Becoming a Veterinary Office Manager: Salary & Job Description

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A veterinary office manager's mean annual salary is around $33,000, but is it worth the education requirements? Read real job duties and see the truth about the career outlook to decide if becoming a veterinary office manager is right for you.
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Veterinary Office Manager: Pros and Cons

Veterinary office managers make sure the office, clinic or hospital runs smoothly, allowing veterinarians and animal care staff to focus exclusively on the health of the animals. Learn the pros and cons of becoming a veterinary office manager before investing the time and money into the education.

Pros of a Career as a Veterinary Office Manager
An increase in the demand for quality pet care will increase the need for skilled managers in veterinary offices*
Certification is available to enhance resume*
Veterinary hospitals, clinics and offices are in many locations**
Increased responsibilities as more office work is automated**

Cons of a Career as a Veterinary Office Manager
Requires a good balance of empathy and professionalism***
Repetitive and routine work**
Education requirements vary by employer**
May interact with upset customers**

Sources: *Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, **U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, ***Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona.

Specific Career Information

As a veterinary office manager, your responsibilities would be very similar to an administrative assistant or office manager. The responsibilities will vary depending on the office. In some offices, the manager may schedule appointments, handle correspondence, patient charts, human resources, billing and vendors. In other offices, managers may have separate employees to handle those responsibilities, and they oversee the work of those employees.

Salary and Job Outlook

Although there is no specific listing in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) specifically for a veterinary office manager, the mean salary for a medical secretary is around $33,000 annually, as of May 2014. Additionally, the BLS reports that employment for secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to grow by 12% between 2012-2022; however, medical fields are expected to see a higher than average increase (36%). According to the most recent data available from the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, veterinary medicine will also see a higher demand as more people seek quality care for their pets and non-farm animals.

Education and Essential Skills

The education requirements for a veterinary office manager are not specific. As technology increases and repetitive duties are automated or outsourced, responsibilities of managers will be more administrative and require more education and training. Equivalent veterinary office experience can sometimes take the place education. An associate degree in management can provide the basic skill set needed for an entry-level career in veterinary management.

While education requirements vary, the necessary skills don't. Managers interact daily with patients, doctors, employees and vendors, which requires strong communication skills. Managers need good time management, organization and observation skills. Strong reading and writing proficiencies are also recommended. A manager should have ample computer knowledge (software and hardware) and experience.

Actual Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers seeking veterinary office managers are looking for candidates that have management experience and a working knowledge of a veterinary office. Here are some actual job postings from March 2012:

  • A veterinary practice in Louisiana is searching for a practice manager. The successful candidate will have one to seven years experience and a 4-year degree. Responsibilities will include mediating staff problems, accounting and hiring.
  • In Maryland, an animal hospital is seeking a practice manager with one to seven years experience, knowledge of how a veterinary office works and a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Responsibilities will include supervision of other employees and support functions of the hospital.
  • A Massachusetts employer is hiring a certified practice manager with one to seven years experience. Candidates with a 4-year degree and veterinary office experience are preferred. The manager will be responsible for the general management of the office including hiring and staff training.

How Can I Get an Edge in the Field?

Get Certified

A good way to get an edge in veterinary management is to get certified. The Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) is the highest level of certification available for veterinary managers. This professional certification shows employers that you have the skills needed to manage their facility.

Requirements for Certification

The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association requires you to have active employment as a practice member three out of the past seven years, 18 college credits in management, 48 hours of continuing education in management and four letters of recommendation in order to take the certification exam. Recertification is every two years.

Similar Fields to Consider

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

If you're looking for a career that has more interaction with animals, then you might consider a career as a veterinary technologist or technician. The technologist assists the veterinarian in providing medication, taking medical histories, taking laboratory samples, feeding, and sometimes basic care. A technician usually performs lab work. A technologist requires a 4-year degree and a technologist requires a 2-year degree. Many states also require an exam and licensing. The BLS reports the mean annual salary in 2011 was around $32,000. The job outlook is considerably higher than average with 52% growth expected between 2010-2020.

Animal Control Worker

An animal control worker investigates all cases of suspected animal abuse. They track, trap and remove animals that are injured, abused and uncontrolled from many places and situations; sometimes with the use of drugs to sedate the animal. The control officer also is responsible for community education about animal laws and regulations and care for animals that they have taken into custody. Officers will need a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. The annual mean salary for these workers is around $34,000, as of May 2011 according to the BLS..

Animal Trainer

The person attending to the training of dogs at a dog show or horses prior to a race is an animal trainer. The trainer observes the animal's action, behavior, physical condition and reports any problems to the animal's medical staff. The trainer can administer medication and take care of all training needs for the animal, including exercises preparing for training programs. The career requires a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent and work-related experience, such as direct work with the type of animals to be trained and cared for. The BLS reports the mean annual salary for animal trainers is $31,000 as of May 2011.

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George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
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American University

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Kaplan University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
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Grand Canyon University

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  • BS in Health Care Administration

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Northcentral University

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  • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
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  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
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University of Delaware

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