Flinders University optometry graduates 2015
By Helen Carter
Salaries for graduate optometrists from the double bachelor degree program in Australia have jumped $10,000 in one year to $80,000, a new report suggests.
The median starting salary of graduates with a combined bachelor/masters by coursework or a Doctor of Optometry is higher at $82,500.
The increase places graduate optometrists on the equal highest starting salary of all Australian university bachelor degree graduates, along with dentistry graduates.
However, the report’s authors said caution should be exercised when examining fields of education with a small number of responses such as optometry.
The report found that the median starting salary for bachelor degree optometry graduates in their first full-time employment and aged younger than 25 years, was $80,000 in 2015.
The figure is based on surveying 30 optometry graduates from UNSW who graduated in 2015 and had started their first optometry job by April 2016. UNSW offers a double bachelor degree in optometry and is the only optometry school in Australia which offers a bachelor degree.
The figure compared with $70,000 in both 2014 and 2013, and was $26,000 higher than the average median starting salary for bachelor degree graduates generally in Australia.
The survey found the average working week for these graduate optometrists in 2015 was 39.4 hours and they were paid just under $40 per hour.
The median starting salary of graduates with a combined bachelor/masters by coursework from Queensland University of Technology, Flinders and Deakin universities, or a Doctor of Optometry from the University of Melbourne was $82,500.
This was based on surveying 27 optometry graduates from QUT, Flinders and Deakin universities and six graduates from the Doctor of Optometry program at the University of Melbourne.
The median salary for those with postgraduate diplomas or certificates in full-time employment as an optometrist in 2015 was about $30,000 higher at $112,000. This was based on surveying 21 optometrists.
Optometry Australia standards and research adviser Patricia Kiely said this figure was probably not for new graduates in their first year out but established optometrists who had gone back to do a qualification such as a postgraduate certificate in therapeutics.
Graduate Careers Australia released its Graduate Salaries 2015 report on 9 August.
Optometry and dentistry graduates topped earnings followed by graduates from medicine, $65,000; education $61,000; and engineering, earth sciences, and mathematics, all $60,000.
The largest growth in median starting salary between 2014 and 2015 was in optometry, $10,000, followed by dentistry and medicine, which both recorded jumps of $5,000.
In 2015, the median starting salary for bachelor degree graduates aged younger than 25 years and in their first full-time employment in Australia was $54,000, up from $52,500 in 2014. This was 75.8 per cent of the annual rate of male average weekly earnings, which were $71,200 at the time of the survey.
Health graduates enjoyed the greatest salary growth of nearly 40 per cent between 2012 and 2015.
Optometry and paramedical studies were the two fields where growth in starting salary exceeded the average growth since 1988.
Graduate Careers Australia’s 2015 Australian Graduate Survey includes four reports which detail graduates’ employment and earnings three years out from university, and show where employed graduates were working and how they found their job.
The reports are Graduate Salaries 2015, Graduate Destinations 2015, (recent graduates’ labour market and further study outcomes), Beyond Graduation 2015 and Graduate Course Experience.
Graduate Destinations 2015 noted that bachelor degree graduates with some work experience gained before or during their study years had an advantage in the labour market after graduation.
Of graduates who found full-time work in 2015, the most common methods were, in order of success, checking advertisements via the internet, talking to family or friends, using their university or college careers service, and approaching employers directly.
Previous reports showed that from 2012 to 2013 the median starting salary for graduate optometrists dropped for the first time in a decade from $79,000 to $70,000. In 2014, salaries plateaued, remaining stable at $70,000.
In 2000 the average starting salary for optometry graduates was $40,000, 2001 and 2002 $43,000, 2003 and 2004 $50,000, and 2005 $52,000. In 2006 it was $51,200, 2007 $56,500, 2008 $60,000, 2009 $64,500, and 2010 and 2011 $70,000.