Episode #164 – Increasing Pet Ownership and the Ever-Growing Demand for Veterinary Talent

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #164 - Increasing Pet Ownership and the Ever-Growing Demand for Veterinary Talent
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Executive Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary industry. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health Employers and Veterinary Employers hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about pet ownership in this country and the ever-growing demand for Veterinary talent. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here today.

Julea: Stacy, the Veterinary industry has been red-hot during the past several years in terms of the employment marketplace, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. We’ve discussed this before, but the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is extremely low right now. It’s been hovering right around 1% for the past two years or so.

Julea: Yes, that is extremely low! The National Unemployment Rate is just under 4%, and that’s the lowest it’s been in 50 years. So, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary industry is even drastically lower than that.

Stacy, how has pet ownership contributed to all of this?

Stacy: It’s contributed a great deal, especially since pet ownership in this country continues to rise. And the more people who own pets, the more people are going to need Veterinary services to care for those pets. And when there is a greater demand for Veterinary services, there’s going to be a greater demand for Veterinary talent to carry out those services. This is simply the Law of Supply and Demand.

Julea: How, specifically, has pet ownership been rising?

Stacy: Last year, the American Veterinary Medical Association, or the AVMA, published its annual Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. This book is a source of data regarding pet ownership and the habits of pet-owning households in the United States. The Sourcebook revealed a lot of interesting things.

For example, nearly 57% of all U.S. households owned a pet at the end of 2016. In addition, roughly 38% of households in the U.S. owned one or more dogs. That’s the highest rate of dog ownership since the AVMA began measuring the statistic in 1982. Not only that, but approximately 25% of U.S. households also owned a cat, as well. And keep in mind that these statistics lag a few years behind. That’s why the Sourcebook only has numbers from 2016.

And there’s even more good news for those who are working in the Veterinary profession.

Julea: What’s that Stacy?

Stacy: According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $18 billion on Veterinary care in 2018. In addition, Americans also spent 6.1% more on Veterinary care in 2018 than in 2017. That represented the fastest growth rate of any category that the APPA tracks.

Julea: What about last year?

Stacy: According to the APPA, Americans were projected to spend nearly $19 billion on Veterinary care last year. That’s almost a 5% increase over 2018.

Julea: So it looks as though the rate of pet ownership is increasing and so is the amount of money that people are spending on Veterinary care.

Stacy: That’s right, and the APPA has also provided two other pieces of interesting information. First, the frequency of Veterinary visits has increased. And second, Millennials are and continue to be the largest pet-owning demographic.

Julea: Stacy, if people are spending that much money on Veterinary care, how often are they taking their pets to the vet? Do you have statistics regarding that?

Stacy: I do. According to the AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, dog-owning Veterinary clients made an average of three visits to the vet in 2016. On the other hand, cat-owning Veterinary clients made an average of 2.4 visits.

Julea: Wow, you’re right. This is all very positive information for the Veterinary profession.

Stacy: It is positive information! And when it comes to drawing conclusions from all it, we can do that, too. The conclusions that we can draw are:

  • More people own pets than ever before.
  • More people who own pets own multiple pets.
  • Pet owners are making more visits to their vet.
  • Pet owners are spending more on Veterinary care on a year-over-year basis.
  • Pet owners’ spending on Veterinary care is expected to continue increasing.

Julea: So Stacy, I know we’ve talked about this on and off before, but it seems to me that all of this information and the conclusions you just listed are going to translate into even more job openings in the Veterinary profession. Is that right?

Stacy: That’s 100% correct. We’ve talked about these numbers before, but they bear repeating considering the topic of today’s podcast episode. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certain occupations within the Veterinary profession are set to grow at a rate of 19% during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. When you compare that to other occupations, the average projected growth rate for all other occupations is only 7%.

Julea: Stacy, what does that mean in terms of the number of jobs that are going to be added within the Veterinary profession during this 10-year period?

Stacy: It means there will be over 50,000 more jobs in the Veterinary profession in 2026 than there were in 2016.

Julea: That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Stacy: It does sound great. However, it poses a problem for Veterinary employers and Veterinary practices.

Julea: Tell me more about that Stacy.

Stacy: As we mentioned earlier in the show, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession has been hovering right around 1% for the past two years or so. The question is what is going to happen when another 50,000 Veterinary positions are created? Where will employers find the Veterinary talent to fill those positions?

There is also a “problem within the problem.” That problem is there simply are not enough new graduates to keep pace with the growth that the profession is going to experience.

Julea: Stacy, which occupations within the Veterinary profession are going to experience this growth, specifically?

Stacy: That’s a great question. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those occupations are:

  • Veterinarians
  • Veterinary technologists or Veterinary technicians
  • And Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers

The good news is that the BLS has also released projections in terms of the number of jobs that will be added to these three categories. Those numbers are as follows:

  • Veterinarians: +15,000 jobs
  • Veterinary technologists or Veterinary technicians: +20,400 jobs
  • And Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers: +16,300 jobs

Julea: Stacy, is that how you arrived at the number of over 50,000 jobs?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly right. When you add those numbers together, you get 51,700 new jobs. Since we’re considering a 10-year span, that’s an average of more than 5,000 new jobs each and every year. And of course, since we’re already more than three years into this decade of growth, it means about 15,000 jobs have already been added. However, it also means that at least 35,000 new jobs have yet to be added during the course of the next six-plus years.

Julea: Stacy, you mentioned that the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is right around 1%. How tough is it for Veterinary employers and practices to hire the people they need to hire?

Stacy: By some estimates, there is only one qualified candidate or applicant for every five job openings within the profession.

Julea: Wow, that’s pretty scarce in terms of Veterinary talent.

Stacy: Yes, but the question is how much more scarce are these candidates going to be in the next few years? We could be looking at a situation where there is only one qualified candidate for every 10 job openings within the Veterinary profession. Or one candidate for every 15 job openings. That is not a situation that any Veterinary employer is looking forward to.

Julea: So what should employers do?

Stacy: There is a lot at stake for employers, not just now, but also well into the future. That’s why I recommend that employers are proactive and they act with urgency when trying to hire. I’ve said this before, but the margin for error for Veterinary employers right now is thin. You could describe it as razor-thin. Seven years from now, their margin for error might be non-existent.

Julea: What does that mean, that the margin for error will be non-existent?

Stacy: It means employers will simply not be able to afford to make mistakes. That’s how tough it’s going to be. It’s almost crazy to think about, but it’s the reality of the situation. If these growth projections hold true for the Veterinary profession, then some employers may not be able to hire anyone at all, no matter how badly they want to.

Julea: I would think that employers should be proactive and acting with a sense of urgency right now and not waiting. The last thing they should be doing is waiting.

Stacy: That’s absolutely right. Circumstances are only going to become more challenging, not less so. This is one of the reasons why I recommend that employer’s partner with an experienced Veterinary recruiter to find the talent you need. This is a strategic move that can give an animal health company or a veterinary practice the competitive advantage it needs in the marketplace.

Julea: tell me more about the competitive advantage it can give to animal health companies and veterinary practices Stacy.

Stacy: There are a number of reasons why partnering with an experienced recruiter can help. First, an experienced Animal Health recruiter or Veterinary recruiter knows who the top candidates are. In addition, they’ve spent time building relationships with those candidates. As a result, they know what the candidates want and they know the circumstances under which the candidates would make a move for another employment opportunity. This is extremely valuable information, and hiring managers and practice owners are not likely to have this information.

If you’re a Veterinary employer needing to hire right now, then there are three key points to remember. They are:

  1. Time is of the essence.
  2. The margin for error is razor-thin and about to become nonexistent.
  3. You must be proactive whenever possible and not reactive.

An experienced Veterinary recruiter can help with all three of these points.

Julea: How can a recruiter help with these areas, specifically?

Stacy: An experienced Veterinary recruiter can identify qualified candidates quickly and recruit those candidates. They can convince them to consider their client’s employment opportunity. A recruiter can also help keep the candidates engaged and also help to close their client’s top choice at the end of the hiring process.

The bottom line is that employers can NOT just sit back and wait for Veterinary talent to come to them. It’s not going to happen. Instead, they have to be proactive and they have to act with urgency.

Julea: Stacy, this is also overwhelming evidence that the job market is hot for Veterinary talent. What’s your advice for those in our listening audience? What should they do?

Stacy: There are many things they can do.

First, professionals should be open to at least talking about an opportunity if one is presented to them, by a recruiter or by someone else. If a recruiter is presenting an opportunity, it’s has the potential to be better than the job they have right now, so it is a good idea to consider it.

Second, they should be open to exploring an opportunity, especially if that opportunity is better than the job they have at the moment. It’s important to remember, just because you explore an opportunity does NOT mean you have to actively pursue the opportunity. And even if you pursue an opportunity and receive an offer from an employer, you are not bound to accept that offer.

Third, animal health and veterinary professionals should increase their networking efforts. This is very important. You never know who knows what . . . or who knows who. Networking is one of the best ways to keep on top of the employment marketplace and advance your career. This is especially important for women. I just read an article today talking about how men do more networking than women and how it gives women a disadvantage in the job market. So, if you are a female you may need to improve your networking skills. It can’t hurt.

Fourth, animal health and veterinary professionals should consider conducting a passive job search. In a passive job search, you give your resume to an Animal Health or Veterinary recruiter and inform them of the types of positions that you would be interested in. That way, the recruiter will consider you when they come across an opportunity that matches your criteria. There are a lot of benefits associated with this kind of search. For example, you can focus on your current job, while also positioning yourself for career growth at the same time.

Julea: Well, it certainly seems as though there is a lot of opportunity for those working in the Animal Health and Veterinary profession and especially the Veterinary profession right now. All of this is great advice to take advantage of these opportunities that are out there.

Stacy: Yes, but people must be willing to take advantage of it. They must be willing to explore the opportunity, and if it makes sense for them to do so, to pursue it.

Julea: Stacy, this is such great information you shared about increasing pet ownership and the ever-growing demand for Veterinary talent. And for those people who are considering a job change or open to opportunity, there are animal health jobs and veterinary jobs posted on The VET Recruiter website and new position are added on a regular basis. We encourage you to check those out and check back often.

Stacy: Yes, there are Julea. For those listeners who want to change their current situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite them to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. If you are an Animal Health or Veterinary employer needing to hire top talent I also encourage you to reach out to us to talk with us about we might be able to help you find the people you need.

Julea: Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It is my pleasure Julea, nd thank you. I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!