How Much Do Veterinarians Make?
Veterinarians provide medical care for animals - including pets, farm animals, and livestock. Similar to other doctors, veterinarians must complete many years of education, however they also have the potential to make a high salary. In fact, the median annual salary for veterinarians is $90,420, which equals an hourly wage of $43.47. Various factors can affect what you could earn as a veterinarian. Not only does the pay vary in different states, but your expertise, area of specialization, and level of education also plays a part in how much you could make as a veterinarian.
Take a look at the different salaries for some of these careers, as well as those for the related careers of vet techs and vet assistants, and then keep reading to learn more details about these figures and more!
|Job Title||Median Salary|
Veterinarian Starting Salary
Median Salary: $67,136
The starting salary of a veterinarian can depend on what type of practice you work in and what kind of animals you work with. The median first-year salary for a companion animal vet was $69,712. Large animal veterinarians, such as those who work with cattle and other food animals, earned an average starting salary of $76,740. However, vets who specialize in equine practice started out at $47,806 per year.
Veterinary Surgeon Salary
Median Salary: $91,582
A veterinary surgeon specializes in performing surgical procedures on animals, including operating on muscles, bones, joints, heart tissue, and even brains. After earning their veterinary degree, veterinary surgeons must complete additional training that includes a year as an intern and a 3-year residency program. After accomplishing all that and passing an exam, you can become a board-certified veterinary surgeon.
The salary range for this position is wide, with most reported salaries landing between $44,000 and $160,000 annually. Individual pay is based on location and whether the surgeon specializes in a certain type of procedure, such as trauma wounds, oncological surgeries, or joint replacements. The median salary for all veterinary surgeons is $91,582.
Veterinary Nurse Salary
Median Salary: $49,699
Veterinary nurses serve in a similar capacity as regular nurses do, assisting doctors in the treatment of their patients. In the veterinary field, nurses help update animal health records, analyze samples, review test results, and assist in treating animals and performing medical procedures. The median hourly wage for nurses in a veterinary clinic is $15.89, which equals a median annual salary of $49,699.
Veterinary Ophthalmologist Salary
Median Salary: $84,489
Veterinary ophthalmologists specialize in diagnosing and treating eye conditions in animals, such as glaucoma, ulcers on the cornea, and cataracts. Board certification in this area requires four additional years of study and hands-on experience after acquiring a degree in veterinary medicine. If you choose to become a veterinary ophthalmologist, you could earn an annual salary upwards of $193,000 or more, depending on where you practice. However, the median yearly salary for veterinary ophthalmologists is $84,489.
Zoo Veterinarian Salary
Median Salary: $77,419
Veterinarians working in zoos give routine and emergency medical treatment to a variety of exotic animals. After obtaining a DVM degree, vets who want to work in a zoo must complete an internship treating zoo animals as well as spend 3-4 years in a residency program. Most zoo veterinarians reported earnings ranging from $30,410 to $147,949 yearly, with an annual median salary of $77,419
Exotic Veterinarian Salary
Vets who specialize in treating birds, rodents, reptiles, and other non-traditional pets work as avian or exotic veterinarians. As with most specialty areas, avian and exotic vets must complete internship and residency programs after they've completed basic veterinary schooling. Many exotic veterinarians work in a traditional animal clinic, providing medical care for more common companion animals, such as dogs and cats, alongside the parrots and other exotic animals they've been trained to treat. Because of this, a specific salary for exotic veterinarian is not available; however, veterinarian salary is affected by experience and the ability to work in specialty areas.
Veterinary Pharmacist Salary
Veterinary pharmacy is a fairly new area of the industry. Only a handful of universities offer classes that focus on the veterinary aspect of pharmaceutical-grade medications, and there are only about 100 individuals currently working in the position in the U.S., and these positions are mostly in veterinary schools. Most vets currently rely on traditional pharmacies with compounding capabilities to fill prescriptions, so specific salary data for veterinary pharmacists is not available. However, the annual salary was for pharmacists in general (which includes those who fill prescriptions for animals) was $124,170 per year.
Veterinary Technologist & Technician Salary
Median Salary for Veterinary Technologist: $38,365
Median Salary for Veterinary Technician: $31,028
If you're interested in an animal care career but aren't as interested in the many years of education, you could also consider becoming a veterinary technologist or veterinary technician. Veterinary technologists perform a range of tasks in animal clinics, including taking x-rays, handling blood testing, and giving vaccinations. These individuals usually have a 4-year bachelor's degree in veterinary technology and must also be state certified and/or licensed. The median annual veterinary technologist salary is $38,365.
Although a veterinary technologist will spend two more years in school than a veterinary technician, their median annual salaries are fairly close. Veterinary technicians earn a median annual salary of $31,028.
What's more, the industry in which they work can also affect how much veterinary techs can make:
|Industry||Median Annual Salary|
|Animal advocacy organizations||$33,080|
|State, local, and private universities, colleges, and professional schools||$40,480|
Veterinary Assistant Salary
Median Salary: $26,140
Veterinary assistants help veterinarians care for animals and do some of the basic work that vet techs do. Generally, with a high school diploma, you can get on-the-job training to become a veterinary assistant. The median yearly veterinary assistant salary is $26,140, which equals an hourly wage of $12.57. However, veterinary assistants can find work as animal caretakers in places other than veterinary clinics and where they work affects how much they can make.
|Industry||Median Annual Salary|
|Animal medical and care services||$25,600|
|Research or R&D (engineering, physical, or life sciences)||$31,140|
|State, local, and private colleges, universities, or professional schools||$37,000|
Veterinarian Salary by State
Veterinarians in different states earn different pay based on factors like the cost of living and the need or demand for vets. This table shows the average salary of veterinarians for each state:
|State||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|District of Columbia||$60.15||$125,100|
All salary statistics come from the American Veterinary Medical Association (2013), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2107), the Society of Veterinary Hospital Pharmacists (2017), and PayScale.com (2018).