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Income data shows ophthalmic industry wages on the rise in Australia

ophthalmic wages Australia

Male ophthalmologists again reported the largest annual taxable income out of all occupations in Australia at $703,700 in the latest available data, which also reveals increases in the average wages earned by other ophthalmic industry professions, including optometrists and optical dispensers.

The average income of 416 male eye doctors (median $511,200) outranked all other medical specialities and other high-powered careers in law and finance, according to new data from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for the 2020-21 financial year. The average income earned by this cohort is also 12% more than the previous financial year ($624,500).

The second highest earning group in 2020-21 was male neurosurgeons at $655,000 (median $486,800).

The national tax department recently released a detailed breakdown of the average taxable income for each occupation in Australia.

The 2020-21 data is the latest available, with the average taxable Australian income overall increasing from being $63,882 to $68,289 (median $50,980). However, the information is limited in nature; for example, it only includes data visible to the tax department and captures annual incomes of all part-time, casual and fulltime workers. For professions where a greater proportion work part-time, this could skew salaries down. Therefore, when comparing across professions or between men and women, it may not necessarily be a like-for-like comparison.

According to the ATO, the average taxable income of 604 Australian ophthalmologists (male and female) was $592,400, a $13% increase on the year prior. The average taxable income across 188 female ophthalmologists was $346,100, 10% more than the year before.

Meanwhile, the average taxable income across 4,799 Australian optometrists was $106,800 (median $91,641), up from $92,800 in 2019-20. Male optometrists earned $125,600 on average in the latest data, while females earned $94,100.

For optical dispensers, the average taxable income was $45,500 ($54,100 males and $43,200 for females), up from $42,900 in the year prior. Optical mechanics earned $66,600 on average (males $68,200 and females $64,100).

Health practice managers continued to earn healthy wages, at an average taxable income of $80,800 (males $105,100 and females $77,400).

The data showed orthoptists had an average taxable income of $68,200, comprised of 888 females and 125 males. Male orthoptists generated $80,500 on average and females $66,500.

The ATO figures also revealed the average income of medical and pharmaceutical sales representatives, which was $119,367.

When men and women are grouped together, ophthalmology was one seven medical specialties earning more than half a million dollars, with the top three being neurosurgeons $604,500, ophthalmologists $592,400 and otorhinolaryngologist $577,500.

An analysis of the data also shows that there was a major gap between the total taxable income of ophthalmologists and their salaries, which is perhaps indicative of a tendency to run small-to- medium sized businesses and invest in other areas. For example, the average ophthalmology salary was $179,000, which is $413,000 less than the average taxable income for the profession.

Top 10 earning occupations (men and women):

Neurosurgeon – $604,582
Ophthalmologist – $592,414
Otorhinolaryngologist – $577,500
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon – $568,439
Urologist – $527,844
Cardiologist – $507,684
Orthopaedic specialist – $502,927
Vascular surgeon – $477,280
Diagnostic and interventional radiologist – $469,622
Cardiothoracic surgeon – $461,185

More reading

Salaries revealed for ophthalmic professions

Ophthalmologists rank among top earning doctors in latest income data

More Australian ophthalmologists seek the security of private group practice

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