News & Events

2003 Graduate Salary Survey:
Average Starting Salary and Benefit Data for the Class of 2003

Every year as graduation approaches, senior veterinary students exploring their employment options ask School of Veterinary Medicine officials and mentors what they should expect regarding salaries, benefits, and work conditions.

In June 2003, the school collected extensive raw data from the Class of 2003 and prepared an analysis to assist veterinary graduates making employment decisions. The following information summarizes the results of the survey.

Base Salaries

Of 122 graduating students in the class, 82 completed the salary survey. The average base salary was $49,489. This figure represents a weighted average* that accounts for the varying number of students in each type of practice. (*Weighted averages are adjusted to account for the differences in practice type or the differences in the number of people choosing a particular practice type.)

Large animal practices offered an average base salary of $62,200 compared with an average $52,371 for small animal practices. Equine practices paid lower starting salaries on average, $23,333.

A significant number of students (22) chose to work in internships for further clinical experience or to pursue graduate degrees, which are usually required for research or academic careers. These training positions paid much less than associate veterinarian jobs, an average of $24,332, and offered few benefits compared to the benefits offered in practice employment.

Total Compensation: Salary + Benefits

Benefits added significantly to the average compensation package. Although the weighted average base salary was $49,489, the additional value of pension plans, insurance, sick leave, vacation leave and other benefits resulted in an average total compensation package (salary + benefits) of $70,547. Also, while starting base salaries reported by equine practitioners were lower than average at $23,333, the salary and benefits package brought total compensation for equine vets to an average of $48,108.

To determine the value of various benefits offered by employers, recognized sources were consulted. Those sources and the suggested value assigned for each benefit are footnoted in the analysis.

Gender factors

Fifty-six women and 26 men completed the survey. Women reported smaller salary + benefits packages in small animal, mixed animal, equine, and internship positions. However, women in large animal practices reported higher total compensation ($99,561 salary + benefits) than men ($98,582 salary + benefits).

With the participation of each graduating class, school administrators will update and refine this information to maximize its value as a resource for veterinary students making career decisions.


To examine the 2003 Graduate Salary Survey in its entirety, please go to www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/placementservices.