How Much Do Roo Relief Vets Make?

Ross Zimmerman
December 18, 2023

From shift cards to hospital profiles, we’re all about transparency here at Roo because we believe that, armed with the right knowledge, no one can make a better decision for you than, well, you. So it’s time for this purple kangaroo to put our money where our mouth is, literally, so Roo vets can learn exactly how much they can expect to make from their relief shifts.

Our hope is to give you a good sense of what kind of money you can make working as a relief veterinarian in your home city — or any Roo location you feel like traveling to for that matter. If you’ve got the license, we’ve got the shifts.

We crunched the numbers, did the math (it wasn’t very hard math), and gathered some great data from 2023 to share with you today. Cue bird’s-eye view bar graph!   

veterinarian average hourly wage by state - Roo vs. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How much money do vets make?   

First thing’s first, let’s throw down some baseline facts:  

  • $62.07 per hour is the mean national hourly wage for veterinarians in 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While these are probably the most accurate numbers, they’re not the most current, so--
  • $79.58 per hour is ZipRecruiter's estimate of the average veterinary wage as of December 11th, 2023 based on job postings and other data.
  • $135.45 per hour is the average wage for Roo relief vets nationwide in 2023!

That means you can make roughly one-and-a-half to two times as much per hour working relief through Roo than you can in a traditional full-time role. I told you, it wasn’t very hard math. 

The average Roo veterinarian shift pays $1,241 for 9 hours of work, which isn’t bad for a day’s work.

That said, there are other factors to consider when it comes to working relief, specifically regarding where some of that extra money is going. The biggest is taxes, which can crash the party, but only if you’re unprepared.

All the numbers you see above are pre-tax — even the full-time wages, if we’re being fair. However, as a full-time veterinarian, taxes come out of your pay directly, so you’ll see a lower take-home salary. With Roo, you’re an independent contractor, which means we don’t take taxes out of your pay, you get the whole thing! Your paycheck is gonna feel HUGE, but pump the brakes a little — you’ll still have to pay taxes on that income at some point, so we recommend setting money aside for tax season. 

We can help with that! For all our great tax resources and info, head on over to our Tax Center, which should answer most of your questions.

The next big thing to consider is how often you want to work. That’s the beauty of relief work: the power is in your hands. Transparency is nothing without autonomy.   

Roo beats or bolsters the average veterinarian salary  

How much does a Roo Vet make a year? Well, that’s up to you.

Roo’s set up so you’re free to use the platform however you want. This means some vets use Roo to work as a full-time relief vet while others only use Roo to add extra income by picking up relief shifts here and there. This makes it hard to estimate an average relief veterinarian salary that’s meaningful because that number depends on how you use Roo. What we can share is what’s possible:

First off, let’s set that baseline: the average annual veterinarian salary nationally in 2023 is estimated at $165,527 by ZipRecruiter. The AVMA and Bureau of Labor Statistics both show average vet salaries around $130k annually with actual data from 2021-2022.

In 2023, the top-earning Roo relief veterinarians earned over $200k while a few earned nearly $300K! Again, almost double (I can keep doing this math all day), but there’s a few more things to consider: I think it’s safe to assume these particular vets are probably working relief full-time, so what does that mean for you?

Health benefits

If you’re working relief full-time, you won’t get health benefits from your employer like you would as an associate vet employed by a clinic. This means you’ll be responsible for getting your own health insurance. Guess what? Roo can help with that too, thanks to our partnership with Stride Health

The cost of health insurance varies based on your age and where you live. For a 30-year-old, you’re looking at roughly $427 per month for an HMO or $512 for a PPO. If you’re in your 40s, you’re looking at $480 a month for an HMO and $576 for a PPO (according to Forbes). That comes out to around $5000 - $7000 a year. This will put a dent in your Roo income, sure, but it’s a pretty small dent given we’re looking at nearly double wages here. With the average Roo shift paying $1,241, you’ll cover your healthcare for the entire year with about 5 to 6 shifts.

We will confess, it feels not-so-great to pay that much out of pocket for something you normally wouldn’t have to. Nobody bats an eye when taxes and healthcare get deducted from your paycheck automatically, but having to actually pay those bills — it leaves you feeling kinda bleh. That’s something to consider when making the decision to work relief full-time. With great independence comes great responsibility, you’ll have to plan ahead so these bills don’t catch you by surprise.

Of course, if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting individual health coverage, you can always take a full-time veterinarian job, giving you the benefits you need, and work relief on the side to bolster your income whenever you like. Win-win. No stress, no mess.  

The cost and benefits of work-life balance

Relief vets have the freedom to work as much or little as they want, which means balancing free time with the amount of money you’d like to earn in a year, especially if you go the full-time relief route. 

With Roo’s higher hourly rates, you could earn the equivalent of a full-time salary with a lot more time off while paying your own health benefits and taxes. Earning nearly twice as much an hour means you only need to work about half as much to earn that same amount (you guys, I’m on math-fire today). 

So what’s the annual salary of a Roo veterinarian? It can be anything you want, it’s up to you to show us what’s possible. Though if we’re being honest, for us it’s less about how much you earn and more about how happy you are.

How much do Roo vets make in my city?

Alright, we’re good on background; let’s dive a little deeper. What does this mean for you? The best way to see what you can expect to earn as a Roo vet is to break these numbers down by the cities we live and work in. 

veterinarian average hourly wage by city - Roo vs. ZipRecruiter

When we break it all down by city, it’s easy to see how much you can expect to make working Roo shifts and how that compares to the hourly pay of full-time vets in your area. We used ZipRecruiter’s higher numbers for comparison here because we thought that’d be the cool thing to do.  

Of course, these are just averages. You can see exactly how much you’ll make for every vet shift we have available by signing up for Roo or simply logging in. Our goal is to arm you with the knowledge you need to succeed, so we’ll also let you know how long the shift is, break the pay down hourly so you can quickly compare rates, and give you lots of other details like how many appointments you should expect to see. Transparency is kind of our thing, remember?  

All this data includes boosted shift prices, which pay out at higher rates and bring these averages up, so if you’re looking to make an even bigger chunk of change, keep an eye out for those top-rate opportunities, which can get over $2,000 for a single shift! These are hospitals who need help urgently, so you’re actually doing them and Roo a huge service by picking these shifts up. And of course, average full-time wages may be higher or lower based on your specific experience, skill-set, speciality, and hospital.  

If you’re looking to become a traveling relief veterinarian, the above bar graph can let you know what to expect in new cities you might be traveling to. However, we highly recommend choosing destinations you want to visit and not letting pay drive this decision. Cost of living tends to fluctuate with these wages, so if hourly rates are lower, you can generally expect things like food, rent, and entertainment to be cheaper in that city too. It all balances out in the end so do what makes you happiest.      

Roo veterinarians earn more working less

The numbers don’t lie, and the message is clear: Relief veterinarians are in high demand, and this is reflected in their pay. It’s a premium service for hospitals that fills a (sometimes desperate) need. It’s no wonder Roo relief vets can make nearly double the hourly wage in many cities. 

As always, relief work is what you make of it. A relief veterinarian may be able to earn more per hour, but if you work fewer hours, your annual salary will reflect that. It’s not about how much you earn (it never has been), and it’s not about how often you work, it’s about striking the balance that’s right for you.

The high hourly veterinarian wages you see above only represent an opportunity. For some vets, Roo can help pay off student loans a bit faster or build up savings for a first home while keeping the job security and benefits a full-time veterinarian job provides. For others, relief work offers an escape from the traditional way of doing things where vets can earn more and control their own schedule for greater work-life balance. However, they’ll need to be comfortable being independent and managing their own taxes and benefits. 

Whatever you choose, do what’s best for you. Roo’s just here to help.

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