Explaining earnings variation of bovine veterinarians in private practice
Bovine veterinarians are needed to protect food animal protein supplies, prevent losses due to disease, and protect public health: society needs these services. It is also important that economic incentives exist for, and are understood by, practitioners that serve the food animal industry. Surveys of American Association of Bovine Practitioners members were examined to explain variation in bovine veterinary earnings in private practice. We estimate the systematic variation in earnings due to practitioner characteristics. Results communicate expected earnings levels and variation across bovine veterinarians in private practice based on observable individual attributes and characteristics. These results communicate, in context of the survey questions, what the market for bovine veterinary services values. Bovine veterinarians are compensated more for specializing in a species within the food animal industries and owning their practice. The volume of animals seen is important, and bovine veterinarians should look to practice in areas with large concentrations of animals. Numbers of clients attained are not important, whereas numbers of animals serviced are. Further, gaining experience is more important than additional education or certifications beyond the doctor of veterinary medicine degree. However, there remains a large unexplainable variation in earnings models. This unexplained variation is likely due to unobserved and unmeasured ability/effort effects within each individual and it is thought, but not tested, that higher quality veterinarians earn more. Future salary surveys need to attempt to measure these deep human capital attributes.