Ophthalmologists—or eye surgeons—enjoy the benefits of a competitive, high-paying and personally rewarding career. These professionals are charged with the important task of diagnosing and treating eye problems, sometimes surgically. An ophthalmologist may practice in a variety of areas, from relatively routine eye care to specialized eye treatments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is also expected to enjoy healthy job growth through at least 2016, because of the need for, and growing awareness of, quality eye care.
One of the many perks of a career in ophthalmology is the option of choosing, and even changing, one’s work environment. An individual may choose to work in a private practice or may opt to join a dynamic team at a hospital. Working with a large group ensures backup coverage and more vacation days, while working on one’s own or with a partner can allow an ophthalmologist to take on the administrative duties of an office. Offices are usually well lit, comfortable, and customizable to one’s preference.
For the many individuals who love their jobs, advancement in the field is often incentive based as quality work and attention to detail are valued. Many clinics and hospitals will pay the full price of an ophthalmologist’s continuing education to allow an individual to continue to advance. Supervisory roles and greater benefits, such as salary increases or job promotions, may be awarded to those who take their work seriously.
Work as an ophthalmologist need not be the same from day to day, and many individuals find that by specializing in an area of their choice, they can experience a rewarding variety of tasks. Specialized areas of the field, including pediatric ophthalmology, neuroophthalmology, and ocular oncology, allow a person to choose and pursue the area of the field she most enjoys.
Employment is expected to grow 11 to 14 percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is better than average for all careers in the United States. Some specialties in eye surgery are reporting job shortages, which can make the search for employment easier. Moreover, job security exists in salaried practices, and every area of the nation—from affluent ones to poor ones, urban areas to rural areas—is in need of qualified, licensed ophthalmologists who can work toward the betterment of citizens.
Ophthalmologists enjoy some of the highest starting salaries of any career in the United States. Most who specialize in a particular area make more than $100,000 with less than two years of experience in their specialty, and with more experience many make several hundreds of thousands in a year. Self-employed surgeons may make higher wages than employees salaried at a hospital.