Survey results show rise in hospital employee pay

Veterinary hospitals are paying their associate veterinarians more and managers a little more than they did two years earlier, recent survey results suggest.

In January, the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association announced the findings from the organization’s 2021 compensation and benefits survey, through which the organization collected responses from members of the VHMA and Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.

Full-time associate veterinarians reported earning a median of $120,000 in 2021, up from $98,000 in 2019, when the VHMA conducted its next most recent biennial survey.

Doctor with a clipboard writing prescription

All practice types were surveyed, and VMHA officials said the report covers the types of practices that provided enough data. Those include companion animal, mixed animal, emergency, and specialty practices.

The median salary for office managers rose 14%, from $42,000 to $47,750, according to survey responses. The median salary for practice managers increased 9%, from $55,000 to $60,000.

The median salary for hospital administrators rose about 4%—from $72,334 to $75,000—not high enough to keep up with inflation. Prices nationwide went up more than 6% between the surveys, according to Consumer Price Index data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The VHMA distributed the two most recent surveys in June of 2019 and 2021 and collected responses through August of each year. The 2021 responses provided data on about 200 associate veterinarians, 400 managers, and 2,000 other nonveterinarian hospital employees.

The 2021 report also describes differences in salaries by practice type. Among full-time associates, those in emergency practice or emergency and specialty practice reported the highest median incomes, at $157,000 and $150,000, respectively, whereas respondents for small animal and mixed animal practice types were below the $120,000 median.

Among practice managers, the median annual salaries ranged from $55,000 for mixed animal practice to $70,000 for emergency and specialty practice. For hospital administrators, the median ranged from $57,000 for mixed animal practice to $120,000 for emergency and specialty practice.

The survey responses also provide some details on benefits offered to veterinary hospital employees.

The responses suggest about 82% of veterinary practices provide health insurance and cover a median of 60% of that cost. Two-thirds also provide dental insurance, covering a median of half that cost. About 80% provide a retirement plan, and the practices bear a median of 3% of that cost.

Almost all the clinics provide discounts on veterinary care, typically covering half the cost, and about 8% cover the premiums for employee pet insurance. In terms of professional benefits, the survey respondents indicated about 80% of practices covered the cost of licensing or certification, and two-thirds cover the cost of professional association dues.

A version of this article appears in the Feb. 15, 2022, print issue of JAVMA.