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Everyone tells you not to discuss the salary or package until you have accepted the job, but I found it a bit different for veterinary jobs – at every job interview I’ve had the package has been discussed in depth.
Perhaps you won’t want to necessarily negotiate it until after you’re offered the job, but understand it will almost certainly get discussed. You may even be asked what sort of salary you think you should earn or your ideal package.
For your first job the salary may be low on your list of priorities – support and a friendly team will likely be far more important to you. However, don’t let that mean you can be taken for a mug. It can be very hard as a new graduate to know what is a fair salary/package to expect.
Having a few interviews and talking to your friends will give you an idea of what can be offered.
If you want something solid to benchmark your salary/package against to see if you are getting taken for a ride (or for negotiation purposes), SPVS does a salary survey every year, which is freely accessible to members, or, alternatively, the most recent published results can be purchased by non-members, which is worth the money if it means you can negotiate a couple of grand extra to your salary.
The graduate schemes tend to have standard packages that are fixed – take it or leave it. Whereas the packages offered by independent practice can vary wildly and, therefore, are more negotiable.
Try to think about what your ideal package would include, and any tax implications that may come with those. For example, practice-provided accommodation or an accommodation allowance is usually tax free, whereas a company car provided for work and private use will incur a large monthly tax bill.
Don’t be put off by a low-sounding salary if you’re given accommodation or other benefits, as these can often more than make up for the apparent disparity.
Nearly all practices will pay for VDS (or equivalent professional indemnity cover) as standard on the practice policy, but they can vary in the provision of other professional memberships such as the BVA, BEVA, the BSAVA and the BCVA. If your practice pays your MRCVS fees, this is also worth a reasonable amount to you.
Other benefits that may be included could be cycle to work schemes, childcare vouchers, private healthcare and gym discounts.
Components of the remuneration package to consider are:
- OOH rota, including time off in lieu of working weekends/on call
- Days worked (4-day week/4.5-day week)
- Be wary of half days – talk to other staff, do they actually get their half day? Would you only get your half day if fully staffed?
- What happens if someone is ill, does the rota get reduced or do they get locums in?
- Vehicle/allowance – what are the tax implications?
- Mobile phone
- CPD allowance – both days and value
- Holidays (and any specific requirements, such as no holidays during calving season or only full weeks can be taken as holiday)
- Bank holidays