The 2007 Member Needs Assessment, conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), surveyed members regarding job satisfaction and happiness. That data was then compared to existing job satisfaction data taken from a study published by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago in 2007. That comparison revealed that veterinarians have a very high level of job satisfaction (3.55), just behind clergy (3.79), teachers (3.61) and psychologists (3.59), but above physicians (3.47) and lawyers (3.33). The average rating in the NORC study for all jobs was 3.30, based on a four-point scale.
The AVMA study also revealed that food-animal veterinarians have the highest job satisfaction (3.69). In fact, when compared with the rankings in the NORC study, farm veterinarians ranked third in job satisfaction, just below the clergy and physical therapists, while companion-animal veterinarians scored a 3.52 job satisfaction rating.
At 2.30 veterinarians are happier than most people, but not happier than lawyers (2.37) and physicians (2.39). Average happiness for all jobs on the NORC study was 2.23, based on a three-point scale.
AVMA research also shows very few veterinarians choose to leave the profession. The AVMA, which represents 85 percent of all U.S. veterinarians, conducts exit surveys for members who decide not to continue as part of the Association. For the veterinarians who tell the association why they're leaving, the most common reason cited is retirement-22.6 percent in 2008. The least common reason, "No longer employed in a field of veterinary medicine," drew only 6.1 percent of the comments.
Good vibes for the veterinary profession have been on the rise in recent years, according to surveys by Veterinary Economics in 2005 and 2008. Veterinarians who said they were happy with their job rose from 35 percent to 44 percent in the three years between surveys.