Comps & Benefits Survey Reveals State of the Animal Welfare Workforce

The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is excited to release the results of the 2021 Biennial Compensation & Benefits Survey, since 2003 the only one of its kind designed with the knowledge and skills unique to animal welfare. And this year’s report is especially meaningful. Says Jim Tedford, President & CEO of The Association, “This survey is the first since COVID transformed what it means to be an employer, and the first to focus closely on diversity in animal welfare.”

The just-published Executive Summary will be shared with members of The Association and organizations who met data-entry requirements last year, as well as organizations purchasing access to the Comps & Benefits survey tool. Those who don’t receive a complimentary copy can purchase one on our website. The 15-page report represents data from 203 organizations across the United States and Canada, reporting Fiscal Year 2020 data. The majority—42%—are nonprofit animal welfare organizations without animal control contracts. 

Sample Notable Findings

  • The 2020 median annual budget among those surveyed is $3 million.
  • The 2020 median annual employee turnover rate is 38%, compared to a 57.3% national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Although animal sheltering involves direct care and many jobs require work on site, 67% of organizations offered the option to telecommute or work off-site in 2020. In comparison, according to a 2020 survey by Global Workplace and Analytics and Owl Labs, 69% of U.S. employees worked remotely at the peak of the pandemic.
Graph representing population served; 26% of participants surveyed provide services to communities of 1 million to 10 million

New This Year

With the urgent global movement for social justice and economic equity, this year’s survey was amended to include questions about race, gender and equality. For example, participants reported:

  • A median 2% of full-time employees at the organizations surveyed are disabled.
  • A median 2% of employees identify as queer/non-binary.
  • A median 3% of employees are Asian.
  • A median 4% of employees are African American.
  • A median 8% of employees are Latina/Latino.

We are grateful to all participants for sharing their data. A wealth of reports are available in the Compensation & Benefits Survey tool, an online benchmarking platform and comprehensive resource designed to give on-demand insights related to compensation and benefits across nearly 70 animal welfare job descriptions. If you’ve missed out on free access to the tool, it’s not too late to participate. Whether you’ve already signed up but not submitted data, or are completely new to the survey, you can still obtain detailed salary data and run comparative benchmarking reports, as well as submit your organization’s data. Learn more here


The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


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