Job offers down at graduation, but veterinary market still growing


Large number of veterinary graduates still seeking more education rather than employment

National report — While the veterinary job market is holding steady, the number of graduates finding jobs — and getting multiple offers before graduation — has declined, according to information from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Between 2003 and 2008, 90 percent of graduates received at least one job offer before graduation. That number fell to 79.5 percent in 2009. Those receiving three or four job offers fell from 17 to 20 percent seven years ago to 9.7 percent last year. Data from 2010 was not yet available.

Despite those statistics, the job market for veterinarians is actually growing more steadily than other professions, according to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As of 2008, 59,700 veterinarians were employed in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that number will grow to 79,400 by 2018, a 33 percent increase.

According to the most recent statistics from the AVMA, 52.4 percent of the 1,525 graduates who responded to a study joined a private clinical practice after graduation. More than one-third of the respondents (35.2 percent) reported were going to work in companion-animal practice. The rest of the graduates entering the profession and choosing private practice were split between horses (4 percent); food animals (3.6 percent) and mixed practice (9.6 percent).

Almost half of the graduates — 43.5 percent — went on to further their education, according to the statistics.

The remaining 4.1 percent were employed at a college or university, joined the uniformed services, worked for the federal/state/local government, worked in industry or commercial businesses or joined a not-for-profit organization.

As for salaries, more than half — 51.6 percent — made between $55,000 and $70,999 as a starting salary for a full-time position.

Those working with food animals exclusively made slightly more at $72,318, the research said. Their counterparts — those working with companion animals exclusively — made a starting salary of $69,154, while those working only with horses earned the lowest starting salary at $37,854.

While some report a tougher job market these days due to a sluggish recovery, others saw no difference.

"It is probably safe to say that it is harder to find employment in the post 2008 economy," says Dr. Laura Molgaard, associate dean at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Molgaard cited trends from a survey conducted by the school.

Out of the 83 graduates this year, 35 accepted a job offer prior to graduation and 48 had not. In 2009, 27 had jobs lined up before graduation and 42 did not. But in 2008, 65 graduates had jobs prior to graduation and only 33 did not.

Across the country, Dr. Thomas Vickroy, interim associate dean for students and instruction in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida (UF), believes the job market is stronger this year.

With 89 DVM graduates in the class of 2010, Vickroy says 88 of them had jobs lined up prior to graduation.

"At the time of graduation, only one had not yet committed to a position, lthough I believe that individual had several offers under consideration," he adds.

Last year at UF, six to eight graduates were still seeking full-time positions at graduation time, Vickroy recalls.

As for the future, 6,143 people applied to one of the 57 locations affiliated with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). The average applicant turned in 3.81 applications for a total of 23,422 applications, according to the AAVMC.

AAVMC, an international association, represents 28 U.S. veterinary medical colleges, four Canadian veterinary colleges, nine U.S. departments of veterinary science, seven U.S. departments of comparative medicine, three veterinary medical education institutions and six international veterinary schools. That adds up to more than 4,000 faculty and 5,000 staff members, 10,000 veterinary students and 3,000 graduate students.

Almost half of those who applied to veterinary school — 47.21 percent — were between the ages of 21 and 22. According to the AAVMC, 8.74 percent were ages 20 and under, while 38.12 percent were between the ages of 23 and 30. Only 2.6 percent were between 31 and 35.

Of the total applicants in 2010, most — 76.23 percent — were female.

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