Why the Demand for Veterinary Professionals is So Urgent Right Now

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

In a recent newsletter article, I discussed how pet ownership is increasing in the United States. I also touched upon the fact that pet owners are spending more on Veterinary care. In fact, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) is predicting that pet owners will spend close to $19 billion on Veterinary care alone this year.

So it should come as no surprise that the Veterinary occupation is growing right now. In fact, it’s growing more quickly than other occupation in our country.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certain occupations within the Veterinary profession are set to grow at a rate of 19% during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. As a means of comparison, the average projected growth rate for all other occupations is only 7%.

What does that mean in terms of jobs? That means when all is said and done, there will be over 50,000 more jobs in the Veterinary profession in 2026 than there were in 2016. That might sound great, but right now, it presents a problem. The reason is presents a problem is that the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession has been hovering right around 1% for the past 18 months or so.

So what’s going to happen when 50,000 more positions are created within the Veterinary profession? Are there going to be that many new candidates to fill those positions? To put it bluntly, the answer to that question is “No.” There simply are not enough new graduates to keep pace with the growth that the profession is currently experiencing and will experience in the future.

Before we proceed, let’s identify which occupations within the Veterinary professions are part of these projections. According to the BLS, the occupations are as follows:

  • Veterinarians
  • Veterinary technologists (or Veterinary technicians)
  • Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers

So the question becomes this one: how many jobs are going to be added to each of these occupations between 2016 and 2026? (Of course, we’re already three years into this 10-year span, so some jobs have been added already. However, with seven years left, there is still plenty of room for growth.) Once again, the BLS has the answer to this question:

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

Put all of those numbers together and what do you get? A total of 51,700 new jobs for these occupations within the Veterinary profession. Since we’re considering a 10-year span, that’s an average of more than 5,000 new jobs each and every year, and since we’re three years into the decade, that means 15,000 jobs have already been added. It also means that at least 35,000 new jobs have yet to be added.

Now, there is no doubt that the demand for Veterinary talent is urgent right now. By some estimates, there is only one qualified candidate applicant for every five job openings open within the profession. That should tell you how scarce the talent is. However, how much more scarce is it going to become during the next seven years? If the BLS predictions referenced above continue to come to fruition, the answer could be extremely scarce! 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.

How urgent will it be for employers then?

This is a question that Veterinary organizations and practice owners and managers must ask themselves. This is not the kind of situation for which you can fail to plan. There’s too much at stake, namely the long-term viability and success of your organization or practice. And this is precisely why I recommend that employers are proactive when it comes to hiring and their workforce management efforts. I’ve written articles before about how the margin for error is exceedingly thin for employers in this current candidates’ market. That’s the case not only for the country at large, but it’s also especially the case within the Veterinary profession.

And as you can see, it’s going to be even truer in the future. In fact, the margin for error for Veterinary employers won’t just be razor-thin. For all practical purposes, it will be non-existent. Employers simply will not be able to make mistakes during the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process. If they do, then they will not be able to hire the candidates they want to hire. And if these growth projections hold true for the Veterinary profession, then they may not be able to hire anyone at all.

One thing is certain: time is of the essence. At this point, the market for Veterinary talent is NOT going to loosen up unless possibly if we go into a recession. Qualified candidates are not just going to start flooding the market. Circumstances are only going to become more challenging, not less so. And since time is of the essence and you need to be more proactive in terms of hiring, now and in the future, partnering with an experienced Veterinary recruiter is a strategic move. Doing so gives your Veterinary organization or veterinary practice a competitive edge.

An experienced Veterinary recruiter knows who the top candidates are. Not only that, but they’ve also spent time building relationships with those candidates. They know what those candidates want and they know the circumstances under which those candidates would make a move for another employment opportunity. Remember these three key points:

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

An experienced Veterinary recruiter can help with all three of these points. They can identify qualified candidates quickly and recruit those candidates to convince them to consider your employment opportunity. Then, once the candidates are part of the hiring process, the recruiter can help keep the candidates engaged and also help to close your top choice when you reach the end of the process.

You can’t sit back and wait for talent to come to you or post job ads and wait for candidates to respond. Instead, take the steps necessary to ensure your present (and future) success by hiring the top talent in the Veterinary profession.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1.By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2.By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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