Managers outperform inflation in 2011

Hospital managers and administrators outperformed inflation, but worked longer hours in 2011, according to new survey results from the Veterinary Hospital Manager’s Association (VHMA).

The VHMA recently released results from the 2011 Survey of Compensation and Benefits for Veterinary Managers, a bi-annual study that examines factors impacting compensation. The 2011 survey was distributed to 1,441 VHMA members; 160 responses were returned.

Read more on the biannual survey below.

From the VHMA:

The survey examined characteristics such as type of practice, years in practice, location and more and evaluated their effect on the level of compensation and benefits for office managers, practice managers and hospital administrators.

Comparing 2011 wage information with data from the 2009 report reveals that annual salaries increased for all but office managers. This good news is followed by a more sobering development: Every type of manager worked longer hours in 2011, reflecting calculated hourly rates that grew at a slower rate than salaries. According to Darren Osborne, MA, an economist working with the VHMA, "Adjusting for the consumer price index that grew 5 percent since 2009, salaries of hospital managers and administrators outperformed inflation, but this gain is negated when the longer hours are factored in. Higher salaries divided by longer hours results in lower hourly wages in 2011, compared to 2009."

Impact of Experience and Seniority on Salary

Experience is what makes higher salaries, and the VHMA found that experience has a positive impact on compensation, with a caveat. Generally, salaries increase with experience, but Osborne notes, "practice managers reported a drop in median salaries for managers with more than 10 years’ experience. Because this group reported fewer hours worked annually, when hourly wage was calculated, these managers showed an increase in hourly wage." Although hospital administrators with more than 10 years experience reported higher salaries, the gains were offset by working more hours annually. According to Osborne, "Seniority has little to do with determining salaries but did affect hourly wages, which increased with seniority."

A Matter of Degree (and Credentials)

Office managers with postsecondary education earned significantly higher salaries than those with no formal credentials. Practice managers who earned the CVPM certification reported the highest salaries and calculated hourly wages. Median salary for CVPM accredited practice managers was $10,000 higher than for practice managers without formal credentials. Hospital administrators with CVPM certification, university and postgraduate degrees all earned higher-than-average salaries.

Other Factors and Their Impact on Salary

Osborne reviewed a number of factors, which, according to the survey, influenced compensation, including:

  • Number of hospitals managed
  • Number of staff managed
  • Job description that outlines responsibilities and obligations
  • Location of practice, with Texas and California managers reporting the highest annual salary

    Vacation Time and Benefits

    In general, two weeks seemed to be the average vacation time for all managers, with practice managers and hospital managers earning more vacation time with seniority. Overall, more hospital administrators received benefits than practice managers, and office managers received the fewest benefits. Insurance benefits and discounts have remained flat since 2009, and in some cases were reduced or even eliminated. Continuing education fees and paid days for continuing education were benefits that increased conspicuously.

General Trends

As Osborne noted, "Practice managers and hospital administrators have enjoyed salary increases since last surveyed in 2009 while office managers have seen their salaries decrease. All managers have seen the number of annual hours that they work increase. Furthermore, a detailed examination of the survey results shows that managers are now performing more tasks outside their traditional job descriptions than they have in previous years."

Lesson Learned

Given the economic climate, the news about salaries and compensation for managers is generally positive. For managers who are interested in improving their level of compensation, certification and advanced degrees are essential. As the data indicates, employers are making continuing education benefits available to staff, and employees with advanced degrees and certification command higher salaries. Managers should also strive to provide progress reports and updates to supervisors to ensure their contribution to the organization is well documented. Above all, keep in mind the importance of demonstrating your worth in a tough economy by being proactive in showing how skills have a positive impact on an organization.