New salary calculator tool helps students and recent graduates

studentsUpdate: please see our clarification post regarding the gender adjustment and other factors included in the calculator.

Remember what it felt like when you were looking for your first job and had no idea what kind of salary was reasonable to expect?

The AVMA has released a new tool to help veterinary students and new graduates develop a starting point for salary negotiations as they enter the profession.

The New Graduate Salary Calculator worksheet allows users to calculate average starting salaries for different segments of the profession in various locations. It takes into consideration variables such as practice type (private/industry/government/etc.), specialty, plans for continued education, expected work hours, geographic location, debt load, and gender to provide a realistic snapshot of what the average salary would be for each specific situation. The calculator uses the factors that have been shown to be statistically significant predictors of starting salaries for new veterinarians over the past 15 years.

The information can help both new graduates and those approaching graduation to better understand the market for new veterinarians and how to prepare for salary negotiations. Those who are unsure about their early career path can create multiple scenarios and compare the results.

The calculator is currently offered as a PDF, but the AVMA plans to develop a digital version in the future. It is available exclusively to AVMA and SAVMA members, and can be found among the student financial resources at and the recent graduate resources offered on

The new calculator is one of numerous financial tools under development by the AVMA to help guide veterinarians through all stages of their careers.  Already available to both AVMA and SAVMA members is the personal financial planning tool at, which allows veterinarians to plan and track income and expenses in order to save for the future while also paying off debt.

21 thoughts on “New salary calculator tool helps students and recent graduates

    • Even with the clarification note and FAQ, I do not think the tool is appropriate to post with the discounted gender step. There are better ways to highlight the gender wage gap noted in the data, like in an introduction or summary paragraph to the tool. Having the tool direct users to pay men more solely based on their gender is discouraging and inappropriate.

      • Please look at the front page of the calculator. There has always been an introductory paragraph that specifically states that the value calculated is not a recommendation.

  1. I am disappointed that the AVMA decided to publish a tool that appears to recommend that women make less than men, all other conditions being equal. Gender wage gaps are well documented in many professions, and I think that information should be discussed as well as suggestions or ideas on how to improve the situation. If the purpose of including that step was to start a gender discussion, I think their are better platforms to do so, including having a paragraph mentioning the documented gender gap and challenges women may face while negotiating salaries.

    Having the gap included in AVMA’s recommendation/suggestion for starting salaries could be used by employers to justify paying their female employees less. It could also be misinterpreted by a new graduate that they are “worth” less than their male counterparts. I do not think this tool is empowering or useful in its current form and think it should be republished without the gender difference step in the equation.

  2. It would seem the next logical step in the flow chart would be for the ugly woman to subtract another $2400 because we all know the pretty women make more than the ugly women and we wouldn’t want to throw off the calculations.

  3. Context is everything. Presenting this carefully collected data to the membership along with ways we can all address the gender gap in salary would be great.

    The AVMA has put this calculator out there as a tool for new grads to find a starting point for salary negotiations. The fact remains that if a female veterinarian uses this calculation she will have a number $2400 less than an equal male counterpart. A number that by design is meant to help her find a starting point for salary negotiation.

    I fail to see how subtracting $2400 from her starting point is helpful? Why not leave this calculation out and add a note explaining the wage gap that exists between sexes?

    Tammy McNamara DVM

    • Tammy, the New Graduate’s salary calculator sheet that is now on-line was developed as part of a presentation on debt and income that has been presented to veterinary students at various colleges and to SAVMA. The sheet is for “New Graduates” and those close to graduating or trying to decide what type veterinary medicine to practice or where to practice. Those that have been to the presentation will tell you that the income part of the presentation focuses on how the new graduate can generate revenue for the practice and what the value of the calculator means in terms of total production.

      The main reason that this tool is on the web site in an online version was to make the tool available to the students who were unable to receive the laminated new salary calculator sheets. Our student initiatives team has done an excellent job of getting this information to students so that they can begin to think about there own specific debt-to-income situation and the role that income plays in that ratio.

      As I have noted, this tool is a predictive tool (as noted in the introductory box on the sheet) based on historic data and does not give a recommended salary. It provides the mean salary,received by past veterinarians in similar situations, as a guide, not a recommendation for what new grads should request of practice owners.

      Even when taken independent from all other economic reports and publications on the subject of veterinary incomes and the other efforts by AVMA with respect to gender and diversity it is difficult to understand the voracity of indignation being expressed over this single tool. From the perspective of the Economic’s staff , better market information will lead to more efficient markets (salaries more in line with value of output). We have a number of tools in the process to provide better information to Veterinarians. However, if producing these tools (calculators) causes as much angst as the new salary calculator has, then perhaps, as some have suggested, we should end this effort.

      Of course as you have noted, context is everything. But the real discussion here is really whether more information or less is preferred by our AVMA membership. Or is there specific information that is desired while other information is not.

  4. For well over three decades, AVMA has been publishing the mean starting salary for new veterinarians and the gender gap has been well articulated. This gender gap in salary exists for new graduates, associates and practice owners. Some of the gender gap can be explained by type of practice, location of employment and other factors but some cannot. We can explain a great deal of the gender difference but not all.
    In the introduction to the New Salary Calculator the following paragraph exists, “This calculator provides the average starting salary for specific segments of the profession and was developed from data collected from graduating veterinary students through the AVMA Senior Survey. This calculator was developed to provide you a starting point for your own salary negotiation. The calculator is a predictive tool and uses values for gender, practice type, region, hours worked, additional degrees and debt load that were found to be statistically significant predictors of starting salary. The calculator does not provide a guaranteed salary or recommended salary for any individual veterinarian and each veterinarian is responsible for negotiating their starting salary.”
    The calculator sheet has limited space and thus we tried to provide the explanation of and descriptions for the use of the tool as best we could. Apparently not well enough. I have replaced the last sentence with the following, “The calculator provides the mean salary for specific situations based on historical information and does not provide a guaranteed or recommended salary for any veterinarian. Each new graduate is responsible using this tool to determine what factors to consider when negotiating their starting salary.”
    The starting salary calculator was first introduced to the profession in April, 2015 in the Report on Veterinary Income and Debt and in a short piece in the June, 2015 DVM360 Eye on Economics Series. The data is from 2001 to 2015 US veterinary college graduates that provided information about their starting salary. This tool indicates the degree to which statistically significant demographic variables such as gender, type of practice, region, age, hours intended to work and degree or internship sought, have affected starting salary. Again, this is the mean value and there is a large variation in these means.
    The third line of the introductory paragraph suggests that this mean may provide a starting point for salary negotiations and the last sentence was intended to warn against using this salary tool to define a “recommended” salary. One might ask, “why should a female veterinarian start negotiations with a salary $2400 below their male counterpart?” Or, “why should a mixed animal practitioner start negotiations with a salary $4000 below a companion animal practitioner?” Or, “why should a practitioner in mid-America start salary negotiation at a point less than those on the coasts?”
    The new salary calculator is a tool to help inform new veterinarians about the factors that may affect their salary – it does not provide answers as to why those factors affect starting salary. The salary, using nearly 30,000 observations over the last 15 years provides the mean salary for very specific employment opportunities and individual characteristics. Some will make more and some will make less than these mean values. The factors provided explain 71 percent of the variation in that occurs in starting salaries.
    The factors that affect salary have been in place for many years. In most markets, these types of differences would begin to disappear as market participants begin to use them to gain advantage. Higher salaries in one situation would cause more graduates to seek employment in that situation and this would cause those salaries to decline while allowing the salaries in other situations to increase. Perhaps in the future, through the use of this tool, we will see the gender gap disappear. Fortunately, we will have new estimates for the salary calculator each year and you will be able to measure the professions change in the gender factors effect on starting salary.

    • You note that “Higher salaries in one situation would cause more graduates to seek employment in that situation and this would cause those salaries to decline while allowing the salaries in other situations to increase.” I really never thought of being female as being a “situation”, but it does explain a lot. Most of the other “situations” are based on conscious choices we’ve all made (or may make), but for most of us, changing our sex for financial parity is not one of those choices.
      So what was the “gender subtraction” for 2015? Have we seen any change in one year, admittedly a short time and not long enough to determine trends (though AVMA has done other sex gap analyses)? How long before you would expect to see changes, and more importantly when might we see parity?

      • Gail, thanks for those two great questions. First, I used the word situation to define a any set of demographic characteristics and yes gender would be one of those just as age is. We don’t know why there is a gender or age salary difference but there is. If there is no difference in the production by gender and age then there should not be a difference in salary. If there is, we need to understand the source of that difference and bring it to the attention of veterinarians. While we published the calculator last year, it would appear that few saw it or they would likely have responded as they are now. Thus, I suspect that we will find continued gender and age difference in the 2016 starting salaries. I also find it fascinating that no one has commented on the huge difference between new graduate starting salaries of interns and other practitioners. The difference is $35,000. Is there really that much difference in production between an intern and new grad with full time employment?

  5. If addressing gender disparity is an important goal of the AVMA, this is not being reflected in how the AVMA is presenting the issue. The salary calculator has been presented first as a branded AVMA tool to be used in future job negotiations, not as the editor now shares is a discussion point for affecting behaviors of new graduates.

    The issue of gender disparity deserves forthright transparency versus first toying with emotional responses of female constituents and then secondly adding as an afterthought what the AVMA really is doing and believes in response to appropriately outraged comments. Is there any other issue the AVMA believes in so strongly that is shared first to constituents as a response to member comments?

    • Deanna, thank you. The analysis of the factors that affect starting salary was done by the Economics Division for the sole purpose of helping veterinarians understand the importance of the various factors to help new graduates in their job search and career choices. Not including the gender variable will distort the coefficients on all the other factors. In using the tool to teach veterinary students, a group of non economists developed the flow chart to help the students understand how to use it. In a presentation before a group of students the calculator created by the economist and the calculator presented by the non-economist were both presented and the students unanimously liked the non-economist created calculator and flow chart. While the gender issues always comes up, students are quick to note it does not have to be part of the calculation. So you are correct, this tool was not created by the economics division to focus on gender and over the last 2 years of reporting on and using this or the economist tool that has, until now, never has been the focus. What the economics division considers the front page of the calculator is our calculator and you will note that their is a introductory box that explains the tools purpose and use.

  6. I am curious to know if my thought process is correct in the formula taking into account the graduation year. Seems that graduating earlier in the 2000’s reduces your expected starting salary but since I graduated in 1999 I hit the jackpot? Is there some correction for before the turn of the century? Or a miscalculation or misinterpretation on my part?

    • Clint, of course if you use the last two years of your graduation (99) that is a very large number compared to the current years number of 16. If you want to see how well it predicted what your starting salary was in 1999, start with -1.

  7. I think this sets up unrealistic expectations. I ran the numbers as if I were a new graduate and I have never made that much money in 23 years of practice. I can’t speak for everyone, but I could not afford to pay an associate that much, either.

  8. Dear AVMA,
    I am very disappointed to see this tool being published for new graduates and setting the expectation that female veterinarians should consider starting their salary negotiations at $2400/year than their equivalent male counterpart. I find this to be an egregious oversight that perpetuates an already frustrating problem of gender inequality in pay in a workforce of debt-ridden, 80% female, veterinary graduates.
    While I understand that the tool is based off of factual information gathered from current veterinarians and based upon the pay they are receiving in order to give a logical starting point, telling women to ask for less money is only perpetuating a problem that our profession desperately needs to solve. As a proud female veterinarian and active volunteer member of the AVMA, who would never consider negotiating for less salary than my male counterparts are receiving, I would strongly encourage this worksheet to be gender neutral or to, at a minimum, explain that it is perpetuating status quo. I find it awful that our leading organization is telling female graduates that they are worth less than men.
    Molly McAllister, DVM.

    • Molly,
      Thank you for your comment, it was well said. I was about to comment with something similar as I am very disappointed, too. I hope the AVMA will change the worksheet to be gender neutral. This tool, as it is currently exists, hinders progress with fair pay and does no favors to our profession as a whole.
      Jodi Collins, DVM, MPH, DACVPM

      • Thank you both for your comments, and we appreciate your concern. In fact, we’ve heard from several members who are concerned that our New Graduate Starting Salary Calculator subtracts $2,406.97 from the mean starting salary for the individual’s situation just for being female – and understandably so. Please understand that the Salary Calculator is a reflection of actual data; not a value statement on what “should” be.

        Providing this information in a tool – and not just included in a report – provides a better opportunity to impact behavior. Our Membership and Field Services staff have worked with veterinary students that have expressed alarm when they saw “subtract $2400” during the course of completing the Salary Calculator. They immediately questioned why they should subtract that amount for female veterinarians. That is exactly what we want them to do. If they had simply read “there’s a gender difference” in a report, they may understand that it exists in theory, but might not think about how it will impact them directly when they are actually engaged in their own salary negotiation. Perpetuating the gender disparity comes from not having information or being unwilling to openly acknowledge and address it.

        AVMA is working to improve the situation. We are planning to add a “call out box” to address this issue within the Salary Calculator flow chart and also create an FAQ that addresses gender-related issues. Hopefully that will address the immediate concern; female veterinarians should not automatically accept a $2,400 pay differential with their male counterparts. A new “Experienced Salary Calculator” is currently being developed that will also have gender differences. Again, it is simply what the data shows. We will use one FAQ section for this tool as well as any future tools.

        In addition to surfacing the issue, we’re working to help students and recent graduates with salary negotiations. Here are some updates:

        a. We have a project already underway to develop additional educational content to complement the Salary calculator and, among other things, it will include addressing negotiation (and therefore gender).

        b. An AVMA volunteer leader and staff veterinarian will be co-presenting a session at the AVMA Convention on negotiation skills. The session is “A Multi-Modal Approach to Your Salary Negotiations” and it will be held on Saturday, August 6 from 2-2:50pm

        c. AVMA Membership & Field Services staff have been working with individuals who provide negotiation training to students at the colleges of veterinary medicine. We would like to take some good ideas and activities and promote them to all the schools.

        Continued discussions on this subject are planned and additional solutions need to be developed. Our Economics Division, and others, are conducting additional research into the issues of veterinary compensation. We hope the attention paid to this the gender disparity will help students and our members appreciate the importance of completing any surveys they receive from AVMA and providing feedback on the economic reports. We also encourage members to join us and discuss potential causes of and solutions to this issue, as well as other important economic topics, at the upcoming Economic Summit on October 24-25, 2016 in Chicago.

        In summary, the illumination the Salary Calculator brought to the issue of gender disparity is an opportunity for engagement, education and elimination of these issues that have plagued the profession. We are working, and will continue to work, on bringing not only the problems, but the potential solutions, to the attention of our members. Thanks again for your comments and interest.

        • So for 3 + decades AVMA has noted the gender gap in pay (and many years before that the women in the profession were convinced of it, but with out benefit of a survey), which has been commented on for 3+ decades. Now AVMA decides it will try to fix that with a session at the convention and bring some ideas to the veterinary students on negotiation skills. Well, the response from AVMA leadership to concerns of members is not exactly overwhelming or timely. This could be a place to start in figuring out why AVMA no longer has 90%+ of students becoming AVMA members after graduation. Many of us really don’t care about change of colors in the AVMA banner or a new tag line, but we really do care about pay equity.

          • Gail, I am not sure how to direct Economic’s activities based on your response. You have both criticized AVMA for not acting, and then, for taking action. Over the last three years we have done our best to provide the profession as much information as possible about the veterinary markets. Three new positions were created to take that information directly to students on the college campuses. We would love to hear your suggestions about how we can improve our efforts.

      • Jodi, I hope you will read my comprehensive reply above. But I also want to respond directly to your suggestion that we not include gender as a factor. In doing this you will change all of the coefficients on the various factors to that extent that women are involved as a percentage of that specific component. The overall income will drop but those factors (e.g. food animal practitioners) that are dominated by men will see a much larger value attached to that factor. You will then not know if or how much of a gender disparity exists. The current calculator indicates that across the board women have made $2400 less men, on average, but there is no reason that this must continue. You may simply leave it out of your calculation and use the new computed salary as a starting point for negotiations. And, this is only one item of many to consider in negotiating a compensation package.