New report highlights growth, opportunities in veterinary profession

Published on November 16, 2020
2020 AVMA State of the Veterinary Profession report cover

The AVMA’s annual Economic State of the Veterinary Profession report highlights strong growth and continued demographic shifts in the veterinary profession in 2019, along with the impact of COVID-19 and the economic challenges and opportunities for veterinarians moving forward.

The report provides an essential measurement of the state of veterinary medicine and gives valuable insight on trends that affect veterinary professionals in all fields of focus.

Key findings in the 2020 Economic State of the Veterinary Profession include:

  • Starting salaries for new veterinarians and average salary for all veterinarians increased in 2019 from the previous year. 
  • Average compensation of new veterinary graduates in 2019 was $70,045, up from $65,983 in 2018. 
  • Over 94% of 2019 veterinary school graduates found full-time employment or opportunities to continue their education.
  • The veterinary profession saw low unemployment and high rates of job offers for new graduates across all species focus and industries in 2019. 
  • Companion animal medicine continues to be the predominant focus for veterinarians.
  • Student debt remains a concern, but the average debt level for new graduates fell by $2,481 as a record-high 18.2% of graduates graduated without debt.

Demographic and cultural shifts

The report also delves into demographic shifts in veterinary medicine. Women and millennials continue to dominate these shifts. As Baby Boomers approach and pass retirement milestones, millennials have begun to represent a greater bulk of veterinarians, approaching 35% of the profession. Women now comprise 70% of all veterinarians.

With these demographic shifts come changes to workplace culture and needs, and the AVMA’s analysis finds many opportunities to continue strengthening the profession. Wellbeing and mental health remain a top priority to help ensure veterinary professionals thrive in a rewarding profession. As demographics change, work preferences require new tactics for attracting and retaining talent. 

COVID-19 and veterinary medicine

The report also highlights the sudden, far-reaching, and varied impact COVID-19 had on the veterinary profession in 2020. Across the country, veterinary practices made tremendous changes to ensure patients continued to receive essential veterinary care while new safety measures were put in place to protect team members and clients. Included within the report are data and insights related to the effects of COVID-19 on practices, and how practices have responded.

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AVMA serves as a trusted source of comprehensive economic data and analysis for the veterinary profession and applies the findings of this research to build practical tools that help AVMA members succeed financially. This work is made possible by the contributions of individual AVMA members, who take time to respond to surveys and contribute information that guides the profession.

The 2020 Economic State of the Veterinary Profession is available free of charge to all AVMA members in downloadable PDF format.

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