Average Optometrist Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Optometrist Salary in South Africa is R70,300 per month. An entry-level Optometrist earns a salary range of R40,400, a Mid-career level earns about R72,300, and a senior/experienced level earns R96,550 per month.

Average Optometrist Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Optometrist 40,400
Mid-Career Optometrist 72,300
Experienced Optometrist 96,550

Types of Optometrists and Their Functions in South Africa

Optometrists play a crucial role in eye care, addressing a range of vision and eye health issues. In South Africa, there are several types of optometrists, each specializing in specific areas to meet the diverse needs of patients. Here’s an overview of the types of optometrists and their functions in South Africa:

1. General Optometrists

General optometrists are primary eye care providers. They perform comprehensive eye examinations, prescribe corrective lenses, and diagnose common eye conditions such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. They also screen for eye diseases like glaucoma and refer patients to specialists if necessary.

2. Contact Lens Optometrists

These optometrists specialize in fitting and prescribing contact lenses. They assess the suitability of contact lenses for patients, considering factors like eye health, lifestyle, and individual preferences. Contact lens optometrists also educate patients on proper lens care and hygiene.

3. Pediatric Optometrists

Pediatric optometrists focus on eye care for children. They are skilled in conducting eye exams tailored to the unique needs of young patients. Detecting and managing conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) are central to their practice. Early intervention is crucial for the optimal development of children’s vision.

4. Low Vision Optometrists

Low-vision optometrists specialize in helping individuals with significant vision impairment that cannot be fully corrected with standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. They assess functional vision and prescribe aids and devices to maximize visual capabilities, enhancing independence and quality of life for those with visual challenges.

5. Therapeutic Optometrists

Therapeutic optometrists are qualified to diagnose and treat certain eye conditions with medications. They can prescribe medications for infections, inflammations, and other non-surgical eye issues. They work closely with ophthalmologists and other healthcare professionals to manage various eye diseases.

6. Sports Vision Optometrists

Specializing in the unique visual demands of sports, these optometrists assess and enhance visual skills that are crucial for athletic performance. They work with athletes to improve hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and other visual abilities, contributing to better sports performance.

7. Behavioural Optometrists

Behavioural optometrists address vision problems related to eye movement, coordination, and focus. They often work with individuals experiencing difficulties with reading, learning, or attention. Behavioural optometrists employ vision therapy to improve these visual skills and enhance overall visual comfort.

Understanding the diverse roles of optometrists in South Africa ensures that individuals receive specialized care tailored to their unique eye health needs. Whether it’s basic eye examinations, specialized contact lens fittings, or addressing complex vision issues, the various types of optometrists contribute to the overall well-being of patients across different age groups and lifestyles.

Factors Affecting Optometrist Salaries in South Africa

Optometrists play a crucial role in healthcare by diagnosing and treating various visual impairments. In South Africa, several factors influence the salaries of optometrists, reflecting the complexities of the healthcare system and the economy. Understanding these factors is essential for both aspiring optometrists and healthcare policymakers.

1. Experience and Expertise

Optometrists with more experience generally command higher salaries. Those with specialized expertise or certifications in areas like pediatric optometry or low vision may also earn higher incomes due to the increased demand for their specialized skills.

2. Location

Geographical location plays a significant role in salary discrepancies. Urban areas and regions with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher salaries to compensate for the increased living expenses. Additionally, areas with a shortage of optometrists may offer higher salaries to attract and retain professionals.

3. Education and Training

The level of education and training an optometrist possesses can impact their salary. Those with advanced degrees, such as a Doctor of Optometry (OD), may command higher salaries. Continuous professional development and staying updated on the latest advancements in the field can also positively influence earning potential.

4. Healthcare Infrastructure

The state of healthcare infrastructure in a particular region can affect salaries. Areas with well-established healthcare systems and higher demand for eye care services may offer more competitive salaries. Conversely, in underserved regions, salaries may be lower due to limited resources and demand.

5. Private vs. Public Sector

Optometrists working in the private sector often have the potential for higher salaries compared to those in the public sector. Private practices, especially in affluent areas, may generate more revenue, allowing for increased compensation for optometrists.

6. Economic Factors

The overall economic conditions of the country influence salary levels. Economic stability, inflation rates, and currency strength can impact the purchasing power of salaries. Economic downturns may lead to salary freezes or slower salary growth.

7. Industry Demand and Supply

The demand for optometry services in a specific region can affect salaries. Areas with a shortage of optometrists relative to the demand for eye care services may experience higher salary levels. Conversely, oversaturated markets may lead to increased competition and potentially lower salaries.

8. Negotiation Skills

Individual negotiation skills can also impact salary outcomes. Optometrists who effectively negotiate their compensation packages, considering factors like benefits, bonuses, and work hours, may secure more favourable arrangements.

How to Become an Optometrist in South Africa

To become an optometrist in South Africa, one must follow a specific educational and professional path. Here’s a detailed guide on the steps to become an optometrist in South Africa:

Educational Requirements

1. Matriculation (Grade 12):

– Start by completing your high school education with a focus on science subjects such as Biology and Physics.

2. Bachelor’s Degree:
– Pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Optometry at a recognized South African university. This is typically a four-year program.

Admission Requirements

3. Admission to Optometry School:

– Fulfill the university’s admission requirements, including a satisfactory academic record and possibly an admission exam.

Optometry Program

4. Optometry Degree:

– Complete the four-year Optometry program, which includes both theoretical coursework and practical clinical experience.

5. Clinical Training:
– Gain hands-on experience in clinical settings to develop practical skills. This may involve working with patients under the supervision of experienced optometrists.

Professional Qualification

6. Board Examination:

– After completing the Optometry program, pass the Professional Board Examination for Optometry conducted by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Registration and Internship

7. Internship:

– Complete a one-year internship at an approved optometry practice. This internship is a mandatory part of the qualification process.

8. Registration with HPCSA:
– Register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a qualified optometrist after completing the internship.


9. Continuing Professional Development:

– Engage in ongoing professional development to stay updated on the latest advancements in optometry. This may involve attending workshops, and conferences, or pursuing additional certifications.

10. Specialization (Optional):
– Optometrists can choose to specialize in specific areas such as pediatric optometry, contact lenses, or low vision. Specialization often involves additional training and certifications.

Licensing and Practice

11. Licensing:

– Obtain a license to practice as an optometrist from the relevant regulatory authority.

12. Start Practicing:
– With a valid license, you can start practising as an optometrist. This may involve joining an existing practice, partnering with other healthcare professionals, or establishing your practice.



In conclusion, The average Optometrist Salary in South Africa is R70,300. The salary of optometrists in South Africa is a multifaceted issue influenced by a combination of professional, economic, and regional factors. Aspiring optometrists should consider these variables when making career decisions, while policymakers should focus on addressing disparities and promoting equitable compensation within the healthcare system.

Becoming an optometrist in South Africa involves a dedicated educational journey, practical training, and successful completion of licensing requirements. Continuous learning and staying abreast of industry advancements are essential for a successful and fulfilling career in optometry.