So, What Do You Make? Results of the 2014 American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Salary Survey
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015

Tara M. Harrison1, DVM, MPVM, DACZM, DACVPM; Ryan Colburn2, DVM; Lauren Howard3, DVM, DACZM

1Department of Clinical Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA; 2John Ball Zoological Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI, USA; 3Denton A. Cooley Animal Hospital, Houston Zoo, Inc., Houston, TX, USA


In 2014 a salary survey was sent out to membership of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV). Out of 899 AAZV members, 122 members participated (13.5%). The last survey of this kind was completed in 2007.1

For comparison purposes, the mean starting salary of newly employed veterinary graduates was $67,136 in 2013 and mean educational debt was $162,113.2

Of the survey respondents, the majority were employed at institutions with an annual budget greater than $10 million, with the second most common budget $3–$10 million. The majority of veterinary budgets (including employee salaries) were reported as greater than $200,000, with the second most common response being $100,000–$200,000. The most common institution collection size was between 500–999 animals, not including invertebrates. Most veterinarians were supervised directly by a director or CEO. The majority of institutions employed two full-time veterinarians. Only 1% of institutions employed an on-site pathologist. Twenty-one percent of institutions employed a contract veterinarian for either less than 10 hours or more than 20 hours/week. Eighty-one percent of institutions employed a full-time licensed veterinary technician, with the majority employing two veterinary technicians. The most common salary for full-time veterinarians was $65,000–$79,999 (range of $50,000–$155,000+). The second most common salary was $80,000–$94,999. The majority of respondents had less than $50,000 student loan debt at graduation, with the second most common debt load being $75,001–$100,000. Most full-time zoo veterinarians worked between 41–50 hours/week; the next most common response was greater than 50 hours/week.


The authors thank Drs. Ed Ramsay and Doug Whiteside for their involvement in the development of the survey and this abstract. We would also like to thank Adine Nicholson for her help with the development and management of the survey website, and Rob Hilsenroth and the rest of the AAZV executive board for their insight into the survey. We would also like to thank the American Association of Zoological Medicine members who completed the survey.

Literature Cited

1.  McCain S, Ramsay E. 2007 North American zoo and aquarium veterinary employment survey. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2008;39(3):293–297.

2.  Shepherd AJ, Pikel L. Employment, starting salaries, and educational indebtedness of year 2013 graduates of U.S. veterinary medical colleges. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013;243(7):983–987.


Speaker Information
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Tara M. Harrison, DVM, MPVM, DACZM, DACVPM
Department of Clinical Sciences
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC, USA

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