Population spikes to fuel veterinary jobs

Population spikes to fuel veterinary jobs

Employment data show healthy jobs markets in southern, western states
Mar 01, 2006

Table 1: Numbers of veterinarians by state
NATIONAL REPORT — Ever since Horace Greeley popularized the advice to go West, prospectors have blazed the frontier. Today, job prospectors follow the population boom West and South, where the country experiences a disproportionate number of fastest-growing states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For almost two decades, Nevada has been the fastest growing state in the country (see Table 3), and it has a lot of company. While most states' population grows less than 1 percent each year, 18 states (including Hawaii) grew between 1 percent and 3.5 percent, and all except Virginia and Delaware were in the South and West. Population growth could precede fertile job markets for veterinary medicine, which U.S. News and World Report called one of "the best jobs to have in 2006."

State employment agencies, Occupational Employment Statistics surveys, employment demographers and the Bureau of Labor Statistics studies show veterinary medicine will grow between 10 percent to 25 percent during the next five years, making it the 91st fastest growing profession through 2012, according to Career InfoNet.

Table 2: Increases in available veterinary jobs, 2002-2012
Veterinary jobs are expected to grow at least 11 percent in 42 states through 2012, with the highest increases in New Jersey, Nevada, Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming (see Table 2).

Currently, California has the most veterinarians with 6,975, followed by Texas (5,198) and Florida (4,219), according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (see Table 1). These three states might be the best places for employment opportunities, too, with estimates of at least 150 job openings each year between now and 2012 (see Table 6).

Employment of veterinarians is expected to rise 10 to 17 percent for all occupations during the 2004-2014 projection period, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. "Despite this average growth, very good job opportunities are expected because the 28 schools of veterinary medicine, even at full capacity, result in a limited number of graduates each year," reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. "As pets are increasingly viewed as a member of the family, pet owners will be more willing to spend on advanced veterinary medical care, creating further demand for veterinarians."

Table 3: Fastest growing states (by percentage)
Prospects are even better for veterinary technicians, who can expect a 44-percent rise in jobs between 2002 and 2012, according to Career InfoNet.

Technician jobs are expected to double by 2012 in New Jersey, and Idaho, Virginia, Nevada, Wyoming and Alabama expect at least 50-percent growth. Demographers predict that about 76,000 veterinary technician jobs will be available in 2012, up from about 52,700 in 2002, making it the 13th fastest growing profession.

Inside, outside the beltway

Table 4: Fastest growing cities
Although roughly 90 percent of graduating veterinarians enter private practice, Washington, Atlanta and cities that house local, state and federal public health agencies promise to welcome new employees as the job outlook for veterinarians remains robust in emerging public health and food production sectors, according to Dr. Andrew Maccabe, associate executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.