Starting salaries for veterinarians are expected to increase substantially between 2014 and 2024, according to a new report from the AVMA.
On July 30, the Association released the 2015 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians. The report covers compensation trends in veterinary medicine and other aspects of supply and demand in the market for veterinarians.
Increase in starting salaries
The mean starting salary for new veterinary graduates taking a position in private practice in 2014 was approximately $67,000, with the mean starting salary in companion animal–exclusive practice at just below $70,000. The report predicts that an increase in starting salaries will follow from an improving economy and a forecast that continued growth in the number of veterinary graduates is unlikely.
According to the report, “The demand for companion animal exclusive practitioners depends on the demand for services from pet owners, and their demand depends on their level of income. As pet owners’ incomes rise, their demand for veterinary services rises. As a consequence, the demand for veterinarians will rise, leading to an increasing willingness on the part of employers to offer higher salaries to obtain the services of a new veterinarian.”
The addition of new veterinarians to companion animal–exclusive practice has very little impact on starting salaries, according to analysis in the report, “while the income of pet owners has a very large impact. Thus, as a result of a projected improving economy and our forecast of a continued increase in the number of new veterinarians entering companion animal exclusive practice through 2019, with no annual increase after that, we project that mean starting salaries will see a steady increase to roughly $84,000 in 2020, reaching a high just shy of $94,000 in 2024.”
The summary continues, “While the demand for food animal veterinary services is not directly related to consumers’ disposable income, the demand for animal protein in the U.S. markets ensures a robust demand for food animal veterinarians.” The report estimates that the mean starting salary in the food animal–predominant sector will increase from approximately $68,000 in 2014 to just over $87,000 in 2024.
The report estimates that the mean starting salary in mixed practice will increase from approximately $63,000 in 2014 to more than $86,000 in 2024; in equine practice, from approximately $42,000 in 2014 to roughly $52,000 in 2024; and in uniformed services, from approximately $64,000 in 2014 to approximately $81,000 in 2024.
The report also provides age-earnings profiles, which plot expected income against years of experience, for men and women in private and public practice. The profiles come from data from 1999 through 2013.
Contrary to recent trends, males practicing equine medicine have historically been the highest compensated group,” according to the report, referring to equine practice becoming less lucrative. Among men in private practice, the next highest compensation curves are in mixed animal practice and companion animal practice, and the lowest are in food animal practice and “other.”
The age-earnings profiles for women are similar among most sectors of private practice, according to the report, “though the food animal veterinarians appear to have lower wages for the majority of their careers.”
Among men and women in public practice, the age-earnings profiles are highest in industry. For men in public practice, the compensation curve is flattest in state and local government, “meaning that, while their starting salaries are quite competitive, wage raises are relatively slow compared to all of the other practice types.”
The 2015 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians provides many more details about compensation trends and other aspects of supply and demand. The report is the fourth in a series of six reports on the economics of veterinary medicine. The series is available for purchase online from the AVMA Store. The price is $249 for AVMA members and $499 for nonmembers. Additional information is available by calling 800-248-2862, ext. 6655, or emailing productordersavma [dot] org.
Related JAVMA content:
While new salaries grow, debt remains a drag (June 15, 2015)
Report sheds new light on veterinary employment (April 15, 2015)
Market improving, but value of veterinary degree unclear (December 15, 2014)
Correction: An earlier version of this article gave two inaccurate figures. The mean starting salary for veterinarians in the food animal–predominant sector was approximately $68,000 in 2014, not $73,000. The latter is the figure for the food animal–exclusive sector. The mean starting salary in mixed practice was approximately $63,000 in 2014, not $64,000.