How to Negotiate Your Salary

Dec 1, 2018

Tips And Tricks For Negotiating In The Veterinary Industry

Veterinary services are in huge demand now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the USA and similar bodies in the UK, Australia and worldwide, opportunities for Veterinarians are set to climb by 19 percent through 2026, while roles for Veterinary Nurses and Veterinary Technicians will increase by 20 percent. So, if you haven’t thought about it already, it might be a good time to ask about your salary.

Negotiating an employment contract can be a nerve-wracking event. Many of us in the veterinary industry after all, tend to be more focused on the work and our love for the animals, rather than the money we end up taking home at the end of the day. But don’t your love for your job and animals stop you from having important conversations about your wage.

The first strategy? Have a strategy!

Going into a conversation about a raise unprepared is bound to increase your stress levels. You should start thinking about how to approach the subject early – not the night before. Start by looking in the mirror every day and affirm that “I am worthy, I love my job and I know I am worth a raise”. You should also consider how much of a raise you’re expecting, your years of experience, leadership and why you think you deserve a raise in the first place.

It can help to start putting in extra effort about three months before you go in to ask for a raise. When you demonstrate that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your clinic, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to get the raise you’re hoping for. Remember that your ‘go the extra mile’ mentality needs to last beyond the raise – it’s not really about the raise itself, it’s also about self-improvement generally.

Have a specific goal

I want a raise’ is a good starting place, but you also need to consider how much you want or need your current salary to increase. Don’t be afraid to ask for an increase approximately 50% more than you’re hoping to get. If you’re immediately successful – great! But in most cases, you’ll find that you need to negotiate that salary increase. Be very specific and set a total salary that you wish to achieve and choose a slightly odd number eg. $81,000 or $127,000; a subtle but important tactic.

Know your market

Talk with peers about what they’re making. It’s not recommended to discuss this with other vets in your clinic, so you might need to chat with peers who work at other local clinics. Local is the key word here: what your market can support may differ from what is normal in another city or state. If you are curious, you can start looking online at similar jobs and what they are paying. This will arm you with applicable examples that you can draw when framing your negotiations.

Prepare, prepare prepare!

Now that you have a strategy in mind for negotiating a raise, take time to prepare your arguments. What have you accomplished for your practice? Note any extra efforts you have been working towards, your commitment and reliability, specialty skills or recent accomplishments: new certifications, new knowledge or skills or cases you’re particularly proud of. Preparing these arguments ahead of time will prevent you from feeling anxious when you’re sitting in front of your boss.

Choose the right time and place

Timing is critical when you’re asking for a raise. Choose a low-stress time when things typically aren’t too busy around your clinic or a time when business is flourishing and appointments are flowing in; you will be surprised how much a difference this makes. Set up a meeting with your boss ahead of time. Let them know the subject matter and request an hour of their time. If possible, have at least two non-salary meetings with your boss prior to your wage negotiation. This will give you conversation familiarity that will be helpful once wage discussions commence.


If you can, find a friend or associate who knows the industry. You should have a mentor if you don’t already – they are amazing tools. Together, you can role play the salary review meeting. You should practice the specific wording you are going to use, eye contact, body language, when to talk and when to stay quiet and practice bringing the discussion to a mutually beneficial close. Don’t forget why you are asking for a raise in the first place: be patient, be determined and be proud of your expertise.

Negotiating can be difficult but is a necessary tool if you want to improve your salary. Don’t go into a wage conversation unprepared. Keep in mind WHY you deserve a higher salary, what it will mean to you, your lifestyle and your friends and family. You work hard; everyone in the veterinary profession does. It’s not selfish to ask for a wage increase – it’s about establishing self-worth.

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