Vets looking at ultrasound machine
Headshot of Dave Johnson
Words by:
Dave Johnson — SVP, Growth

The veterinary industry has always been a dynamic field, but recent economic factors have introduced new challenges and opportunities, particularly in the realm of compensation. As we delve into the current state of veterinarian wages, it’s clear that the interplay between rising demand for veterinary services and inflationary pressures is reshaping the financial landscape for veterinary professionals.


A Closer Look at Wages Amidst Rising Demand

The demand for veterinarians has been on an upward trajectory, a trend that has only been accelerated by the increase in pet ownership during the pandemic and exacerbated by veterinarians leaving the industry at a faster rate than they are entering.  This heightened demand has naturally led to a competitive job market, with veterinary practices vying to attract and retain talent. According to a recent report from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there has been a noticeable increase in starting salaries for veterinarians, signaling a shift towards recognizing the value of these essential professionals (AVMA).


Wage Inflation: A Double-Edged Sword

While wages are rising, it’s important to consider the context of inflation. A study published in the National Library of Medicine indicates that from 2021 to 2022, the national average compensation for a full-time associate veterinarian increased by 12%, nearly double the economy-wide inflation rate of 6.8% over the same interval (PMC). This suggests that while veterinarians are seeing larger paychecks, the actual purchasing power of these increases may not be as significant as it appears on the surface.


The Struggle to Keep Up with Inflation

Despite the rise in wages, not all news is positive. The mean veterinarian income has seen a slight decline when accounting for inflation, with the annual inflation rate in the U.S. reaching 6.5% last year. This has led to a situation where overall veterinary incomes haven’t quite caught up to prerecession levels, presenting a complex financial situation for many in the field (AVMA).


The Broader Economic Impact

The inflationary pressures are not just affecting wages but also the operational costs of veterinary practices. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) highlights that the sharp rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is affecting almost every aspect of veterinary practice, from the cost of surgical supplies to medicines and lab tests (AAHA). This has a knock-on effect on the prices charged to pet owners, which in turn can influence the demand for certain services.


Looking Ahead

As we navigate these inflationary times, it’s crucial for veterinary professionals to stay informed and proactive. Understanding the economic trends and their impact on wages and practice operations will be key to making informed decisions for career growth and financial stability.

In conclusion, the veterinary industry is at a crossroads where demand and inflation are driving significant changes in compensation. While the rise in wages is a positive sign, the full picture is nuanced, requiring a careful analysis of the real-term benefits of these increases. As the industry continues to evolve, staying ahead of these trends and incorporating workforce staffing solutions will be essential for the veterinary community.