Is Veterinary School As Lucrative As It Used to Be?

Posted by Erin McDade
How much do vets make?

Have you ever wondered, "How much do veterinarians make?"

Veterinary medicine is a financially secure discipline, with an average salary that rises gradually with each year of practice, placing many veterinarians well over the national average. You must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from a veterinary school and not just a bachelor's degree to be a registered veterinarian. Other factors affecting a veterinarian's salary range, in addition to years of experience, include the type of practice, geographic location of the animal hospital, and whether the DVM is a partner or an associate. Of course, not all places pay the same wage to veterinarians.

How Much Do Vets Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a veterinarian makes a median wage of $93,830. Veterinarians with the highest pay receive $162,450, and those with the lowest income earn $56,540. 25th percentile veterinarians make about $79,000 annually, and 75th percentile veterinarians make about $126,000 annually. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 67 percent of veterinarians earn between $60,000 and $150,000 a year, putting the average veterinarian salary well within livable wages.

According to Fobes, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, Alaska, and Texas are the top ten states for annual veterinarian salaries. The states that pay veterinarians the least are Arkansas, Nebraska, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Wyoming. However, the cost of living can also skew the results of the median salary payscale, meaning that some vets working in low-paying states may also have more disposable income.

Vet Starting Salaries

Most veterinarians specialize in one type of animal, and earnings are determined by the kind of veterinary practice in which you work. The American Veterinary Medical Association discovered several differences in starting salaries based on specialization.

Domestic pets such as dogs, cats, and small animals such as rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters are examples of companion animals. The majority of veterinarians work in companion animal veterinary clinic practices. Small animal veterinarians earn an average annual salary of $87,000, according to the 2019 AVMA Economic State of the Veterinary Profession. Some veterinarians represent more than one animal type, and these are referred to as mixed animal veterinarians. Mixed practice veterinarians earn an annual starting salary of $75,000 a year.

The starting salary for large animal-exclusive veterinarians is about $75,000 a year. These veterinarians are sometimes referred to as food animal vets (those who manage farm animals such as cows and pigs), zoological, or exotic animal vets. Equine veterinarians (those who handle horses) start at just over $50,000 a year. These are the least popular and least well-paid vets in the United States, though they can charge higher prices if they offer the only equine care in the area. Many equine veterinarians often serve as mixed animal veterinarians.

Research, Education, And Non-Profit Vet Salaries

Veterinary professors make an average of $120,000 a year. Discoveries in animal care allow more sustainable treatment of diseases and disorders. The same can be said for animal treatment. Vet researchers make an average of $110,000 a year. Non-profit rescue agencies often hire vets, who receive an average annual salary of about $90,000 a year.

Private Practice and Commercial or Consulting Vet Salaries

Private practices typically specialize in the form of veterinarian work. Vets who work with companion animals usually make the most money. Mixed animal veterinarians are generalists who receive an average annual salary of $100,000. Commercial and consulting vets earn the most money, with a yearly salary of $160,000 on average. There are for-profit practices that specialize in one of the above veterinary specialties. The analyst is the second-highest-paid vet, earning about $150,000 a year on average. These veterinarians will treat animals while also providing advice to other professionals in the industry.

Government and Military Vet Salaries

Veterinarians working for the federal government or the armed forces earn about $100,000 a year on average. These veterinarians also deal with dogs, such as therapy or security dogs. State and local agencies need veterinarians for their law enforcement dogs and other animals that are essential to government service. Additionally, veterinarians are required to assist with diseased animals at local government-funded animal control facilities. With an average annual salary of $100,000, these vets do just as well financially as federal and military vets.

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Is Veterinary School As Lucrative As It Used to Be?