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Staying in the know: 2022 Veterinary Salaries Report

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Phil Snowball General, Employers, Jobseekers...

Discover the latest insights from Recruit4Vets 2022 Vet Salary Report, which explores post-pandemic salaries within the veterinary sector, as well as key factors affecting engagement levels and staff satisfaction scores.

Salary transparency is key for ensuring you know where you stand within your industry; helping you to negotiate your salary inline with current rates and providing a guide for setting your hourly rate should you find yourself as a locum veterinary surgeon or nurse. It also works towards helping to close the gender pay gap, exposing inequalities and highlighting opportunities for fairer pay.

Should you be looking for a new role, or perhaps are exploring salary negotiations for yourself or your team, it’s important to have an understanding of the post-pandemic landscape. 

In their fifth annual report – the first since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – Recruit4Vets have dug deep into the data, uncovering the latest salary ranges and hourly rates for both veterinary surgeons and nurse practitioners across the permanent and locum sectors.

Their team of experts have also looked into Employee Net Promoter Scores to evaluate employee engagement within the industry, pulling out key drivers for overall job satisfaction and the potential reasons behind the current rate of employee churn.

The results 

Salaries for veterinary surgeons post-pandemic have risen significantly. In fact, 68% of respondents said their salary had increased over the last 12 months. 

Today, the average salary for vets with less than two years of experience is now £35,022, an increase of 24% when compared to 2019. This jumps to £43,970 for those with between two and five years of experience, then £55,743 with five or more years under their belt, an increase of 24.5% and 20% respectively. On top of that, 29% of respondents said they received a bonus in addition to their salary. 

Elevated salaries were also apparent for veterinary nurses, with the average salary for those with two or less years of experience now set at £23,223, a 17% increase from 2019. For nurses with two to five years of experience, they can expect to earn £26,805 on average, with those with over five years in the industry now earning £28,090, an increase of 27% and 16%. Meanwhile, Head Nurses’ salaries averaged out at £30,238. As a nurse, you were almost half as likely to receive a bonus compared to your veterinary surgeon counterparts, with only 16% of respondents reporting their pay had been topped up. 

While pay increases and bonuses certainly sweeten the deal when it comes to working in the veterinary sector, how do those within the industry currently feel when it comes to job satisfaction and employee engagement?

Employee Engagement

Recruit4Vets also looked into Net Promoter Scores, which have been used for 18 years by top companies to measure customer experience and predict business growth, applying the concepts to evaluate employee engagement.

Their teams asked respondents how likely they would be to recommend their current employer as a place to work on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being extremely unlikely and 10 being extremely likely. This would then determine their Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) by categorising them into Promoters, Passives and Detractors. 

To calculate the eNPS score, they subtracted the % of Promoters from the % of Detractors, ignoring the Passives. Scores can range from -100% to +100%, with anything above zero deemed acceptable – a score between +10 to +30 is considered good and a score of +50 or above considered excellent. 

The eNPS from respondents to this salary survey was -26% which although low, is an improvement on the 2019 score of -35.4%. 

Digging deeper into the rationale behind the low score, feedback found that poor management and long working hours were overwhelmingly the most common reasons for not awarding a higher score. Other factors included a poor work/life balance, lack of staff and feeling undervalued. 

However, it wasn’t all bad. Some of the positive feedback for working in the sector included a varied caseload and flexibility. Though to bring that score up, there’s a significant amount of work to do to improve overall job satisfaction levels and reduce the alarming rate of employee churn, which has left the industry suffering from serious staff shortages. 

Other reasons behind these staff shortages include an acute shortage of vets and nurses willing to work in permanent positions, the implications of Brexit causing a reduction in European vets and nurses working in the UK, as well as the effect of changes to IR35 legislation. 

As a result, the industry has seen a significant increase in demand for locum staff. Recruits4Vets applied the same principles of their salary report to the locum sector, uncovering their wages, and finding some surprising results. 

Locum vet salaries increase by 46% 

In 2022, the average pay rate for locum vets is £449 per day, a staggering 46% higher than in 2019. Locum nurses have also seen a significant increase of 28% in their average hourly rate, now receiving £21.59 an hour. 

Locum vets using Limited Companies had the highest pay rates at £461 per day, followed by Umbrella Companies at £442, with Sole Traders next at £436. For locum nurses, those on zero hours contracts were paid the highest at £22.47, followed by those working through umbrella companies at £21.80, while self employed sole trader locums were paid £21.00 and locums working via their limited company were paid £20.83. 

For vets working through Zero Hours Contracts, the average rate was £429 per day, a surprising discovery when combined with the insights from the nurses survey considering most would expect rates to be significantly lower due to the client being liable for employers national insurance and holiday pay, pushing the cost up for the client by up to 25%.

 But why are so many opting to become locum? 

Flexibility was overwhelmingly the most common answer, with 65% of vets and 49% of nurses listing it as their key driver, while better pay came in as the second reason behind the career choice. In addition, over 70% of both vets and nurses felt their skills were being utilised and almost 80% felt valued by practices, though this is down when compared to 2019. 

With demand for locums showing no sign of slowing down, it’s unlikely that the number of people deciding to locum as a career choice will reduce. 

So, what does this all mean for employers? 

Clearly we are doing a better job at providing engaging experiences for the veterinary customer than we are for the veterinary team. It’s important as leaders we realise that not everyone experiences the world the same way, and so job satisfaction qualities differ for everyone. 

Good management, feeling valued and fair pay in line with industry trends are all ways to reduce staff turnover; not only when it comes to attracting the right people for the job, but also for keeping them once they start. 

Investing time and money into your people will not only help to improve overall performance and staff retention, it will also work towards eradicating burnout and compassion fatigue, tackling the shockingly high suicide rates in the veterinary industry. 

Shifts now should help improve next year’s eNPS score, but only time will tell. Check back in twelve months to find out.

Download Recruit4vets 2022 Locum Pay Rate Survey

Download Recruit4vets 2022 Salary Survey

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