According to the 2023 Income Study conducted by Jobson Optical Research, optometrists’ incomes in 2022 were higher than the year before; however, women ODs’ income was significantly lower than male ODs’ income. The 2023 study analyzed responses from 337 optometrists, all full-time (working 32+ hours per week).
The study examines income data by family status, as well as the family’s primary income-earner status. In the categories where women ODs were the primary income earner, their income was an average of $40,000 lower than their male counterparts.
Each year that Jobson Optical Research has conducted this study, male ODs have out-earned female ODs. Common responses to the issue of a pay gap are that men either work longer (all respondents here were considered full-time) or that men have been working longer. This study looks at average income by years worked, as well, identifying respondents by years in industry in five-year groupings and finds that even with taking these factors into consideration, men ODs’ incomes generally are higher than women ODs’ incomes.
SETTINGS AND EXPERIENCES ACCOUNTED FOR
In addition, the gap showed up in different working settings – although the gap was less apparent in group practices with 4-to-10 locations, conventional chains (where women reported higher income). The largest gap was among those who worked in independent optometric settings, which was also listed as the primary work setting for the majority of OD respondents, male and female. Overall, about nine percent of the respondents said they are working in a private equity-owned practice, and women ODs reported higher average earnings there.
Among this year’s respondents, 48% said they were owners/partners or self-employed ODs, with 55% of women OD respondents saying they were and 39% of men ODs saying they were. The average pay for women owners/partners or self-employed ODs was calculated at about $75,000 lower than men’s reported earnings. For employed ODs, the report found that men out-earned women by an average of $24,000.
About 53% of all OD respondents said that they are still working at the same practice where they started their careers. Men and women reported switching jobs at roughly equal percentages around the same number of times. However, 31% of women ODs, compared to 16% of male ODs, reported switching to a job in the past five years where the income was lower.
Overall, male ODs reported working an estimated 41.6 hours a week, while female ODs reported an average of 39.8 hours a week. Both male and female respondents reported taking an average of 13 days of personal time off in 2022. Women reported negotiating more than their male colleagues: 25% of women and 13% of men asked for more money in 2022; 13% of women and 10% of men asked for other benefits.
Overall, male ODs report higher satisfaction with their income.
The Jobson annual income survey provides more detail on the income of optometrists as well as opticians, dispensers and office managers. A full copy of the report is available to purchase here.