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States probe pay for DVMs
State survey shows some veterinarians make far below the national average



In a 2010 survey administered by the OVMA, Oregon practice managers made a median wage of $18.42 per hour. Certified veterinary technicians made a median of $15.50 per hour, while non-certified technicians made $12 per hour. Veterinary assistants pulled in a median of $10 per hour, while front-office staff were paid $12 per hour.

Oregon's benefits data was not as detailed, but Day says 74 percent of owners reported offering group medical insurance to employees. Seventy percent of those respondents said their practices paid between 75 percent and 100 percent of the premiums.

A total of 31 practices that responded to the survey offered dental coverage, and the practices paid a median of 50 percent of the premium. Fewer practices offered vision insurance, disability insurance and life insurance. About 70 percent of the Oregon survey respondents say their practices offer retirement benefits and 83 percent say they are reimbursed for continuing education.


The 2007 CoVMA survey combined salary results of veterinary owners and associates. In addition, the compensation survey focused on averages rather than medians.

The average salary of owner and associate veterinarians in Colorado was $74,624 in 2006. DVMs with six to 15 years of experience made the most each year, averaging $87,835. Veterinarians with one to five years of experience made an average of $70,822, while those with 16 or more years of experience made an average of $65,217.

Veterinary office managers in Colorado made $35,000 to $40,000 on average; front-office staff members were paid $20,000 to $25,000; veterinary assistants made $15,000 to $25,000, and veterinary technicians made $25,000 to $29,000.

In 2009, almost 80 percent of veterinary practices were reportedly offering medical insurance, but premium payments dropped from 2007 levels. In the 2009 survey, 41.4 percent of respondents said their practices paid 50 percent to 60 percent of employee medical premiums, but about 25 percent of the practices reportedly paid 100 percent of premiums.

The number of practices offering dental coverage dropped from 78.6 percent in 2007 to 40 percent by 2009. Vision coverage increased, with 41 percent offering the benefit in 2009, according to the survey. Disability insurance was offered by about half of the practices surveyed, life insurance by about 44 percent, profit sharing by almost 38 percent and retirement benefits by more than 60 percent.

A national look at compensation

Veterinary associates across all types of practices reported earning a median of $85,000, according to data collected in 2009 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Companion-animal associates made $73,000 to $85,000, and mixed-animal and equine associates made $73,000.

Nationwide totals for private-practice veterinarians, including owners, were a median of $97,000.

Part-time associates worked an average of 22 hours per week, according to AVMA's data, and were paid a median of $51.39 per hour totaling $58,790 per year. Mixed-animal part-timers made $38.33 per hour and companion-animal-exclusive part-timers reported median wages of $49 per hour.

About 60 percent of private practice associates receive medical insurance, according to AVMA's data, about 26 percent receive dental insurance; 23 percent, disability insurance; 67 percent, liability insurance; and 17 percent, life insurance. Payment of association dues and continuing education expenses are offered to 80.6 percent and 85.8 percent of associates, respectively. Almost 74 percent receive paid vacation, but only 41 percent receive paid sick leave, according to AVMA. Fewer than 40 percent of associates are offered retirement benefits, 11 percent, pensions; and 12 percent, profit-sharing plans.

Although AVMA does not collect its own state information, it does provide regional figures. According to the 2009 study, companion-animal-exclusive veterinarians in the Northeast make the most, with an average income of $130,550 compared to $127,667 in the South, $109,786 in the Midwest and $129,604 in the Western United States. Food-animal-exclusive veterinarians in the West reported the highest incomes, with a mean of $176,255 compared to $127,756 in the Midwest, $119,802 in the South and $98,611 in the Northeast.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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