For the first time in 17 years, veterinarian salaries are trending up while debt is trending down. The mean debt-to-income ratio for new veterinarians is the lowest it’s been since 2005 at 1.4:1.
Mean educational debt was down to $147,258, and the mean starting salary for full-time veterinarians, not just those practicing equine vet med, was $111,242.
dr Bridgette Bain, a senior economist and associate director of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Veterinary Economics Division, discussed some of the results of this year’s AVMA Senior Survey.
Bain reported that in 2022, the mean starting salary was $114,027 for vets in private practice and $87,862 for those in public practice. Vets in advanced education (other than residencies and internships) made $53,987, while $48,193 was paid for residencies and $43,931 for internships.
This year, 43 percent of graduating vets went into corporate practice; they had a mean starting salary of $124,686, compared with the $105,637 salary of vets at independent practices. Graduates who went to work for a corporate-owned practice had $157,810 in mean educational debt, compared with $147,472 for new graduates who went to work for a private, independently owned hospital or clinic.
Corporate practices provided a signing bonus to 81 percent of new-graduate offers, at a mean of $27,181, while only 42 percent of offers made by independent practices had a signing bonus, at a mean of $10,678. Corporate practices also provided moving grants more often, in 48 percent of offers, at a mean of $6,180. Just 23 percent of the offers made by independent practices included a moving allowance, at a mean of $3,626.
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Between 2018 and 2022, at least 45 percent of new graduates from US veterinary colleges joined companion animal practices; in 2022, 48 percent of new graduates went into companion animal medicine.
The percentage of vets entering mixed animal, food animal and equine practice have been fairly flat since 2013. In 2022, 8.9 percent of vets went into mixed animal practice, 3.2 percent went into food animal practice, and 1.5 percent went into equine practice.
The debt loads of new vets varied: 25 percent of new graduates had $200,000 or more of debt from earning their veterinary degree, while 13 percent had $300,000 or more of debt. Another 18 percent had no debt, while 10 percent had debt of less than $100,000, and the majority – at 34 percent — had debt loads of $100,000 to $200,000.
Mean debt broken down by ethnicity was as follows:
- Black or African American graduates had $188,820 in mean debt
- Hispanic or Latino graduates had $183,596 in mean debt
- White graduates had $146,213 in mean debt
- Asian graduates had $107,399 in mean debt
Scholarships, grants and personal savings covered up to a quarter of tuition for 93 percent of graduates. Educational loans covered more than three-quarters of tuition for 49 percent of graduates. From 2020 to 2022, the percentage of tuition covered by families increased from 25 percent to 28 percent. The percentage of tuition covered by loans decreased in the same timeframe from 60 percent to 55 percent.
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