s inventory and labeling drugs 
  • Communicating with patients, doctors, and insurance providers
  • Providing generic prescriptions to help patients meet their financial needs
  • Vaccine administration 
  • Working as part of a pharmaceutical team 
  • Pharmacy technician management
What is a pharmacist
What is a pharmacist

Optometrist vs. pharmacist

Even though optometrists and pharmacists both work in the healthcare field, they are very different professions. In this article, we’ll discuss details about optometrist vs. pharmacist. Have a look. 

Training and education 

Optometrists and pharmacists both have comparable educational backgrounds but specialize in separate fields. Most students need a standard bachelor’s degree to become an optometrist. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to finish, and those interested in optometry should consider majoring in biology, chemistry, or physics. 

Natural science programs can assist students to prepare for more advanced science courses in optometry school. Prospective optometrists apply to optometry school after completing their bachelor’s degree, which involves another four years of study. 

Students who complete optometry school receive a Doctor of Optometry degree. Many students begin their careers as pharmacists by acquiring a bachelor’s degree in one of the natural sciences. Some colleges, however, specialize in teaching pharmacists and allow students to complete their bachelor’s and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degrees in six to seven years. 

Other schools require students to complete their bachelor’s degrees before they can begin doctoral training. On average, these programs take four years to complete. Doctor of Optometry and PharmD degrees are distinct from medical doctor degrees earned by physicians, and unlike physicians, these professionals do not require residency.

Primary responsibilities

The primary roles of optometrists and pharmacists are vastly different. Pharmacists dispense prescription prescriptions, whereas optometrists generally provide services to care for their patients’ eye health and eyesight. Professionals in both of these fields deal with patients regularly, but optometrists interact with patients more frequently than pharmacists. 

Optometrists speak with patients personally and conduct routine exams that need them to conduct vision tests on them. Pharmacists, on the other hand, may only deal with customers when they have questions, provide immunizations, or explain how to utilize a drug.

Primary responsibilities
Primary responsibilities

Work environment

Typically, optometrists and pharmacists work in different contexts. Optometrists work in a variety of settings, including doctors’ offices, health clinics, school systems, and optical businesses. Pharmacists work at retail pharmacies, hospitals, and other health centers, rather than owning their own businesses. 

Optometrists usually work regular business hours, though some may work evenings or weekends to accommodate their patients’ schedules.

Work environment
Work environment

Average salary

The average income for optometrists is $277,576 per year, whereas the average salary for pharmacists is $116,877 per year. Salary averages for various professions, however, might vary depending on geographic area, employment situation, amount of education, and years of experience. 

For example, a pharmacist working in a hospital setting may make more on average than one working in a commercial pharmacy. Similarly, an optometrist who has a private practice may earn more than one who works at a community health center.


Consider the career outlooks of these occupations as well as the environment in which you desire to work when making your decision. Optometrists had a better career outlook in all contexts, whereas pharmacists have more opportunities for working in hospitals or remote pharmaceutical services, but fewer options for working in retail pharmacies. 

Consider the type of environment you want to work in and the job forecast for specialists in that field to help you pick between these options.

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