ALACHUA, FL– The 2023 Compensation & Benefits Survey Report is a member service provided by the Veterinary Hospital Management Association (VHMA). The biannual survey examines the level of compensation and benefits provided to veterinary team members and the factors that can impact those levels. The series focuses on managers, non-DVM staff, and associate veterinarians. This executive summary provides highlights from the associate veterinarian report.
The survey was designed to examine the compensation and benefits provided to associate (non-owner) veterinarians in 2023.
About the 2023 Associate Veterinarian Survey
The survey was distributed to 4,163 VHMA and Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS) members, and a total of 470 completed questionnaires were returned for a response rate of 11.2%. The vast majority of the responses (99%) were from the United States, and 1% were from Canada.
In 2023, full-time associates earned a median annual compensation of $125,000 and worked a median of 1,693 hours annually. Compensation increased by 4%, and annual hours worked decreased by 7.1% from 2021. Part-time associate veterinarians, defined as employees who work less than 1,000 hours a year and approximately 20 hours per week, worked a median of 846 annual hours and received a median annual compensation of $97,500. Data from 2021 was not available for part-time associates.
Compensation by type of practice revealed that full-time associate veterinarians in emergency and specialty practices earned the highest salary of all groups surveyed. Associate veterinarians working in exclusively small animal practices reported the lowest annual salary for all full-time groups surveyed.
As experience increased for full-time associate veterinarians, annual compensation generally increased, with the highest earnings reported by those with more than ten years in practice. Part-time associate veterinarians with one to two years of experience received a higher annual salary than those with more than 10 years of experience.
For associate veterinarians working in exclusively small animal practices, compensation increased substantially after the first year of employment, then steadily increased for associates with more than ten years of experience. The highest reported annual hours worked were for associates with one to two years of experience in mixed animal practices. Associate veterinarians working in mixed animal practices with less than ten years of experience observed the highest annual salary.
Median annual compensation tended to increase along with years at thier current location, reaching a peak for those who had been in the same location for greater than ten years. Part-time associates with one to two years at their current practice observed the highest annual median compensation of part-time groups surveyed.
Associates working at exclusively small animal practices earned the same amount with less than one year at the location as they did with one to two years at the current location. However, associates with one to two years at their current location worked significantly less hours than those who have been at the location for less than a year. Exclusively small animal practice associates with more than ten years at their current location earned slightly lower salaries than those with six to ten years, but worked significantly fewer hours and earned a higher hourly compensation. Associates working at mixed animal practices earned the highest median annual compensation.
Respondents were asked to indicate if they assisted in hospital management. When asked which management responsibilities they were taking on, the predominant response was ""hospital director"." The full-time associates who were involved in practice management earned 16.6% more than those who were not involved in hospital management. Part-time associates who were involved in hospital management worked an increased number of hours but earned 21% more in annual compensation.
Method of compensation was split up into five categories: hourly, annual base salary, annual base salary plus profit sharing, percentage of gross billings, and percentage of gross billings plus base salary. Full-time associates compensated through a percentage of annual base salary and profit sharing earned the highest median compensation. Full-time associates compensated through only annual base salary earned the lowest median compensation.
Observing hours worked and calculated hourly wage stratified by both type of practice and the method of compensation received, associate veterinarians working in feline-only animal practices compensated through a percentage of gross billings plus base salary earned the highest median annual compensation. Associates working in mixed animal practices paid through a percentage of gross billings and base salary earned the lowest median annual compensation.
When evaluating weeks of vacation by practice type, full-time associates working in emergency and specialty practices received the highest median of vacation time at four weeks. The only part-time associates included in the data were those employed at exclusively small animal practices, and they reported a median of three weeks of vacation time. Full-time associates working at mixed animal and emergency practices received the lowest median vacation time at two weeks.
Vacation by years at the same location, as well as restrictions on the use of vacation time was also reported.
Respondents weighed in on an extensive list of benefits, painting a detailed picture of employer-provided benefits.
Respondents working in full-time positions indicated whether or not they had on-call responsibilities in their position. Associates working in equine-only practices recorded the highest number of respondents required and were compensated for on-call at 88%. 45% of those working in mixed animal practices were required to be on-call, but only 31% reported being compensated for being on-call. 14% working in exclusively small animal practices reported being required and compensated for on-call.
Relief Veterinarian Wage Rates
By definition, a relief veterinarian is one who temporarily fills in for a veterinarian during vacation, maternity leave, or illness. The arrangement is short-term and should not be confused with permanent part-time positions. Information for relief veterinarians comes from the 2023 VHMA Survey of Non-DVM Wages and Benefits, where managers were asked to record the current rate of relief veterinarians in their practice.
Relief veterinarians working in both exclusively small animal and mixed animal practices reported a median relief hourly rate of $100, a rate higher than that of associate veterinarians within the same practice. Associates working in exclusively small animal practices received a $86.24 hourly rate, while associates working in mixed animal practices reported a $70.92 hourly wage.
About the Survey
The Compensation & Benefits Survey Report is a three-part series. In addition to associate veterinarians, the three-part series includes a survey report on compensation and benefits for managers and non-DVM staff.
The report is free to members of the VHMA. Copies of the report may be purchased by non-members on the VHMA website.
About the VHMA
The VHMA is a nationally recognized thought leader and innovator in providing training, education, and resources to more than 4,800 members and a trusted resource that the veterinary sector relies on for industry insights, research, and advocacy to assure performance at the highest levels. VHMA's core purpose is to advance and support veterinary practice management professionals by developing professional competence, supporting and encouraging standards through the industry's highest-level certification program, the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM), and providing individuals with a network for professional connection and support. Learn more at www.VHMA.org.