Veterinarians: Salary Overview
Veterinarians diagnose, treat, and research illnesses and medical conditions of animals.
They also have an important role in protecting public health.
A veterinarian’s job description typically includes examining animals to assess their medical condition, treating injuries, performing surgery, testing and vaccinating animals against diseases, performing x-rays and other investigations, advising owners about how to care for their pets, prescribing medication and euthanizing animals.
Veterinarians have different specializations depending on the type of animals they treat and the type of operations they perform.
Companion animal veterinarians work in hospitals or private clinics where they treat dogs, cats, and other pets.
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Food animal veterinarians treat farm animals such as cattle, sheep, and pigs.
Veterinarians can specialize even further depending on the type of operations they perform and the organs that they treat.
Some veterinarians specialize in treating animal eye problems, others specialize in diagnosing and treating skin problems, others specialize in internal medicine, radiology, or surgery.
Food safety and inspection veterinarians test livestock and animal products for animal diseases and provide vaccines, conduct research, and enforce food safety regulations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for veterinarians was $95,460 as of May 2019.
The median wage is the number that splits the salary distribution in half which means that half the workers in this profession earned less than this amount and half earn more.
Salaries for veterinarians vary widely depending on the industry of employment and their specialization but also based on the veterinarian’s experience, education, and the type and the region of practice.
According to the numbers published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent made less than $58,080 per year, while the top 10 percent earned more than $160,780 per year.
Veterinarian Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians held about 84,500 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them (78%) being employed in the field of veterinarian services.
Approximately 14 percent of all veterinarians were self-employed workers while 3 percent worked for the government.
Social advocacy organizations and the field of educational services hired only about 2 percent of all veterinarians.
Their biggest employer, the field of veterinary services, offered a median annual salary for this profession of $95,500, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Veterinarians who worked for the government made a median annual wage of $90,500.
The numbers published by BLS show that veterinarians who worked for social advocacy organizations earned, on average, $97,010 while those who worked in the field of educational services made, on average, a little over $80,000 per year.
The highest average annual wage was reported by veterinarians who were employed by specialty hospitals.
Only 30 veterinarians were employed in this field but their average annual salary was $151,880.
Some veterinarians also receive additional compensations, such as commissions, bonuses, and overtime pay and these can supplement their total income with several thousands of dollars a year.
Veterinarian Salary by Level of Experience
The level of experience is an important factor in determining a veterinarian’s salary.
According to payscale.com, entry-level veterinarians with less than 1 year of experience made an average annual compensation(including commissions, bonuses and overtime pay) of $73,964 while those who have more than 20 years of experience earned, on average, $95,041 as of May 2020.
The same report shows that veterinarians who have 1-4 years of experience made, on average, $78,796 a year.
Mid-career veterinarians (those who have between 5-9 years of experience) earned an average total compensation of $86,612 while those who have between 10-20 years of experience made $90,212, on average.
In conclusion, having experience as a veterinarian definitely pays off but there are also other factors that influence a veterinarian’s salary, including his/her specialization, the region of employment, and the type of animals they treat.
According to a report by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2019 cited by thebalancecareer.com, the starting salary for small animal vets was $87,000 a year while the starting entry-level salary for large animal vets (also known as food animal vets) was $75,000 a year.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Veterinarians. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.