Animal-lovers in childhood often dream of making a career as a veterinarian. For years, this path, a highly selective and expensive one then and now, meant assured, steady work. Current trends in both the economy and education suggest that students should think very hard before committing to a career as a veterinarian, regardless of their depth of interest.
Summarizing the data from “The Vet Debt Trap” by David Segal in the 2/24/13 New York Times, IESolutions brings its readers the following information:
– The cost of vet school has outpaced the rate of inflation and currently carries a median cost of $63,000. per year;- Starting salaries have sunk by approximately 13%, inflation-adjusted, to $45,575. per year; – The ratio of debt to income today for the average new vet is approximately twice that of MDs; -Vet school students who take on significant debt face difficult odds of repaying the debt, whose interest is accumulating exponentially.
For many years, newly-minted DVMs/VMDs were immediately scooped up by animal hospitals and clinics. But vet school graduates of the class of 2012 found that only about half of them were able to land a full time, permanent job. The number of dogs and cats as pets has dropped in the past ten years, as has the amount of money owners spent at the vet for their pets. We can only surmise that the recession has been hard for pet owners; they are buying fewer animals, and taking them less often for vet care. Equine ownership is down, as well, with estimates of a 30% reduction since 2008.
Today, 80% of vet school graduates are women, and salaries for women run 16% lower than those for men. Women find large animal practice difficult to combine with raising a family; they are driving a vet truck from farm to farm in all kinds of weather for long days and distances. Working with equines, bovines, and ovines, where more jobs exist, is riskier than working with canines and felines.
IESolutions cautions students looking at graduate programs in veterinary science (and law) to only contemplate such training and careers if they can graduate with little or no debt.
Sarah C. Reese, Informed Educational Solutions