Compensation Is Not Just About Salary

by Apr 28, 2022Personal Finance

There can be many versions of how you get rewarded for your work. In many cases you will have a sign-on bonus, base salary, and production. Unfortunately, when looking at new opportunities, we tend to overlook the benefits employers offer. Benefits are essential for your well-being and your development as a veterinarian. 

Each company or practice is different. Some might have a laundry list of benefits, while others may not have any. 


Here is a list of benefits that might be provided: 

  • Continued Education stipend and paid time off (PTO) to attend conferences
  • Insurance (health, dental, vision, disability, life, etc.) 
  • Retirement (401k, 403b, SIMPLE-IRA, etc.)
  • Vacation Days
  • Sick Days 
  • License Reimbursement (state license, DEA registration, etc.)
  • Membership Reimbursement (AVMA, state VMA, VIN, etc.)
  • Holidays
  • Pet Care Discounts (including pet insurance)
  • Relocation stipend
  • Student Loan Repayment

All of these benefits have a dollar value to them that you’ll want to consider when selecting a job. The salary should not be the only driver of your decision. If your employer covers many of these benefits, you will not have to pay for them out of pocket. 

Here is a comparison between a job offer with a higher salary but limited benefits and one with a lower salary but better benefits:

  High Salary/Low Benefits Low Salary/High Benefits 
Salary $140,000.00 $130,000.00
Health Insurance -$1,500.00 -$600.00
Disability Insurance  -$600.00 -$200.00
Life Insurance -$60.00 $0.00 (100% covered)
Dental Insurance  -$60.00 $0.00 (100% covered)
Net after Insurances $137,780 $129,200
Days Off  10 15
Days Off (dollar value)  $5,384.62 $7,500
Retirement Plan Match 3.00% 6.00%
Retirement Money $4,200 $7,800
Student Loan Repayment $0.00 $5,250
CE Allowance $1,500 $3,000
Total Salary + Benefits $148,865 $152,750


In this example, the job with the higher salary actually pays less once benefits are taken into account. 

But what if the two practices are in completely different locations?

Cost of Living

If you’re considering moving to a different part of the country, do a little research. Use a cost of living calculator to get an idea of how much your salary should increase depending on where you would live. 

Using our example from above, what if there is a difference in cost of living? Let’s say the higher-paying job is in a higher cost of living area than the lower-paying job. 

According to the calculator, the cost of living difference is 20%. Now what would make financial sense? 

Compensation in High Cost of Living Area $152,750
Cost of Living Difference 20%
Comparable Compensation $122,200

In this case, the comparable compensation ($122,200) is much lower than the other offer ($148,865) once cost of living is taken into account. 

When comparing salaries, make sure to do your research before accepting the highest offer.


Willie Bidot, DVM, DACLAM

Meredith Jones, DVM