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Lower starting salaries than small animal practice combined with high student debt creates one of the primary pain points for equine practice retention and recruitment. Increasing compensation for both new and veteran practitioners will help achieve the work force growth needed to ensure care for all horses.
The Commission’s Compensation Subcommittee shares the following resources to assist equine veterinarians in developing policies and practices which will fuel financial growth and salaries in veterinary practice.


2022 AAEP Equine Medicine Salary & Lifestyle Survey   - Download full results here

The AAEP surveyed its U.S.-based members in fall 2022 to determine the average salary among those practicing equine medicine. 

The Compensation Subcommittee spotlights below the 9 key research findings which address important issues related to compensation for equine veterinarians.



#1:     Average Salaries

The AAEP survey of income asked for the 2021 W-2 income from veterinary work of the 1,762 survey respondents.  Because respondents who graduated in 2020 and 2021 were interns or students during half the 2021 calendar year, their results were removed from the following averages, which are rounded to the nearest $1,000.

2016-2019 Graduates (2-5 years post-graduation): Average salary of $89,000
2011-2015 Graduates (6-10 years post-graduation): Average salary of $123,000
2006-2010 Graduates (11-15 years post-graduation): Average salary of $164,000

AVMA annual surveys of graduating seniors capture the guaranteed salary, but do not reflect production bonuses or emergency fees paid to the attending veterinarian. Our data suggests that these additions boost actual compensation at least 25% above the published figures.



#2:     Emergency Fee Compensation

Over 1,300 respondents of the 2022 AAEP Compensation Survey shared how they are compensated for seeing emergencies. 

42% of equine veterinarians receive no additional money for their after-hours work. 

Only 32% receive all of the emergency fees charged to clients for this service.

With emergency responsibilities being one of the top reasons that equine practitioners leave the profession or fail to choose equine practice for their career when they graduate, providing additional pay for this necessary part of caring for horses is something all practices can do to attract and retain the veterinarians that give care after hours.


Emergency Fee

#3:  Compensation Satisfaction

A correlation between increasing job satisfaction and increasing salary was found among the equine veterinarians surveyed.

Very Satisfied with Job: $193,175
Somewhat Satisfied with Job: $131,136
Somewhat Dissatisfied with Job: $116,874
Very Dissatisfied with Job: $100,556

Higher salary is certainly not the sole reason for increased job satisfaction - salary can be a proxy for other factors - but how can we help to improve this aspect of equine practice? 

Tactics for increasing DVM compensation include:

  • Billing & collecting at the time of service
  • Distributing ER fees to DVM seeing the case
  • Setting fees with attention to doctor time expended
  • Scheduling based on location for highest efficiency

Source: 2022 AAEP Equine Medicine Salary & Lifestyle Survey

Job satisfaction


#4:    Average Hours Worked

Equine practice doesn’t mean 80 hours a week! On average, the equine practitioner works approximately 57 hours per week during the busy season and 39 hours per week during the slow season, not including on-call hours. Given the often seasonal component of the workload, working longer hours during the busy season is expected, with shorter days during the slow season. Thriving in equine practice must include taking advantage of the slow season to recharge your batteries. 

Respondents in their first several years of practice reported the highest number of hours. The number of hours worked per week decreased with the experience of the veterinarian. These numbers do not include hours worked on call, which can vary with the number of veterinarians splitting call in a practice or emergency cooperative. 

Practices with flexibility in scheduling can accommodate four-day or even three-day work weeks. Well-rested veterinarians often can work more efficiently, with less stress. This commonly results in higher revenues being produced per day of work. Offering a reduced schedule is something practices can do to attract and retain doctors in equine practice.

Average Hours


#5:     Debt Load Vs. Salary

#6:      # of Days Worked and Revenue Impact

#7:     Benefits Offered

#8:    Revenue as Compensation Plus Production