Ophthalmologists are physician specialists who not only conduct medical exams, but also diagnose and treat diseases of the eye and perform eye surgeries. Ophthalmologists who perform vision-correction surgery like LASIK, have notably high earning potential. However, there are some variations when it comes to the average ophthalmologist salary.
Ophthalmologists in the US earn about $219,000 per year, on average, compared to those in Canada where annual earnings average C$250,000 or $197,980 USD. Salaries in Australia and New Zealand are similar at AU$200,000 ($156,364 USD) and NZ$150,000 ($104,611 USD), respectively. The average annual salary for ophthalmologists in the UK is £68,929 or $90,869 USD. Salaries vary worldwide with further details outlined in this guide.
How Much Does an Ophthalmologist Make?
Salary ranges vary by geographic region as shown in the table below.
|Ophthalmologist Salary||US||Canada||UK||Australia||New Zealand|
Ophthalmologist Salary Determinant Factors
While geographic region impacts salaries worldwide, professional experience has the greatest influence on income. The following paragraphs include additional information on salary, benefits and career outlook for a career in ophthalmology.
1. How Much Does an Ophthalmologist Make by Country?
Ophthalmologist Salary in the US
In the US, ophthalmologists earn hefty incomes. Starting salaries begin at about $103,000 and increase with experience to more than $353,545 per year. Bonus incentives can range from about $1,900 to more than $57,000 and some employers offer profit-sharing payments of $12,500. Popularity in vision correction surgery has sparked a rise in incomes for ophthalmologists who perform LASIK procedures. In fact, about 4% of the ophthalmologists working in the US earn more than $500,000 annually. The highest average annual incomes are found in California and Hawaii at $315,000.
Ophthalmologist Salary in Canada
Ophthalmologists in Canada earn between C$90,000 and C$501,669 per year with the average annual salary at about C$250,000. According to the Canadian Medical Association, about 78% of ophthalmologists work in private or group practices and it is a male-dominated field in the country.
Ophthalmologist Salary in the UK
As with other healthcare positions in the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) funds most ophthalmologist positions in the UK. Private sector positions may provide higher incomes, but the NHS salary range is often used as a guideline. Entry level ophthalmologists who have completed training earn between £36,492 and £69,325 per year and increase to between £75,249 and £195,743 for consultants with the most experience. Performance-based awards can further boost earnings. The average annual income is just under £69,000 per year with positions in London paying between 5% and 20% more due to the high-cost area supplement.
Ophthalmologist Salary in Australia
Ophthalmologists in Australia who are working as graduate medical interns, required for one year, earn a starting salary of about AU$60,000. An additional one to two years in general medicine training and at least five years in hospital-based specialized training are required, and at that time, earnings increase with most ophthalmologists making between AU$115,000 and AU$210,000 per year.
Ophthalmologist Salary in New Zealand
As with other physician salaries in New Zealand, wages for ophthalmologists are consistent throughout the country with the government setting the pay ranges. As physician specialists, ophthalmologists have annual salaries between NZ$150,000 and NZ$250,000 per year. Those who work more than 40 hours per week are eligible for overtime pay, which can boost annual earnings by NZ$15,000 to NZ$85,000.
2. How Much Does an Ophthalmologist Make According to Experience?
With experience comes higher salaries in the field of ophthalmology across the globe; however, these increases are not always significant as starting salaries begin at a rather high level. For example, in the US where starting salaries are notably high, reaching $100,000 per year, the difference in starting salaries and those for experienced ophthalmologists with 10 years’ experience or more is about $58,000 per year. This represents a difference of 160%, and there is very little change for professionals with 20 years’ or more experience.
In the UK, the difference in salary between an entry-level ophthalmologist who has completed training and that of a newly designated consultant is £38,073, or 102% increase. Increases with experience in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada are significant at 329%, 250% and 213%, respectively.
To practice as an ophthalmologist, medical school following completion of an undergraduate degree is necessary. A medical internship or residency and specialized training also are required as well as successful completion of a practical exam. Practicing ophthalmologists must be licensed and registered with the appropriate governing body at the federal, province or state level required for their country.
3. How Much Does an Ophthalmologist Make According to Work Environment?
Ophthalmologists are employed by hospitals, clinics and educational institutions, and a large percentage work in private solo or group practice. In the US, those who work with healthcare organizations earn $352,000 per year on average compared to $327,000 for those in private practice. In Canada, where earnings are highest among those reviewed in this guide, 78% of ophthalmologists work in private practice, followed by 20% who work in academic health science or a teaching hospital. Most career professionals working in ophthalmology indicate high job satisfaction and a good work-life balance.
While many ophthalmologists work full-time, there are opportunities for flexible scheduling. In fact, in the UK, many ophthalmologists work part-time or combine ophthalmology work with general practice work, and many positions are structured as job shares. Full-time employment is regarded as 37.5 hours in the UK and 40 hours in New Zealand, while professionals in Canada and the US often work 50 hours or more, exclusive of on-call hours. Typical work hours for ophthalmologists are Monday through Friday during daytime work hours. Some overtime and on-call hours may be required, particularly for those early in their careers or employed by hospitals; however, when compared to other physician specialties, evening and weekend hours are less.
Bonuses and Benefits
Healthcare benefits, including medical, dental and vision insurance, are typically available; however, those working in private practice may be responsible for funding more of this expense. Other commonly paid benefits include vacation time and holidays, overtime, and travel and fees for conferences and continuing medical education requirements.
An aging population combined with an increasing number of professionals expected to retire in the coming years is expected to increase demand for individuals entering a career in ophthalmology. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 14% job growth between 2014 and 2024. A report filed by the UK Center for Working Intelligence also indicated that the demand for ophthalmologists is expected to grow.
Recommended read: If you are interested in other jobs related to ophthalmology, we also recommend reading our guide to the optometrist salary.
While physicians are among the highest paid professions worldwide, ophthalmologists garner some of the highest incomes among physician specialists. Professionals enjoy high job satisfaction and work-life balance with opportunities for flexible scheduling and fewer evening and weekend hours. Job outlook is expected to remain strong and continue supporting high-income levels.