Demand for animal protein in U.S. markets is ensuring a robust demand for large animal veterinarians.

That conclusion was among the findings of an American Veterinary Medical Association report on veterinary employment released last week, the second in AVMA’s series of 2015 Veterinary Economic Reports.

Veterinarians practicing in the food animal sector should see their annual salaries increase steadily from about $80,000 in 2020 to just more than $87,000 in 2024, the report predicted.

The results should quiet some critics calling for a reduction in the veterinarian workforce.

“We maintain that no such reduction is necessary based on marketplace analyses,” AVMA said in the report.

The total unemployment rate in veterinary medicine was 3.19 percent, the report indicated. Veterinarians with exclusive or predominant food-animal practice reported 100 percent employment. Equine practitioners reported the highest unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

“Demand does indeed exceed supply in veterinary education, where those applying for veterinary school outnumber available seats and where the number of veterinarians entering the workforce is equal to the number of seats that were available four years prior,” the report said.

The report is based on information gathered in a March 2014 survey of nearly 2,000 veterinarians who had graduated from a U.S. veterinary college one, five, 10 and 25 years prior.

Veterinarians generally are satisfied with their current employment, according to the survey.

“An analysis of the respondents to both the 2014 AVMA Employment Survey and the 2014 AVMA Compensation Survey found a large and statistically significant relationship between income and job satisfaction,” the report said. “Generally, the majority of respondents were at least somewhat satisfied with their current employment, while the largest number of respondents indicated they were satisfied; the next largest group was those indicating they were very satisfied with their current employment.”

The clear relationship between the level of income and job satisfaction is noteworthy, AVMA said.

“This is important, especially to pre-veterinary and veterinary students and new veterinarians who may harbor the belief that compensation is unimportant as long as they are ‘doing what they love to do.’ While this data certainly suggests that outlook may be true for some, generally this is not the case,” AVMA said in the report.

Other salary findings in the report estimated:

  • The mean starting salaries for mixed-practice veterinarians will steadily increase to roughly $78,000 in 2020 to more than $86,000 in 2024.
  • In the equine field, starting salaries will increase steadily to roughly $48,000 in 2020 to around $52,000 in 2024.
  • In uniformed services, starting salaries will steadily increase to roughly $77,000 in 2020 to about $81,000 in 2024.

“Our 2015 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians attempts to detail and explain the current market based on the latest data and information from a variety of sources,” Michael Dicks, AVMA economics director, said. “… We also explore such topics as compensation, the supply of labor, veterinarians’ satisfaction with their current employment and what the future may hold in terms of the market for veterinarians.”

The 2015 AVMA Report on Veterinary Employment can be purchased online from the AVMA Store as part of the six-installment series, and free summaries of the first two published reports also are available. The price for the series is $249 for AVMA members and $499 for nonmembers. The four other reports will be available upon publication. The reports and their scheduled publication dates are:

  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets (January)
  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Employment (March)
  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Debt and Income (April)
  • The AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinarians (May)
  • The AVMA Report on Veterinary Capacity (July)
  • The AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Education (September)