by Dr Holly Anne Hills MRCVS
*These figures are suggestive of average veterinary earnings in the UK as of 2022 and will be open to market fluctuations*
There is a common misconception among the public that vets are very well-off individuals, when in fact this is generally not the case, and vets tend to earn considerably less than our human medicine counterparts. Money is something that is not always published in job adverts, and it is often not discussed enough in the profession. So, what exactly can you expect to earn on average as a vet at different stages throughout your career?
What is the average starting salary for a new graduate vet?
As a rule, most newly qualified vets earn a very similar salary, although there is some variation depending on whether you work for a private clinic or as part of a large corporate. On average, a newly qualified vet will be offered a salary somewhere between £28,000 and £32,000 per annum. And this will nearly always increase after a year of service, sometimes sooner.
Generally, corporates will offer slightly higher salaries, as well as other more generous benefits compared to private practice, although this is not always the case and many private clinics now offer the same remuneration packages as corporates to attract applicants. There can also be a bit of variation in salary depending on where in the country you work – for example, clinics in London might offer a higher salary to account for the high cost of living in the city.
How much will I earn as I progress throughout my career?
As you progress throughout your career and gain experience or even further qualifications, your salary will change to reflect this. Most practices have a structured pay scale and annual pay reviews, which helps employees and potential job applicants to see how their salary will increase over time and what they can do to increase the value they offer to their practice.
Depending on the location, type, and size of the clinic and corporate vs private, a vet who has been qualified for 5 years might earn on average £40-45k per annum, whilst a vet with 10 years’ experience or more could earn on average £50-60k per annum.
However, there are no real hard and fast rules or patterns to follow when it comes to estimating what you might earn, as it will vary greatly between individual clinics. Also, a vet who has undertaken further training or qualifications might be offered a higher salary compared to a vet who qualified the same year, as those additional skills and knowledge are of higher value to the clinic and offer more financial returns to the business.
As a rule, vet salaries tend to increase well each year until you have been qualified for around 5-10 years. At this point, salaries tend to plateau unless you undertake further clinical training.
What other financial benefits do vets get?
A vet’s salary will not only consist of a basic wage, but will also be complemented by a workplace pension, some professional fees, and a CPD allowance.
It is commonplace for employers to pay your VDS insurance fees, and the majority of practices will also pay your RCVS membership fees annually, although many do ask that you pay this yourself out of your wages.
A CPD budget is provided to every vet to allow them to undertake any learning they choose. On average most employers offer £1000-£1500. This money is not given to you directly but is used to pay for any training courses, workshops, or lectures you attend. Often employers will also help you to pay for transport and accommodation whilst you are on CPD. If a vet wishes to obtain a certificate or further qualification, many practices will fully or partially fund this, although in return they usually expect you to commit to working for them for several years after completion.
Some vet salary packages will also include benefits such as a car allowance and fuel expenses (commonplace in large animal practice or clinics with several branches), healthcare, and corporate discounts on gym/sports memberships.
Internships, residencies, and further study
If you choose to undertake an internship and residency to become a specialist, you will need to expect a pay cut! While after you become a specialist your salary will be higher than in general practice, you will be earning less during your training.
Internships and residencies pay something known as a ‘stipend’ – this is a set amount of money paid to you to cover your basic living costs while in education or educational research, such as internships and post-graduate courses. This stipend is tax-free, and as an intern or resident, you will also be offered accommodation which is usually shared with the other training staff. On average, for a veterinary internship or residency, you can expect to earn between £16k and £25k.
How much do vets earn in non-clinical roles?
When we talk about vet salaries, we often only consider those relevant to working in clinical practice. But vets can also work in a range of non-clinical roles such as for nutrition or pharmaceutical companies. Generally, these large businesses can offer higher salaries than veterinary clinics. Many vets choose these roles for their attractive remuneration packages, which can be anywhere from £50k per annum upwards, depending on your experience and qualifications. Often these roles also come with other attractive and generous financial benefits, including bonuses and private healthcare.
Salaries will always vary depending on several factors including the number of years you have been qualified, and any further qualifications you hold, as well as the region, type, and size of the clinic. It is always important to know roughly what you will earn at different stages throughout your career, especially when starting out, or when looking for a new role, to ensure you are being offered an appropriate package.
There is very little data or information available to provide accurate estimates of vet salaries dependent on the number of years qualified, or any other factors. However, some small pools of data do exist through the SPVS salary survey, the results of which are published and available to members each year.