Starting salaries for veterinarians trend lower, educational debt continues to climb


Starting salaries for veterinarians entering the profession declined last year, but educational debt is rising.

Schaumburg, Ill.

-- Starting salaries for veterinarians entering the profession declined last year, but their educational debt rose another 6.5 percent, according to new data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The most recent survey data reports a 3.5 percent drop in the average starting salary for veterinarians entering the market for the first time. The average full-time starting salary for 2011 was $46,971. Conversely, average educational debt hit $142,613, which ranks as a 6.5 percent increase from 2010. The most recent data was from AVMA's annual survey of fourth-year veterinary students from the 28 veterinary colleges in the United States.

"Excluding graduates entering advanced education, average salaries were down by 1.3 percent from 2010," the association asserts. "At the time of this year's survey, 74.3 percent of the students said they had received at least one job offer or offer for advanced education, which is down from 2010, when 78.9 percent had received offers and 2009 when 79.5 percent had received offers," the association reports.

"This decline in job opportunities for veterinary school graduates is a persistent problem," contends Dr. René A. Carlson, AVMA president. "In 2008, fourth-year veterinary students had received 2.5 job offers on average at the time of the survey, but in this year's class that has dropped to an average of 1.6 job offers," she says. "Unfortunately, the cost of achieving a veterinary medical degree continues to rise while compensation for that investment and hard work has fallen."

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