4 Steps for Negotiating Veterinary Employment Benefits When Starting a New Job

May 1, 2024
4 min

After long days in class and late nights studying, most of us can’t wait to graduate from veterinary school. We’re more than ready to put everything we’ve learned into practice. 

But with all that excitement comes the pressure of perusing job listings, writing a resume, putting your interview skills to the test, and—when you receive a job offer—evaluating an employment contract.

It’s not as simple as looking at the salary and compensation structure. You also have to decide which benefits are most important to you and what you’d like to negotiate with your potential employer. 

Unfortunately, many of us are uncomfortable with negotiation, whether we feel we lack the skills to negotiate or we’re concerned that the employer might withdraw the offer altogether. This is particularly prevalent for women: In the medical field, women have a significantly more negative view of salary negotiation and are less likely to believe they have the tools to negotiate successfully.1

Thankfully, negotiation skills can be learned and practiced. Let’s explore what you need to know to confidently negotiate a veterinary employment benefits package.

What Benefits Are Typically Offered to Associate Veterinarians?

We all want to find a veterinary practice that’s a good fit in terms of culture, values, and mentorship, and we know there’s much more to consider than just the compensation package the practice offers.

But an attractive benefits package can give you peace of mind and improve job satisfaction.    

What a practice offers will vary, but the most common benefits offered to associate veterinarians include2:

  • Licensing fees
  • Continuing education expenses
  • Discounted pet care
  • Association dues
  • Liability insurance
  • Continuing education leave
  • Employer contribution/match (eg, 401k)
  • Medical/hospitalization plan
  • Tax-deferred retirement plan (eg, 401k)
  • Paid sick leave

While these benefits are typically the most common, benefits packages are often customizable and negotiable. Associate veterinarians can receive a wide variety of benefits, ranging from dental care and clothing allowances to gym memberships and housing assistance.

If your potential employer hasn’t offered the particular benefit you’re hoping for, it’s time to negotiate.

4 Steps to Negotiating Veterinary Employment Benefits 

As intimidating as a negotiation can be, it is also an opportunity to open the lines of communication with your employer, share your perspective, and demonstrate confidence. 

Following these 4 steps can help you prepare for a successful negotiation.

1. Decide what benefits matter most to you.

The first step to negotiating a veterinary employment benefits package is making a list of your priorities. Is a large CE budget—that covers both online and in-person opportunities—your top priority? Or does vacation time, dental care, or paid sick leave rank higher on your priority list? 

It’s important to enter a negotiation with clear goals in mind so you can clearly and concisely discuss what’s most important to you and why.

2. Research industry benchmarks.

Knowing what benefits other veterinarians in similar positions are receiving can help both you and your employer make informed decisions.

Consider searching for benchmark associate compensation surveys from federal, state, or provincial veterinary medical associations relevant to your area. The AVMA’s salary estimator tool is a useful resource that can provide you with an approximate salary range you can use as a guide for negotiations. You could also reach out to classmates, coworkers, and local colleagues to ask what compensation and benefits they receive.

3. Consider the value to the practice.

For some benefits—such as CE allowances or subscriptions to reference tools—it can be helpful to highlight the potential value this additional training or support can provide to the practice.

For example, a CE budget that allows you to pursue additional training in dentistry or ultrasound will provide value to the practice in the future.

4. Practice in advance and anticipate questions.

Preparation is key.

Before approaching your potential employer, compile a list of key points and be ready to discuss the background for your request.

If you anticipate any specific hurdles, such as cost, you could demonstrate your consideration by looking into alternative solutions, discounts, or group benefits.

Rehearsing what you plan to say can help you feel more confident going into the discussion.

Sample Negotiation: Covering a Clinical Reference Tool

Let’s take a look at an example of how to approach a negotiation for veterinary employment benefits. In this case, we’ll use Plumb’s Pro™ as an example.

Say you had a student subscription to Plumb’s Pro™ while in veterinary school and found it helpful, particularly during clinical rotations. You’ve spoken to several of your classmates who are receiving a subscription to Plumb’s™ as part of their compensation package in their new positions, and you decide to negotiate for the same.

Start with the basics.

Your potential employer isn’t familiar with Plumb’s Pro™, so you start with the basics.

You explain it is an annual subscription that provides the information you need to work up cases, choose treatments, and educate pet owners.

You also mention that it’s continually updated, so you’d be able to reference current diagnostic and treatment information without waiting for new textbook editions, scrolling through forums, or sorting through stacks of journals.

Support your points.

Seeing is believing, so you share a demo video with your potential employer to give them a better idea of how Plumb’s Pro™ supports patient care and client education.

Explain the value to the practice.

Next, you describe the value that Plumb’s Pro™ can bring to the practice, from making care recommendations clear to clients to helping you be more efficient and confident in your decision-making.

Recognizing that practice finances are a consideration, you offer several solutions to save money on the subscription cost or get more value, including saving 10% by signing up for annual billing or opting for a group plan that would extend the benefit to your colleagues at a lower per-person rate. 

You also share that there’s an exclusive discount available to recent graduates, and you can get 50% off Plumb’s Pro™ for 2 years after graduation.

Remember: Negotiations naturally involve some back-and-forth. Expect your potential employer to counter your proposal at first, so keep some additional points in mind to persuade them. The more you know about what matters most to your employer (cost, quality of care, client relationships), the easier it is to tailor your points to their priorities.

Negotiations are about more than just the immediate benefits. They set the stage for future career growth and help foster a respectful, fulfilling employee-employer relationship.

Want to see how to make Plumb’s™ your partner in practice? Explore plans.

Just graduated? Learn more and get your exclusive graduate discount.


  1. Gray K, Neville A, Kaji AH, et al. Career Goals, Salary Expectations, and Salary Negotiation Among Male and Female General Surgery Residents. JAMA Surg. 2019;154(11):1023-1029. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.2879
  2. American Veterinary Medical Association. Chart of the Month: What’s in your benefits package? Published July 14, 2023. Accessed April 5, 2024. https://www.avma.org/blog/chart-month-whats-your-benefits-package