Physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating illnesses or conditions that affect the eyes are called Ophthalmologists. Ophthalmology is an interesting specialty that covers a variety of subspecialties such as retina/uveitis, neuro-ophthalmology, glaucoma and ocular oncology.

If you are interested in joining this field, then keep reading this detailed article. It will help you figure out how to become an Ophthalmologist in the U.S.

Should I Become a Ophthalmologist?

If you are empathetic, have good analytical skills, and have excellent hand-eye coordination, then you should consider becoming an ophthalmologist.

Since Ophthalmology is a specialty within medicine, therefore candidates who want to work in this area have to meet the training, education, and licensing requirements of Physicians and Surgeons. These are highlighted below.

Education Required Doctoral degree from an accredited medical school.
Training Residency/Internship experience is required.
Licenses/Certifications A license is needed.
Key Skills/Qualities Detail-Oriented, Physical Stamina, Dexterity, Leadership Skills, Problem-Solving Skills, and Analytical Skills are required.
Annual Mean Salary – US (2020) $218,850 (Physicians, All Other; and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric)
Job Outlook (2020-2030) 3% (Physicians and Surgeons)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

The job opportunities for Physicians and Surgeons will increase by 3% from 2020 to 2030 according to the figures published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Steps to Become a Ophthalmologist

The following stages have to be cleared in order to become an Ophthalmologist in the U.S.

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s degree
  2. Since medical training is science based, you are advised to pursue a Bachelor’s program in disciplines such as Chemistry or Biology. You should compare and contrast different pre-med tracks being offered in universities, and then choose the program which is the most comprehensive. It typically takes around four years to get done with a Bachelor’s degree.

  1. Ace the MCAT
  2. One of the reasons why Bachelors students are advised to focus on a science related degree is to help them prepare for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The training you receive during college will help you ace this standardized exam.

  1. Enroll in a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) program

  2. In order to get into medical school, you will be required to send an application to the admissions office along with your MCAT score, transcripts and letters of recommendations. Please note that admission to medical schools are extremely competitive and you should apply to as many schools as possible in order to avoid disappointment.
    Once you have gained admission to a medical school, you will have to study a range of modules such as Hematology and Oncology, Psychosocial Issues in Healthcare and Cellular Function and Medical Genetics. After completing the doctoral coursework, you will also have to complete a one-year long internship program and a three year-long residency program

  1. Get Licensed and Board Certified
  2. You will then be required to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination in order to get the medical license. Moreover, in order to get certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, you will have to clear a written and an oral exam.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Ophthalmologist?

The process of becoming an Ophthalmologist can be exhausting, stressful and nerve-wracking. You will have to complete a four-year long undergraduate program, followed by a four-year long doctoral degree from an accredited medical school. Moreover, you will have to complete at least one year long internship and a three year-long residency in ophthalmology. Thus, it can take around twelve years or more to become an Ophthalmologist.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Ophthalmologist

In order to work as an Ophthalmologist in the U.S., you will be required to:

  • Obtain a doctoral degree from an accredited osteopathic or allopathic medical school.
  • Complete an internship and residency program.
  • Pass the medical licensing exam.


How Much Do Ophthalmologists Make?

The broad category of Physicians, All Other; and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric identified by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also includes Ophthalmologists. Wage statistics show that they made a yearly mean salary of $218,850 in 2020.