The average veterinarian salary is about $ 100,000, but this amount can vary depending on location, type of practice, and more. The starting salary for veterinarians can be much lower, which can be discouraging after the eight years of schooling normally required for the position. Even so, being a veterinarian can be rewarding and rewarding.
Read on to find out what factors affect veterinarian salaries and how to decide whether to invest in this career choice.
How much do veterinarians earn?
When it comes to salaries, being a veterinarian is a lot like any other industry. You can earn more or less in this career area depending on where you live, how many years of experience you have, and whether you have your own practice. The industry in which you work as a veterinarian can also make a big difference, as well as whether you have a specialization.
Veterinarian starting salary
Industry experience inevitably plays a role in the starting salary of veterinarians. After all, having more experience in any field usually means you can get higher wages and higher benefits.
Figures from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the bottom 10 percent of veterinarians earn an average of $ 60,690. Meanwhile, the poorest 25 percent of workers report an average veterinarian salary of just $ 79,430.
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) data shows similar trends, reporting that the median compensation for veterinary school graduates in 2019 was $ 70,045 as of the latest report, up from $ 65,983 in 2018.
Where you live also plays a huge role in how much you can earn in this area of your career, and it’s true whether we’re talking about a veterinarian’s starting salary or earning for those with a lot of experience.
For example, the following states reported the highest average veterinarian salaries in BLS data:
- New Jersey: $ 128,430.
- Maryland: $ 128,120.
- Washington, DC: $ 127,310.
- Rhode Island: $ 126,630
- Oregon: $ 122,840
In some metropolitan areas, the salary of veterinarians is much higher. For example, veterinarians in the Houston, Texas metropolitan area earn an average salary of $ 169,220, while veterinarians in the Bridgeport, Connecticut area earn $ 150,370. Other metropolitan areas with generous average veterinarian salaries include:
- Akron, Ohio: $ 150,330.
- Ogden-Clearfield, Utah: $ 150,310.
- Modesto, California: $ 149,460.
- Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina-South Carolina: $ 148,900.
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Washington DC-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia: $ 146,900.
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida: $ 145,380.
- Santa Maria Santa Barbara, California: $ 145,140.
- Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: $ 144,560.
Of course, you can get a lower wage if you live in an area with minimal demand or a lower cost of living. For example, veterinarians who live in the College Station, Texas suburbs earn an average salary of just $ 73,040, while veterinarians in Manhattan, Kansas earn just $ 61,520.
The type of practice you work in can also play a huge role in how much you can earn as a veterinarian, and this is true no matter where you live. BLS data show the following average earnings for veterinarians across the country under various conditions:
- Colleges, universities, and vocational schools: $ 89,900.
- State government excluding schools and hospitals: $ 93,810.
- Livestock Support: US $ 95,950.
- Federal executive: $ 97,370
- Other personal services: $ 99,860.
- Social Welfare Organizations: $ 101,250.
- Employment Services: USD 112,600.
- General and surgical hospitals: US $ 122,470.
- Management, scientific and technical consulting services: US $ 126,000.
- Specialty hospitals: $ 154,310.
Should you become a veterinarian?
While veterinary medicine may seem like a calling if you love animals, it’s still important make sure becoming a veterinarian is worth it… After all, veterinary medicine programs are not cheap and you have to pay for that college education after you pay to get your bachelor’s degree. You should pay special attention to the cost of veterinary care if you rely on student loans to finish school.
According to AVMAThe high program costs mean that the average veterinary school graduate debt is typically around $ 150,000. However, more and more graduates are entering the profession with a debt burden exceeding $ 400,000.
The problem can also get worse. AMVA data shows that 10.7 percent of 2019 graduates dropped out of school with over $ 300,000 in student loan debt, up from less than 1 percent prior to 2013.
After spending eight or more years in college, you can also be out of work longer, which means you can get stuck in a catch-up game when it comes to achieving financial performance such as student loan repayment or buying a house.
Before you get into veterinary medicine, it is important to make sure you understand the high cost of higher education, as well as the opportunity cost of spending so many years in college. Earning a high salary can help you when it comes to reimbursing your student loan payments, but it’s important that you love your job even with a potentially lower starting salary.
The salary range of veterinarians is wide, but that is why it is good take into account the return on investment involved in obtaining a veterinarian degree; and potential alternatives.
Loving animals is a good reason to go to veterinary school, but that alone is not a reason to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make a repayment plan before taking out a veterinary school loan and you will be better prepared for employment.