Of all the trends within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, one of the most prevalent is the desire to move from clinical Veterinary practice to the Animal Health industry. This is a trend that started several years ago and has remained pervasive ever since.

As a recruiter and search consultant in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession for 25 years, I’ve experienced this trend first-hand. In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) conducted a study in 2020 regarding this trend. According to the study, at least 25% of veterinarians in clinical practice want to find a job outside of practice.

Within the Animal Health industry, there are eight main types of companies. They include the following:

  1. Pharmaceuticals
  2. Vaccines
  3. Medical Equipment
  4. Medical Supplies
  5. Pet Foods
  6. Insurance
  7. Laboratory/diagnostic services
  8. Laboratory supplies/equipment

There are a number of reasons why Veterinary professionals want to move from clinical practice in the Veterinary profession to the Animal Health industry, including the following:

  • Looking for a new challenge (want to broaden skills)
  • Disillusionment
  • Allergies
  • Injury
  • Partial retirement
  • Better compensation/benefits
  • Better quality of life
  • More flexibility

No matter the reason for making the switch, something to keep in mind is that employers want to hire people who have positive reasons for change and not negative ones. (So be careful what you say during the telephone screen or face-to-face interview.)

There are also a few other things to keep in mind. First, working in the Animal Health industry means you might be working further from animals, and this means in a physical sense. When you’re in practice, there are animals everywhere, all the time. Not so in the Animal Health industry. Some people enjoy working directly with animals on a hands-on basis. However, if you work in industry, you likely will not be hands-on with animals every day.

Second, even though you won’t be in physical contact all the time with animals, you might have more of an impact on their lives by working in the Animal Health industry. That’s because you’ll be in a position to make decisions that could have more wide-range implications. This is another consideration for people who are contemplating making the switch.

And third, there is more competition in the Animal Health industry for the jobs that are available. On the Veterinary practice side, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity and a lack of qualified candidates to fill open positions. In fact, according to the job board site Zippia, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession has dropped from 1.0% in 2013 to about 0.2%.

In addition, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in September of 2022, veterinarian jobs are expected to grow by 19% between the years 2021 and 2031. (And for the purposes of the BLS numbers, we’re talking about veterinarian jobs, which means the people who are eligible to fill the positions have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.)

Adding to the competition is the fact there have been and continue to be mergers and acquisitions in the Animal Health industry. When a merger or acquisition occurs, companies don’t need two of each department. As a result, they reduce redundancies and lay people off. This means there are more candidates—and more competition—for the Animal Health jobs that do exist.

But if the prospect of more competition does not deter you and you’re determined to make the switch from clinical Veterinary practice to the Animal Health industry, then below are five tips for doing so:

#1—Build an appropriate resume.

This resume should include your name, contact information, and job history in reverse chronological order, starting with your current position. It should also include skills and experience, special abilities, honors and awards, and groups or associations to which you belong. As far as length is concerned, your resume should be no longer than two pages long.

#2—Network, network, network!

It is vital that you engage in some form of networking, which might open up opportunities for you. For instance, you can talk with sales reps who come into your practice or other contacts you already have in the industry.

#3—Attend industry meetings.

Talk with exhibitors and speak with other people in the Animal Health industry who are doing the job you would like to have. A good way to approach this would be to invite them to lunch and ask if you can talk with them. If that’s not feasible, set up a telephone call or Zoom call, but make sure that it’s a time that is convenient for them.

#4—Join the AAIV.

This stands for the American Association of Industry Veterinarians. When you become a member, you’ll have the opportunity to attend networking events at Veterinary conferences. I cannot stress enough how important networking is in terms of your career.

#5—Build and develop a relationship with an experienced recruiter.

First, choose a recruiter who is both experienced and reputable, because not all recruiters in the job market fit those criteria. Second, choose a recruiter who specializes in the Animal Health industry and has placed people just like you within the industry.

When should you establish a relationship with a recruiter? Long before you need one! You never know when you might need a recruiter. You could be happily employed right now, but who wouldn’t want to know about a better opportunity?

Your relationship with a recruiter is one of the most critical relationships you will have as you navigate your career. That’s because recruiters can open doors for you. They have more contacts with hiring managers than you could ever have. Not only that, but the most sought-after jobs are not posted on the Internet. Many of them can only be obtained through a recruiter, and that includes jobs in the Animal Health industry.

So, if you’ve decided that you want to make the move from clinical Veterinary practice to the Animal Health industry, make sure that an experienced and reputable recruiter is part of your professional network!


(Stacy Pursell is a Certified Personnel Consultant and a Certified Employment Retention Specialist. She is a workplace/workforce expert with 25 years of executive search and recruiting experience in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. For more information about Stacy’s firm, The VET Recruiter, visit www.thevetrecruiter.com.)