Every year SPVS runs a salary survey for the whole veterinary profession. The survey considers the salary (both package and basic and hourly rates) for different veterinary roles and provides median, lower quartile and upper quartile values of salaries for period of qualification, job types (small versus equine versus large animal), different genders and positions of responsibility for vets and nurses, in addition to regional differences. The main reason to use the median level rather than the average is that it is more reliable as outliers will be discounted.
How is the survey useful for me?
The survey can help you to understand what others are getting paid in the profession for doing a similar job at a similar level. It can then help you to understand if you are being paid a fair wage and can help if you are looking to negotiate your salary. So, for example, if you are a three-year graduated vet in South Wales, the report provides you with the median, upper quartile and lower quartile salaries of three-year qualified vets in this region.
[The SPVS salary survey] can then help you to understand if you are being paid a fair wage and can help if you are looking to negotiate your salary
If you are an employer SPVS would always encourage a fair wage as part of responsible leadership and the salary is a great starting point or sense check for the current salaries you are paying.
Who filled it in this year?
The salary survey this year received over 1,800 responses. Sixty-nine percent of respondents were vets, while just over a fifth were nurses. The majority of those who responded to the survey identified as female (79 percent), which represents a slight drop from last year. The majority of respondents (60 percent) were in predominantly small animal practice and the average number of years qualified was 11.6 years.
Of the vets who responded, 54 percent were in an assistant role and 37 percent were in a senior or managerial role. There was an even split for nurse respondents, with 44 percent in a standard RVN role and 44 percent in a position of leadership. The results show an increase in the number of nurses in leadership roles over the last few years which is encouraging.
How did salary differ with career progression?
Alongside looking at the period of qualification, another way of comparing salaries is to look at career progression. As we all know, in veterinary medicine there is no set pathway but the different categories chosen in the survey were:
- Postgraduate training/qualification to help with additional clinical responsibilities
- Postgraduate training/qualification to help with additional non-clinical responsibilities
- Accepting referrals alongside first opinion work
- Wholly referral work
- A manager with responsibility for day-to-day operational decisions
- A leader who is able to determine the strategic direction of the business
- Other achievements that helped advance their role
These categories are not mutually exclusive and seemed to be reasonable for a measure of career progression as salaries overall increased incrementally from level one to six. For instance, the median salary for no further qualifications or responsibility was £45,425 per annum, while for levels one and two, it was reported as £50,000. For level three it was £59,500 and £63,101 for level four. Finally, for level five the median salary was reported as £67,589 and £75,500 for level six.
A gender gap in career progression
For vets, the percentage answering yes to each category was broken down between male and female. In each case the percentage of men responding positively was significantly higher than that for women with the disparity increasing compared to last year. It appears a similar number of men and women are doing postgraduate training or qualifications, but fewer women are converting this into a management or leadership position.
It appears a similar number of men and women are doing postgraduate training or qualifications, but fewer women are converting this into a management or leadership position
Why is this? Is it because more women will be off work during maternity leave and more want to work part-time after having children? If this is the case, why is working part-time a barrier to being in leadership and do we need to change the assumption of this? Are there enough flexible working leadership roles in the profession? How is this impacted by the wider discussions on childcare provision and the new governmental changes coming into effect?
Or is it because men are naturally more self-assured and are applying for these roles? Are men better at negotiating starting salaries? Or is it that women are happier being an assistant and don’t actually want to be in a position of leadership? In reality, it is probably a combination of all of the above.
Interestingly, if nurses are added the disparity reduces in the leadership and management roles indicating more female nurses are choosing more senior roles in the practice.
If nurses are added the disparity reduces in the leadership and management roles indicating more female nurses are choosing more senior roles in the practice
Is the gender pay gap real?
Recently there has been news coverage with regard to a gender pay gap with veterinary companies accounting for 4 out of the 10 worst companies for this. But it is really important to understand what gender pay gap means and understand the context.
It means placing all the male employees in order of salary and then placing the women alongside them, comparing the two salaries in the middle. It is not comparing like-for-like roles, so in female-dominated industries such as the veterinary industry, where there are many women having receptionist and nurse roles, this will skew this figure, giving a gender pay gap.
It’s important to understand that people in similar roles may have the same salary despite there appearing to be a gender pay gap. As a profession what we actually need to understand is why there is a smaller percentage of women than men promoted or in higher salary roles.
As a profession what we actually need to understand is why there is a smaller percentage of women than men promoted or in higher salary roles
The Office for National Statistics (2022) reported for all employees the gender pay gap was 14.9 percent for this year. The SPVS salary survey actually did compare like-for-like to look at the gender pay gap and compared salaries for the same period qualified for men and women. The gap was still 22 percent with the highest gender pay gap occurring in people over the age of 40. For vets more than 15 years qualified, 22 percent of women were still in a junior or associate position compared with only 6 percent of men. A much higher percentage of men than women were in a position of leadership or management at this age. Things need to change to be a true representation of our profession.
What can we do to encourage women in leadership roles?
There are a number of actions we can take at every level of practice:
- Support managers to understand how roles can be done flexibly. This might involve consulting with current staff and giving advice and guidance on what flexible working might look like
- When advertising jobs, advertise them as flexible by default (unless this really can’t be done). This then attracts a wider range of talent initially
- Look at the current uptake of flexible working, shared parental leave and paternity leave and review or encourage policy updates or changes
- Consider a staff survey to assess gender differences – do employees feel supported to take up flexible learning? Do they feel working flexibly is a barrier to career progression? And if so, why?
- Do your employees know that flexible working and parental leave options are available to them? Ensure they are educated in this
There were a few other interesting figures from the SPVS salary survey worth noting:
- There has been a clear change in work–life balance with a greater role for out-of-hours (OOH) providers as 51 percent of vets and nurses reported working overtime, which is a drastic reduction from 78 percent in 2021. A question remains as to the impact this could have on veterinary skill sets given less exposure to emergency procedures
- For a full-time vet, the median salary has risen by 9 percent compared to last year. This was true for most regions except London, where it rose by a staggering 47 percent. For fully qualified nurses the median salary increased by 13 percent
- For locum vets the daily rates increased by 21 percent and their night rates increased by 50 percent. For locum nurses, their day rates increased by 38 percent. These increases are also linked with greater demands for work–life balance and a move away from roles requiring regular OOH work
|SPVS members will have full access to the survey through the SPVS website.