The benefits that come to us as conditions of our employment are key factors that we consider, along with financial compensation, when deciding whether to accept or remain in a job. But how do we weigh them against each other, decide which are most valuable to us, and consider overall benefit packages that contain different offerings?
Knowing what other veterinarians in similar positions are receiving can help us appreciate what’s possible—both as employees and employers—and make informed decisions at the negotiation table.
What the data show
Today’s chart shows which employee benefits are more common than others in the compensation packages of associate veterinarians, as reported in the 2023 AVMA Report on the Economic State of the Veterinary Profession.
As the chart shows, the most common benefits provided to associate veterinarians include licensure reimbursement, paid CE expenses, discounted pet care, paid vacation leave, and payment of association dues. Least common—reported by fewer than 5% of associates—are personal use of a vehicle, informal profit-sharing plan, pet insurance, educational loan repayment, gym membership, pension plan, and housing assistance.
There are some differences between benefits reported in public practice vs. private practice. Notably, public practice veterinarians are more likely to receive benefits that support wellbeing, such as paid vacation leave (82%), paid sick leave (73%), paid legal holidays (69%), employee assistance programs (32%), and paid parental leave (30%).
Do we know what benefits are most valued?
No specific information is available to indicate which specific employee benefits veterinarians consider most valuable. But a 2023 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management does provide some indication across all industries. That survey asked human resource professionals across the nation about the importance of different benefit offerings, and more than two-thirds of respondents identified health-related benefits, retirement savings/planning, leave, and flexible work as very or extremely important to their employees.
What can we do with this information?
Factors like location, work hours, and compensation level certainly are important to associate veterinarians. But employee benefits also can play a pivotal role in recruitment and retention, and may improve employee productivity and engagement. These data provide some guideposts to consider when we are evaluating—or putting together—employee benefits packages.
For veterinarians negotiating or assessing their employment, these figures can serve as benchmarks when appraising an offer, or even when considering alternative career options like public practice.
Equally, for employers, benefits packages are an important differentiator in a competitive job market. These research benchmarks can help build compensation packages that are competitive on all fronts, increasing the attractiveness of a job position. For example, providing an individual and their family with health insurance might sometimes move the needle more than a higher salary.
It’s not one-size-fits-all, of course. Different people prioritize different things, and it can help to be open to negotiation.
The AVMA salary estimator can help identify salary ranges to provide benchmarks for hiring negotiations for veterinarians in their first six years after graduating from veterinary school. Veterinary jobseekers can find many other helpful resources in the Veterinary Career Center.
These additional AVMA resources can help veterinary employers and hiring managers make informed decisions about compensation and benefits, and identify opportunities to make both recruitment and retention more successful.