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Get the pay you deserve! Our guide to negotiating your veterinary salary raise

Get the pay you deserve! Our guide to negotiating your veterinary salary raise

Being an expert in animal care is a highly desired skill and profession within the last few years, and we’ve discussed this demand often in our blog. The rising need for highly trained veterinarians and veterinary technicians translates into an increased demand for skilled professionals in a market where the pool is thinning with such a competitive market. And the need doesn’t appear to be decreasing, which means that it is time for you to reevaluate your salary. So before you take a lunch with your local job recruitment professional, you should explore the best ways to negotiate a raise within your current veterinary clinic. We have the tools to help! 

Veterinary work is an empathetic and care-focused professional, which often means that as professionals your immediate desire is one that is more centered on care for others and your clients. This often generates loyalty within your current job position, but loving your job doesn’t mean that you should bypass the opportunity to explore higher pay rates for that work. 

The first step to discussing a pay raise is to prep a strategy. Have you considered what your strategy for salary-based discussions will be? The first thing you’ll need to consider is how you want to approach the conversation with your employer. Things you’ll have to think about are very specific rates and percentages for how much you believe the salary increase should be. Calculate your desired percentage and then add 50% to that percentage. Annual raises based on cost of living can look like anything from 3% to 5%, but with consideration to the need to retain veterinary staff you should feel comfortable with adding to that percentage. Make sure that you know how much you are earning when making this estimation, and make note of how you add value, both emotionally and financially, to your practice. Be sure to practice self-confidence for this conversation, you are worth your raise and should be ready to communicate why you are deserving of a conversation related to salary negotiation. 


Make sure that you carefully plan when you want to have this conversation and use this as the starting point in fulfilling your plan. If you are just starting to consider a conversation regarding a pay increase, start to plan to have the actual conversation about three months from the start of the idea germinating. You will need a substantial amount of time to plan and broach the conversation with your employer. During this planning period, consider how you can showcase how you add value and benefits to the practice. Try to do things that will demonstrate that you are always willing to go above and beyond the requested tasks. This can be things such as writing up a procedure without being asked, nurturing new talent, or offering to take on jobs that others in the practice are more hesitant to take on. 


Are you familiar with your market? Before you go in for your salary discussion, make sure to talk to at least three of your peers. Last week we discussed expanding your network. Ask other veterinary professionals in your recently expanded network how much they make. This will provide a greater scope of what kind salary is reasonable to request. It’s smartest to use your network as they will offer an insight into what animal care experts make outside of your direct clinic (asking others within your practice is not a good idea). But make sure that the professionals that you ask within your network are local so as to provide the most accurate estimate of what other veterinarians and veterinary technicians are making within the range of your practice. It can also be helpful to look at job boards to see what the offered salary is for open positions within your field of expertise. 

Do you have a goal in mind? Be sure to know what exactly it is that you are asking for. Wanting to be fairly and reasonably compensated is one thing, but that isn’t the crux of exactly what you need. You’ve done your research, you’ve demonstrated your value, but make sure you take into account additional things such as: opportunities for further education, hours in a workday, vacation time, and health benefits. This conversation doesn’t have to be exclusive to money, though that is important, it should also consider the added benefits that are provided when given the opportunity. 

Be prepared to illustrate the ways that you are an asset. During your negotiation, it will be essential that you have tangible examples of how you are assisting when it comes to the financial bottom line of your practice. Consider writing down a list of your qualifications to readily have them at your disposal. Point out how you’re capable of providing animal care that others are not. And note your commitment to both the practice and your profession. Before you have your conversation, make sure that you practice so that you feel the most confident and prepared. We’ve discussed the necessity to be confident in other blog articles, and this demonstration of confidence will lend itself to how convincing it is for your employers to acquiesce to your request for a salary and benefit re-evaluation. 

And ultimately, make sure that you pick the appropriate time to have your negotiation. Timing is important when it comes to asking for a raise. Ensure that it takes place during a low-stress time when the practice isn’t swamped. Early in the day best lends itself to making requests and getting the most sincere attention from an employer. Take note of slower seasons and try to plan your negotiation around then as it will ensure that your boss will be less distracted. And try to be sensitive to your boss’s schedule, try to ensure that you are working within their schedule and aren’t shoehorned in. It would be best to try and have at least two non-salary meetings with them before you meet for that conversation, and to not blindside them with the conversation regarding a raise by setting a meeting well ahead of time. Make sure that the meeting takes place in a private location where you will be free to speak candidly and without interruptions. 

You are worth your raise. And successful salary negotiations are likely to take place with a bit of planning and research. In the end, your work is worthy of a well-deserved raise. Be confident in your abilities and make sure that you are getting the rightful compensation that speaks to your background, dedication, and skills.