April 13, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic SciencesWebsite
Charles Dyson: The number of jobs in veterinary medicine has been steadily increasing especially among companion animal veterinarians, even before the pandemic. With increased work hours in many clinics due to increased cleaning requirements, many clinics were operating 24 hours a day and that increased the amount of labor needed in many clinics/hospitals. In addition, the growth of curbside services and other service mechanisms were introduced to keep clinics/hospitals in operation. I think we will continue to see job market growth in the number of companion animal jobs available, and I think there will continue to be some demand for jobs specifically catering to curbside services. In food/production animal, mixed, and equine (horse) practices job markets are continuing to be stable during the pandemic, and I foresee those to continue their same trends moving forward.
Charles Dyson: Internships continue to be a popular post-graduate pathway for many DVM graduates. The most common reason for pursuing an internship is that completion of a rotating internship is a requirement for most residency programs and, thus, a requirement for becoming a board-certified veterinary specialist in those disciplines. Board-certification and practice as a veterinary specialist can result in significantly higher earning potential, even when the extra years of study and lost earning potential are accounted for. Residency programs for most specialties is highly competitive. The job market for specialists in most disciplines is currently strong, with compensation and other benefits reflective of that demand. For veterinary graduates interested in primary care (non-specialty practice) in a private practice setting, there is little evidence that a rotating internship is advantageous in this job market. Veterinarians with an interest in owning their own practice and having the skills to be successful in that endeavor can realize financial returns nearing that of specialization.
Charles Dyson: Salaries were impacted for many years as a result of the national recession of 2008. Salaries were relatively stagnant until 2017 when we saw a significant jump. Since then, salaries have been on the rise every year, but that growth is not the same across the different practice types. Companion animal salaries have seen the most growth due to increasing demand by pet owners for preventive veterinary care. Salaries for mixed and food/production animal clinicians are also experiencing steady growth, albeit with some consolidation in the number of positions (especially food animal). Equine (horse) clinicians have continued to experience little salary growth over time. This is likely due to a dwindling number of horse owners. Salaries for veterinary specialists continue to climb, although certain specialties are in greater demand. The widespread use of teleradiology by practices has created tremendous demand for veterinary radiologists, with radiology training programs unable to keep up with demand. The growing availability of telehealth options and their acceptance by clients, catalyzed in part by the pandemic, will likely result in sustained growth for those veterinarians and specialists able to leverage the technology. Veterinary practice acts in many states continue to limit the use of telehealth in veterinary medicine but we anticipate that changing, given its widespread use in human healthcare.