The 2013 ATPO Salary Survey looks rosy, until you dig a little deeper

slv2ATPO and JCAHPO have published “The 2013 National Salary & Benefits Report for Ophthalmic Medical Personnel”. This survey is something that these organizations conduct every 2 years.  Each survey is a snapshot of the salary level of a segment of the OMP population. I call this a snapshot because it is a limited statistical sampling with some caveats.  However, the fact that we have some history gives us some insight into salary trends.

The survey was offered to a population of OMPs that are in the database of these organizations. The survey invitation was sent via email and the survey was administered on a website. Over 26,000 invitations were sent out and they received 3488 valid responses, which is a return of about 13%. The average age of the respondents was 44 and the majority had more than 10 years of experience in the field. Of course, this tells us that the results are skewed toward the salary of older, more experienced OMPs. Therefore, these figures by no means represent entry level or early career pay levels.

As also shown in previous studies, this study states that, “compensation increases with metropolitan (area) size, years of experience in ophthalmology, the size of the practice, and level of education.”

On the 2013 survey, the average salaries of the respondents were as follows (rounded to the nearest 1K):

COA®: $50K
COT®: $60K
COMT®: $71K

Comparisons to previous surveys are as follows:

2007 survey: $44K
2009 survey: $48K
2011 survey: $43K
2013 survey: $50K

2007 survey: $52K
2009 survey: $57K
2011 survey: $53K
2013 survey: $60K

2007 survey: $65K
2009 survey: $68K
2011 survey: $60K
2013 survey: $71K

What do these trends tell us? If you look at the jump between 2011 and 2013, you might feel pretty good about where OMP pay is headed.  However, consider that there was a significant downtrend between 2009 and 2011, at the time of the “great recession”.

Let’s look at technician salary from 2007 to 2013, which went from $52K to $60K over that 6 year period. According to the government, inflation has averaged 2% a year over the last 10 years. Therefore, $58.4K in 2013 dollars is equivalent to $52K in 2007 dollars. This means that real wages for this “average” technician have only increased $1.6K or about 3% in the past 6 years. That’s not 3% per year, that’s 3% total over the past 6 years. At least the profession is keeping up with inflation, so far.

The message from the survey is pretty clear, if you want higher (real) pay, get certified at a higher level.

COA Exam Prep Course
COT Exam Prep Course
COMT Exam Prep Course

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