Report: Market for veterinarians has been robust

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Report cover: 2016 AVMA Rerport on the Market for VeterinariansThe national market for veterinarians remained robust in 2015 for a second straight year, according to the 2016 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians. Per the report, “The single largest source of this improvement has been the growth in the U.S. economy.”

The AVMA released the report Oct. 26 as the third of four economic reports for 2016. The reports are available at for free download by AVMA members or for purchase by others as a series.

The 2016 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians covers veterinarians’ employment, unemployment, and underemployment; income and the net present value of the veterinary degree; and data available on possible causes of negative well-being: debt, job/career satisfaction and income, expenditure patterns, burnout scores, and health.

According to the report’s introduction: “The largest markets for veterinarians are those of private practice (e.g., companion animal, food animal, equine and mixed animal), comprising roughly three-quarters of all active veterinarians. Other markets, such as education, research, industry, government, nonprofits, banking and consulting, employ the remaining quarter of active veterinarians.”

Key findings of the report include the following:

  • The market for veterinarians has witnessed the second straight year of low unemployment and increasing mean salaries.
  • The applicant-to-jobs ratio decreased to one or less in 2015.
  • In 2015, veterinary unemployment remained below the national mean and was not significantly different from 2014.
  • Veterinary underemployment was again negative in 2015, with more veterinarians indicating they wish to work fewer hours for less compensation than those who wish to work additional hours for more compensation.
  • The net present value of the veterinary degree has been declining since the earliest data were available in 2010. The primary reason for this decline is the increasing “opportunity costs”: Starting salaries for bachelor’s degree holders grew 19 percent over this period, whereas starting salaries for veterinary degree holders grew about 5.5 percent.

According to the report: “In an effort to address the growing concern over the wellness of veterinarians, the AVMA has been collecting data through the Employment Survey on self-reported wellness of veterinarians. The point of this collection has been to attempt to find correlations of well-being with employment and demographic characteristics. To quantify the concerns about wellness in the veterinary profession, it is important to know the characteristics of those who are at the highest risk of wellness issues.”

The report’s summary states: “Finally, the report illustrates a new research thrust of AVMA’s Veterinary Economics Division to begin to look more closely at the potential differences in local compared to national market conditions. This report provides results of an analysis of veterinarians in the state of Indiana, and next year we will provide the results for Arizona, Colorado, Texas, bovine practices, equine practices and a segment of specialists, the lab animal practitioners. Workforce characteristics in Indiana and the U.S. are compared in this year’s report, and the value of the veterinary services sector to the Indiana economy is computed.”

Related JAVMA content:

Report predicts increase in starting salaries (Oct. 1, 2015)

Profession’s economic health coming into focus (Dec. 15, 2015)

Report: Veterinary markets provide optimism, opportunities (May 15, 2016)