Veterinary Salary Estimator for Current Students FAQ

Q: What is the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Current Students?

A: The estimator is a predictive tool for veterinary students that can be used to help you address a wide range of decisions regarding your career path. It provides ranges of salaries for specific employment scenarios for veterinarians seeking their first job, based on historical data. Fourth-year veterinary students can use this along with other information sources to inform their first salary negotiations, as well as to make decisions regarding internships, post-graduate education and other options. Because it is based on historical data, it is not a tool indication "what should be" but, rather, "what has been." First through third year students can use this tool to get an idea of potential salary ranges as they consider budgeting post-graduation.

Q: Who should use the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Current Students?

A: This estimator is specifically designed for veterinary students, particularly fourth-year students. If you are a veterinarian with one to six years of work experience, you must use the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Early Career Veterinarians.

Q: How should the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Current Students be used?

A: Veterinary students (zero years of experience in the workforce as a veterinarian) should use this estimator as one piece of information in their overall strategy for career management and negotiating salaries. The estimator is designed to encourage you to think about the choices and factors that impact potential salaries, based on data collected from previous graduates. We encourage you to run multiple scenarios to see how various factors have historically influenced salary. Rather than accepting the results of any scenario at face value, use the estimator as part of your individual strategy to advocate for yourself during the salary negotiation process or to help guide your career decisions.

Q: Am I guaranteed to get a salary that is within the range shown?

A: No. This estimator is a predictive tool that provides salary ranges based on historic trends. The results of this estimator are a reference based on trends. They are not intended to be used as recommendations or suggestions for a specific individual’s salary.

Q: What’s the source of the data used to develop the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Current Students?

A: The estimator is based on data collected from the AVMA Senior Survey, which has been compiled over the past 17 years (2001-2017). The AVMA Senior Survey is conducted each year and collects information from soon-to-be-graduating veterinarians at U.S. veterinary colleges. The statistically significant factors used in this estimator from the AVMA Senior Survey are year of graduation, age, entry into a post-DVM/VMD educational program, entry into private practice vs. public practice, species focus, geographic location of the practice, student debt load and hours worked per week.

Q: Why is age included?

A: Age has been found to be a statistically significant variable that historically has affected starting salaries for new graduates and is therefore included. If you are concerned about age bias, we encourage you to run the estimator with several different age scenarios to explore potential bias and determine how to use this information in developing your salary negotiation strategy.

Q: Why is the veterinary school attended not included as a variable?

A: The veterinary school attended has not been a statistically significant factor in predicting salaries. There is no evidence in our data that school of graduation is correlated to statistically significant differences in starting salary.

Q: Why do you ask about additional post-DVM/VMD education?

A: For veterinary students, the estimator produces a lower salary range for those pursuing post-DVM/VMD education. This adjustment is based on the AVMA Senior Survey data, which shows that starting salaries (or stipends) for those enrolling in advanced education after veterinary school are not, on average, comparable with those in private or public practice. This applies specifically to the salary for a graduate who is pursuing post-graduate education, NOT the salary you might expect to receive upon completing that education. The AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Early Career Veterinarians indicates a higher salary range for many veterinarians who have completed their post-DVM/VMD education programs.

Q: Why do you ask about geographic location (ZIP code)?

A: Regardless of your profession, the area of the country in which you work has an effect on your salary. A primary factor influencing this variable is the cost of living in that geographical area.

Q: Why does species focus affect salary results?

A: Data from the AVMA Senior Survey does indicate that salaries are impacted by the species focus of the clinical practice and it has therefore been included in the tool. The AVMA is not passing judgment on the suitability, future career opportunities or earning potential for any given species focus. If you are interested in pursuing a specific career opportunity, it is important to have an idea of salary ranges for budgeting and planning purposes post-graduation. In some cases, salaries can increase with years of work experience. For salaries of veterinarians currently working in various species of interest with one to six years of experience, please see the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Early Career Veterinarians tool.

Q: How does the number of hours expected to work in week influence salary results?

A: For fourth-year veterinary students, there is a negative correlation between the number of work hours and salary. We agree that this seems counterintuitive. Our research so far shows that for veterinarians already in practice, the trend is what you’d expect: increased hours are associated with higher salaries (check out the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Early Career Veterinarians to see it for yourself).

This means that the data used in this estimator (compiled from the AVMA Senior Student Survey) shows there’s something else going on that is potentially masking another not-yet-identified variable (e.g., practice setting, number of doctors in practice). It could also be a reflection that veterinary students who are anticipating longer working hours tend to get paid less overall. The best example of this are intern hours with the average intern working about 10 hours more per week than those in full time positions in spite of significantly lower pay. If you are not sure of your anticipated hours, we recommend using 40 hours per week.

Q: What does student debt load have to do with salary?

A: Student debt load was found to be a statistically significant factor impacting starting salary for veterinary students, so it has been included in the AVMA Veterinary Salary Estimator for Current Students. By including debt load, the AVMA is not implying that it’s the employer’s responsibility to compensate for debt incurred by a potential employee. We’re also not saying that students should rack up more debt because they’ll make higher salaries. While we don’t fully understand how debt load is related to starting salaries, some theories include the speculation that students with higher debt negotiate more aggressively or accept higher offers to have a manageable lifestyle while repaying debt.