2013 California Veterinary Economic Issues Survey

The CVMA has published the 2013 Economic Issues Survey, a report compiling statistics that they gathered from veterinarians throughout California to provide a perspective of how much money veterinarians in California are earning, benefits received, and what factors seem to affect the amount of money veterinarians earn.

You can see the report here: http://www.cvma.net/userfiles/uploads/CVMAEconomicIssuesSurveyReport.pdf

Given that today is match day for those applying to internships and residencies, I felt it appropriate to point out that the median salaries of those who are internship trained versus non-internship trained were no different. A residency will, however, increase one’s earning potential.

The key findings according to the study are:

  • Most veterinarians are working 41-50 hours/week, and nearly all report working as many or more hours than they want.
  • Job satisfaction among veterinarians is high (87%).
  • A majority say there are not enough jobs for veterinarians in California, but almost as many agree that it is difficult to find qualified applicants when hiring.
  • 43% of respondents currently have educational debt; among recent graduates, over half are more than $100k in debt.
  • Nearly all owners are glad that they became practice owners, though 60% report increasing competition over the past 2 years.
  • 44% of associates are interested in owning a practice. The most commonly cited reasons for not wanting to own were not wanting to deal with finances and not wanting to manage people.
  • 42% of owners say they are in direct competition with a large veterinary corporation, and a majority of veterinarians have an unfavorable view of large veterinary corporations.
  • Median salary is $90,000 among associates, $125,000 among owners.
  • There is a gender gap in veterinary salaries. Even when controlling for factors such as experience, practice type, and location, male owners make one third more than female owners. 

Here are some other points that were notable to me as I perused the data:

  • The gender gap mentioned above is pretty stark and exists across the board, regardless of when vets graduated, whether they are practice owners, or whether they are full vs. part time.
  • Despite the fact that the Bay Area is more expensive to live in than the Los Angeles/Orange County area, vets in the Bay Area make less.
  • “46% report hiring at least one veterinarian in the past year, but only 25% say they will hire in the next year.” Granted hiring practices are not always predictable, this doesn’t bode well for 2014 graduates.
  • “Employers look for “work ethic,” “communication skills,” and “enthusiasm” when hiring.”
  • “Word-of-mouth is the most commonly cited way to find new employees.” Never underestimate how small the field of veterinary medicine is! Use your connections to find employment!
  • 35% of practice owners say they are in direct competition with an animal shelter.
  • Almost half of owners plan to sell their practice within the next 10 years. Of those, nearly half would prefer to sell to an in-house associate or partner.
  • 74% of vets indicated that clients with pet insurance are more likely to authorize recommended testing and procedures!
  • Only 62% of vets receive health insurance coverage as an employment benefit.  42% receive dental insurance, 54% receive retirement plan benefits, 26% have disability covered and 22% have life insurance.