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AVMA survey reveals bleak situation for new veterinary graduates


Findings indicate that starting salaries, job offers dwindling while average student debt load grows.

Each year, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) conducts a survey of graduating veterinary students, and this year, the results are far from promising.

At the time the survey was taken (before graduation and before many students have accepted jobs or advanced education positions, such as internships), 61.5 percent of veterinary students had received a job offer or an offer to pursue advanced education, a substantial drop from 74.3 percent in 2011 and 78.9 percent in 2010. However, the average number of job offers fourth-year students received remained the same over the last few years—1.6 in both 2012 and 2011.

The average starting salary for all students this year—including those pursuing advanced education—was $45,575, a 3 percent drop from 2011 when the average starting salary was $46,971. Removing students pursuing advanced education from the results, the average starting salary this year was $65,404. In 2011, that average salary was $66,469, 1.6 percent higher.

In terms of the debt load most of these students are facing upon graduating, the news isn’t any better. The average student debt for the 89.2 percent of veterinary students who expect to graduate with a loan burden was $151,672, 6.4 percent higher than it was in 2011 at $142,613. The remaining 10.8 percent of students surveyed did not anticipate graduating with debt.

“We are concerned that we are beginning to see trends in both the number of jobs offered and starting salaries,” says AVMA President Doug Aspros, DVM. “The economy may certainly be at play here, and this may be a temporary reflection of the country’s overall employment picture. But it is troubling that graduates are receiving fewer job offers and that compensation is not keeping pace with the cost of attaining a veterinary degree.”

The AVMA is actively working with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, veterinary school faculty, and state and federal governments to remedy this situation and make the loan burden more manageable for graduating students.

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