The average median ophthalmologist salary in the United States is reported to be about $257,000 per year or about $123 per hour. The bottom 10th percentile of ophthalmologists reported a salary of $184,000 or less per year which is about $88 or less per hour. The highest 10th percentile reported salaries of about $328,000 or more per year or about $158 or more per hour. The middle 50% of the professionals in this job reported wages between $218,000 and $294,000 per year which is between $104 and $141 per hour. Just like most jobs out there, how much an ophthalmologist earns depends greatly on many factors. Factors such as work experience, place of work, type of establishment, geographical location and skills level will determine how much they make.
Ophthalmologists are also entitled to many benefits and bonuses from their employers. When you add on benefits such as bonuses, social security, health care benefits, paid holidays, pension and 401K can bring the median total compensation package for ophthalmologists to about $336,000 per year. There are a good number of ophthalmologists who earn more than $500,000 per year. These are usually senior partners or those have their own private practices.
Job description of an ophthalmologist
What do they do? An ophthalmologist is a specialized physician that specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries of the eye and supporting structures. In simple terms, they are known as eye doctors.
They are trained to perform surgery on the eye when needed. Some of the duties of an ophthalmologist includes:
Diagnosing and treating of diseases and injuries of the eye and supporting structures such as the eyelids and conjunctiva.
Prescription of ophthalmologic treatments and therapies like chemotherapy, low vision therapy and cryotherapy. They perform and extensive analysis of the visual system to diagnose the extent of disorders relating to the eye.
They are fully licensed to carry out eye surgeries such as glaucoma, vitro-retinal, cataract and corneal. They also perform laser eye surgeries to correct vision problems. They also consult with patients, based on their medical history, to come up with treatment plans.
Ophthalmologists also undertake the prescription of corrective lenses such as contact lenses and eye glasses. They often consult with other medical specialists in the treatment of other diseases closely related to the eye. Illnesses such as ophthalmic migraines.
There are many more job responsibilities of an ophthalmologist. However their basic duty is that they are specialists in the treatment of injuries and diseases related to the eye and its supporting structures.
How to become an ophthalmologist
Ophthalmologists are physicians with a specialty in the treatment and prevention of diseases of the eye. As physicians, they are required to have completed medical school. The education required to become an ophthalmologist is very tough and long. You need four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school and a minimum of four years of specialized training.
Admission into medical school is a very competitive process. You will need good grades from your bachelor’s degree program. You will also need to sit and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Medical school admission also requires an interview with the admission board. There are thousands of applications each year and very few are accepted. It is therefore very important to have very good GPA, good MCAT sores, take part in extra-curricular activities and be prepared to nail the interview. Most medical schools also require letters of recommendation.
Medical school will last four years and during this time you will take laboratory and classroom based lessons as well as some practical clinical experience.
After graduating medical school you will do at least a one year internship. Following this internship, you will be required to do three years supervised residency training in ophthalmology. This is where you are trained to perform eye surgery.
There are subspecialties of ophthalmology that require an additional 1- 2 years of fellowship. These include strabismus/pediatric ophthalmologist, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery.
You may want to become board certified by taking and passing the exam administered by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Becoming board certified will make it easier for you to find a job or start your own practice.
Ophthalmologist salary in other countries (UK, Canada and Australia)
In Australian, Ophthalmologists earn between AU$152,000 and AU$205,000 per year depending on experience and type of establishment. Interns earn about AU$57,000 per year.
In the UK, those working in the NHS system as consultants can expect an annual salary between £74,000 and £101,000 depending on years of experience. Those in private employment might earn slightly different income.
In Canada, the average ophthalmologist salary is reported to be between CA$175,000 and CA$400,000 depending on many factors.
Verdict on ophthalmologist salary
Ophthalmologists earn some of the highest salaries in the healthcare industry. This is not a surprise considering the extensive education requirement and the delicate surgeries they perform.