How to Better Understand Your Compensation as a Veterinary Technician, Part 1 - Vet Relief Staffing | Veterinary System Services

How to Better Understand Your Compensation as a Veterinary Technician, Part 1

It’s a topic covered in veterinary publications, discussed in countless online networking groups, and talked about in social circles all the time: Veterinary technicians should get paid more. We work too hard to have to work more than 40 hours per week just to make ends meet.

But, your hourly rate is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your compensation. So, do you fully understand the details of your compensation package? The better you understand your total value to your clinic, the better you can negotiate a more competitive compensation. Here are four facts to consider when looking for a job or negotiating a raise.

Uncle Sam’s cut

Imagine you are an employee making $17 per hour and working 40 hours per week. Your total hourly compensation is $35,360 per year. In addition to the taxes taken out of your paycheck, your employer also pays:

  • A tax “match” for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), and federal and state unemployment taxes, which in your case amount to roughly $2,700 per year (
  • State taxes of approximately $1,100 per year
  • Workers’ compensation coverage—usually between 0.3% for a clerical position and 7.5% for a manufacturing position—let’s say veterinary medicine falls around 5%, which would be $1,770 per year

This is $5,570 per year more than your salary to employ you, which equates to $2.70 more per hour than your hourly wage. Your $17.00 per hour is now $19.70 per hour, and that doesn’t account for the costs associated with recruitment, management, or other costs of maintaining employees (human resources, etc.).

Why does this matter? Isn’t this just the cost of doing business? Sure! However, if you were a contract employee working relief on your own, you would be responsible for the additional taxes and coverage because… someone must pay the government. (See: IRS Employer Responsibilities.)

The benefit of benefits

Next, consider a few aspects of your benefits package. What does it cost to your employer? And, what is it worth to you?

On top of your $17.00 per hour, the following benefits could apply:

  • A 3% match for retirement: $1,061 per year
  • Health insurance premiums: $6,896 per year
  • Dental insurance premiums: $420 per year
  • Vision insurance premiums: $100 per year
  • Uniform allowance: $100 per year
  • Licensure allowance: $125 per year
  • Continuing education allowance: $200 per year
  • Two weeks of paid time off: $2,000 per year
  • Pet insurance premium for one pet: $780 per year

Which of the of the above benefits does your employer offer? Have you ever considered the cost of these benefits to your employer? What is the value of these benefits to you? Do the math: Your employer may only pay $6,700 for your health insurance premium, but if you had to buy this on your own, what would you have to pay for your coverage? Maybe your spouse has you covered, so that benefit isn’t as important to you.

In this case, the total cost of the employee’s benefits is $11,682 per year, or $5.62 per hour, which brings the total hourly cost to $25.32 for this employee.

Know your worth

Recent studies have shown that a well-leveraged veterinary technician can bring in $90,000 per year or more for the practice. Are you well-leveraged? Are you efficient in your work? How much value do you bring to your practice?

Write out your job description, and examine your responsibilities, commitments, and previous reviews. Ask your manager to help you track your contribution to the business. Bring ideas to your manager on how you could be better utilized, how you could bring in more revenue for the practice, and how you can measure your contribution. Only when you know your value to a practice will you be able to intelligently negotiate your compensation.

Compare the fruits

Apples, oranges, or kiwis? When you are the eligible candidate courting multiple companies for your full-time position, make sure you’re comparing the proverbial apple-to-apple scenario.

One employer may offer you $20 per hour, but isn’t offering an attractive benefits package, while another may be offering you a lower hourly rate but is providing more benefits, and a third may want to hire you as a contract employee at $30 per hour, but leaving you responsible for the full cost of employment. Which is the best option for you? Use this calculator to understand the total compensation offered with each package, and remember annual compensation divided by 52 weeks per year equals weekly compensation. Weekly compensation divided by 40 hours per week will give you hourly compensation.

$52,665.60 / 52 = $1,012.80 per week

$1,012.80 / 40 = $25.32 per hour

Look at the benefits that are, in fact, beneficial to you. Look at the hourly rate and any other perks side by side, and think carefully before you make your final decision.

It can be frustrating and intimidating to discuss compensation with a current or potential employer. Look for the next blog in this series to help you ace that next compensation conversation.

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Katie is a CVT, wife, mother, manager, and adventurous chef. When she’s not working at VSS (or being a mom – work in progress), she’s hiking, traveling, reading, or trying out a new hobby to see if it will stick.