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New veterinarians earn average pay of $70,045

An AVMA report finds that starting salaries jumped by 6% in 2019 and 18% of graduates bore no student debt.

New veterinarians earn average pay of $70,045

The average starting salary for newly graduated veterinarians rose by 6% in 2019 and a record 18% of them entered the profession debt-free, according to a new report from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The 2020 Economic State of the Veterinary Profession study also reported low unemployment and high rates of job offers among DVM graduates along with a $2,600 gender pay gap.

The average annual starting salary, $70,045, increased from $65,983 in 2018. The highest earners were found in private companion animal exclusive practices, at $90,893. Mixed-animal veterinarians started at an average of $75,391, up $2,300 from 2018, and the typical new equine practitioner took home $53,804, a rise of 3.7%.

While just over 18% of graduates left school with no student debt, the average owed by those who took out loans increased to $183,302. The average for all 2019 graduates was $149,877, a decline of $2,481 from 2018.

The report highlighted what the AVMA called a “staggering” contrast in debt loads by school. The median loan debt ranged from $80,000 for 2019 Texas A&M University graduates to $340,000 at Midwestern University, a private institution.

“The distribution of student debt across colleges … presents an opportunity for colleges to communicate horizontally and share successful strategies to reduce student loan debt,” such as financial counseling and need-based scholarships, the report noted.

The AVMA report included sections on the market for veterinarians, the market for veterinary services and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was based on surveys conducted in 2019 and early 2020.

Among other findings:

  • Female veterinarians who graduated in 2019 earned an average of $2,600 less a year compared with their male classmates. “Continued focus on reducing the pay gap is needed,” the report stated, “along with education on salary negotiation and the development of policies supporting equitable pay.”
  • Wellness exams generate up to 30% of revenue at small practices.
  • Millennial employees make up 35% of the veterinary profession.
  • As of early 2020, when the pandemic was emerging, over 80% of practices experienced shortages of personal protective equipment and sanitation equipment.
  • Over 30% of veterinary practices reported using telemedicine.

AVMA members can download the full report for free at bit.ly/32ZG8EA.


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