Veterinarians: What You Need to Know if You Want to Move From Clinical Veterinary Practice to Industry

By Stacy Pursell, CPC/CERS
The VET Recruiter®

As an executive recruiter and search consultant, I have the opportunity to talk with professionals and employers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession on a daily basis. Because of the large number of people, I talk with on a weekly basis, I have knowledge of what is happening in the marketplace and the trends that are occurring and might start to develop in the future.

And I can say with absolute certainty that one of the biggest trends happening right now is that there are many veterinarians working in clinical practice in the Veterinary profession who are looking to make a transition from clinical practice to the Animal Health industry. In fact, this has been a trend for the past several years, and it currently shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the AVMA conducted a study last year that showed at least 25% of veterinarians in clinical practice want to find a job outside of clinical veterinary practice.

Considerations for making the transition to industry

There are a number of reasons why professionals want to move from clinical practice in the Veterinary profession to the Animal Health industry. Some of the major reasons including the following:

  • Looking for a new challenge (want to broaden skills)
  • Disillusionment
  • Allergies
  • Injury
  • Partial retirement
  • Better compensation/benefits
  • Better quality of life
  • More flexibility

Regardless of the reason that you want to move from practice to industry, it’s important to keep in mind that employers want to hire people who have a positive reason for change, including looking for a greater challenge. Here are two more things to keep in mind:

#1—Working in industry means you might be working further from animals.

What does this mean? If you work in industry, you may not have the chance to work directly with animals on a daily basis. For some people who work in the Veterinary profession, they enjoy working directly with animals on a hands-on basis and that is important to them. This factor should be part of your decision-making process because in industry, you’ll likely not be hands-on with animals every day.

#2—You might actually impact more animals by working in industry.

While you might not be working with animals on a hands-on basis, you might make more of an impact on animals by working in industry. That’s because you’ll be in a position to make decisions that could have more wide-ranging implications. As you can see, there’s a trade-off. You can’t get something without giving something up, and vice-versa.

Keeping all of this mind, it’s equally important to explore what is currently happening in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

The state of the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession

Let’s start with the Veterinary profession, which I’ve addressed before in our articles and blog posts. Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession was anywhere between 0.5% and 1.5%. While the pandemic has certainly changed some things about the job market and the employment marketplace e, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is not much higher than it was before COVID-19 began.

And while some things have changed in the Animal Health industry because of the pandemic, there are some things that have not changed. One of those involves mergers and acquisitions, which have continued since the pandemic started. For example, one Animal Health company acquired another Animal Health company in August of 2020, and after that happened, unfortunately more than 900 people were laid off. One of the things that happens with acquisitions is that companies don’t need two of each department and they reduce redundancies. However, that sometimes leads to employees being overworked, and when that happens, they may start looking for a new job.

So, when you consider what is happening in both the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, there are two things happening at the same time. Because of the mergers and acquisitions, there are experienced professionals who are in the market looking for other employment opportunities in the Animal Health industry. In addition to that, there are also veterinarians working in clinical practice who are looking for opportunities in the Animal Health industry.

This all adds up to the job market in the Animal Health industry being very competitive. While there may be job openings and employment opportunities available in the Animal Health industry, the competition for those openings and opportunities is fiercer than, say, the competition for job openings in the Veterinary profession.

The difference that leverage makes

In clinical practice in the Veterinary profession, in many cases the candidate holds the majority of the leverage in a hiring situation. That’s due to the fact that there are many job openings and not enough qualified candidates to fill those openings. That’s not the case in the Animal Health side. Since there is so much competition for the job openings that are available in industry, candidates do not hold quite as much of the leverage.

Because of this, you must keep in mind that you might have to make sacrifices to land a job in the Animal Health industry, and I have an example that illustrates this. I was recently speaking with a Veterinary professional who wanted to get a job in industry. This person had the opportunity to do just that, but he didn’t want to relocate, and because of that, he didn’t get the position.

So, if you’re looking to make the move from practice to industry, not only must you acquire whatever skills are necessary to make yourself as valuable as possible and the best candidate you can be, but you must also be flexible and meet the requirements of the employer. That may require being willing to relocate for the position.

And if you’re looking to make the move from Veterinary practice to the Animal Health industry, then this is something that you must keep in mind while you conder it.

If you’re looking to make a change or explore your employment options, then we want to talk with you. I encourage you to contact us or you can also create a profile and/or submit your resume for consideration.

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.