True confession: Managers love their jobs, but many are curious about how their salary and benefits compare to other practice
managers. The VHMA's 2013 Compensation and Benefits Survey reveals which factors impact earnings.
The tough truth about salaries
Salaries generally reflect the strength of the economy. When the economy is robust, salaries tend to be higher. Because the
economy is recovering slower than anticipated, the survey results reveal that the veterinary economy is struggling, and salaries
reflect the struggle. Lower salaries are reported among managers and administrators in the industry, regardless of seniority
and experience. Although office managers registered a 7% salary increase since 2011, the average practice manager's salary
has plummeted by 6%, and hospital administrators' salaries have decreased by 4% during that same period.
How managers are paid
The news is not all discouraging. The results also reveal that there are opportunities for managers and administrators to
increase their compensation. For example, the 2013 survey clearly shows that becoming a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager
(CVPM) improves compensation. Managers with a CVPM earned $2,500 more each year and administrators earned $4,000 more per
year. Post-graduate degrees also drove salaries higher. Employees who shared in the financial risk of a practice reported
higher salaries; managers who received a profit share in addition to their salary received between $5,000 and $10,000 more
The type of practice a manager is affiliated with can also impact compensation. Practice managers working in emergency practices
earned the highest salaries but worked the longest hours. Of all hospital administrators who responded to the survey, the
4% who worked in specialty practices reported the highest average salary. Hospital administrators managing more than one hospital
reported a 25% increase in salary. Small animal hospital administrators worked the fewest hours but, in general, earned the
Seniority is a weak driver of salary. And, in many cases, salaries trended lower as seniority among managers and administrators
The issue with benefits
Office managers received an average of two weeks paid vacation each year. And practice managers and administrators received
an average of three weeks.
Hospital administrators received more comprehensive benefits; office managers were likely to receive the weakest benefits.
Continuing education and veterinary product discounts are benefits enjoyed by all managers. Hospital administrators are most
likely to receive health insurance. The median co-payment for health insurance among all managers runs between 78% and 90%.
Since the last VHMA survey in 2011, veterinary managers and administrators have experienced a decline in salaries. Traditionally,
seniority and experience have resulted in higher salaries but the survey results indicated that these factors do not guarantee
higher salaries. Managers committed to earning higher salaries would benefit from enrolling in certification or advanced degree
programs or negotiating a profit sharing arrangement with their employer.
http://https://dvm360.com/VHMA for an overview of job responsibilities by title for office managers, practice managers and hospital administrators in veterinary
practice. You'll also find the 2013 Compensation and Benefits Survey methodology and more data that outlines how credentials
change what you make.
Christine Shupe, CAE, is the executive director of the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. The association is dedicated
to serving professionals in veterinary management through education, certification and networking.