Salaries, offers down for 2011 vet grads

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In its annual survey of graduating veterinary students, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has found that recent graduates from veterinary schools are getting fewer job offers and earning less in their first year of practice.

In cooperation with the 28 U.S. veterinary schools and colleges, the AVMA conducts an annual survey of all fourth-year veterinary students in the United States.  At the time of this year’s survey, 74.3% of the students said they had received at least one job offer or offer for advanced education, which is down from 2010, when 78.9% had received offers and 2009 when 79.5% had received offers.

The average full-time starting salary for 2011 was $46,971, which was down 3.5% from 2010. Excluding graduates entering advanced education; average salaries were down by 1.3% from 2010. 

 “This decline in job opportunities for veterinary school graduates is a persistent problem.  In 2008, fourth-year veterinary students had received 2.5 job offers on average at the time of the survey, but in this year’s class that has dropped to an average of 1.6 job offers,” explains Dr. René A. Carlson, AVMA president. “Unfortunately, the cost of achieving a veterinary medical degree continues to rise while compensation for that investment and hard work has fallen.”

The study showed that the average student debt for a graduate of a veterinary school increased this year from last.  This year the average debt for students with debt was $142,613, a 6.5% increase from 2010.

“The AVMA is taking serious steps to improve the economic status of the profession so we will continue to attract the best and the brightest to a profession that is so important to the protection of animals and society,” Carlson says.

“The Council on Education conducts accreditation visits at a number of veterinary schools and colleges every year, and we look at employment statistics up to a year after graduation.  I know that they remain very high,” said Dr. David Granstrom, AVMA Education and Research Division director. “Hopefully, employment statistics will remain high for this year’s graduates as well.”

Read a report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association with more information from this survey. For more information on the AVMA or veterinary medicine, visit


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