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Sharon Granskog
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 Veterinary school graduates see drop in job offers, starting salaries

(SCHAUMBURG, Ill.) Sept. 26, 2012 – The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) annual survey of graduating veterinary students reveals that they are getting fewer job offers and earning less in their first year of employment.

For more than 20 years, the AVMA, in conjunction with the 28 veterinary schools and colleges in the United States, has conducted an annual survey of all fourth-year U.S. veterinary students in an effort to gauge job placement and salary levels. In reviewing the results, it should be kept in mind that the students are surveyed before they have graduated and before many of them have been offered or have accepted veterinary jobs, or offers of advanced education such as internships.

At the time of this year’s survey, 61.5 percent of veterinary students seeking a position in 2012 received an offer of employment or advanced education, down from 74.3 percent in 2011 and from 78.9 percent in 2010. The average number of job offers the students received was 1.6 in 2012, the same as in 2011.

The average starting salary for all students accepting employment was $45,575, down 3 percent from $46,971 in 2011. When excluding graduates entering advanced education, the average starting salary was $65,404, down 1.6 percent from the average starting salary of $66,469 in 2011.

“We are concerned that we are beginning to see trends in both the number of jobs offered and starting salaries,” said AVMA President Dr. Doug Aspros. “The economy may certainly be at play here, and this may be a temporary reflection of the country’s overall employment picture. But it is troubling that graduates are receiving fewer job offers and that compensation is not keeping pace with the cost of attaining a veterinary degree.”

The survey also shows that educational debt continues to rise for those veterinary students who report that they have debt. The average student debt for the 89.2 percent of veterinary students who reported that they expected to have debt at the time of their graduation was $151,672, up 6.4 percent from $142,613 in 2011. The remaining 10.8 percent of survey respondents indicated that they did not expect to have debt at the time of graduation.

"We fully recognize that most students graduating from college face some educational debt, regardless of the degree they pursue,” Dr. Aspros said. “But we find it disheartening that annual increases in the level of debt for veterinary graduates are racing so far ahead of the graduates’ capability to identify and secure positions that compensate them for the doctorate they have achieved.”

The AVMA continues to collaborate with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, veterinary school deans, state and federal governments, and other stakeholders in an effort to address the issue and to find ways to help veterinary students minimize and manage their debt.

The association is also engaged in a comprehensive workforce study focusing on the supply and demand of veterinary jobs across all sectors of the profession. IHS Global Insight, which is conducting the study, will incorporate the graduate survey data into its findings.

“Veterinary graduates are the future of our profession, and they will help ensure animal and human health for a long time to come,” Dr. Aspros said. “As an association, we are working hard to improve the profession’s economic future by tackling some of the complex issues associated with educational debt and the current state of the veterinary workforce. We are confident that the concerted efforts of all those involved, including our graduates, will provide answers to many of the challenges we face.”

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