Schaumburg, Ill. — In most cases, veterinary incomes have been increasing at an average annual rate of 6 percent since 1997, according to
the AVMA's Report on Veterinary Compensation released in late November.
Table 1: 2007 mean professional income of private practice owners and associates
Over the 10-year period from 1997 to 2007, incomes for owners went up $66,000 and incomes for associates went up $39,000.
In 1997, owners earned $80,841 compared to $146,374 in 2007. Associates earned $50,333 in 1997 and $89,694 in 2007.
The AVMA credits rising incomes to increased economic viability and attractiveness to future veterinarians.
"We've probably corrected for what had historically been an under-compensation of vets," says Jim Flanigan, AVMA's director
Table 2: Mean professional income of private practice owners and associates 1997-2007 Trends in real (1997 dollars)
The gender gap
While incomes are increasing, female veterinarians continue to earn less than their male counterparts.
The trend is a national phenomenom.
According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 77.8 cents. In the veterinary
profession, that disparity is even greater.
Females in private veterinary practice earn 66 percent of what men do.
"It's a very complex problem," Flanigan says.
"In some cases, we did see it closing, in some cases we didn't," he says.
In private practice, the average annual growth rate of salaries is 6.5 percent for men and 6.8 percent for women.
The only practice types that bucked the trend of men having a higher annual growth rate were companion-animal exclusive and
equine practitioners. Women in companion-animal exclusive practice saw a growth rate of 6.4 percent from 2005 to 2007, compared
to 3.8 percent for men.
Women in equine practices saw a 5.4 growth rate compared to 2.3 percent for men.
"That 34 percent gap is consistent among all practice types," Flanigan says. "Women are making at least one-third less than
men. Two key factors contribute to veterinary income — ownership status and years of experience."
The average salary of a male owner is $158,910, while the average salary of a female owner is $115,768, or 27 percent less.
Male associates are earning $102,672 compared to female associates who bring in $83,106, or 19.1 percent less.
Consider this: While the wage gap increases with level of experience, starting salaries are much closer.
Males in companion-animal-exclusive practice started out earning $66,266 in 2008, compared to females who started at $64,318.
"In terms of associate numbers, the nature of that segment of practice naturally weeds out older veterinarians," Flanigan
says. "Owners, on the other hand, can have a very wide range of experience. The mean age of a female associate is less than
the mean age of a male. Even after you compare and take into consideration ownership status and age, the gap still exists."