How Much Do Veterinarians Make?

July 9, 2021

Choosing a career can be really hard to do. There are so many factors to consider, like how much do vets make, how to become a veterinarian, how much does vet school cost, or how long does it take to become a veterinarian? 

The best way to decide is to learn as much as you can about the veterinarian career and possibly job shadow if you can get a realistic feel of what the profession would be like. 

Many people become interested in possibly becoming a veterinarian because they have a deep love for animals. Working as a vet is a great way to express that love as you'll get to care for animals day in and day out. 

How Much Do Vets Make?

Overall, veterinarians do very well financially. They have one of the highest-paying jobs in the nation. This is partially due to the fact that veterinarians have very specialized expertise. Vets also have to undergo lots of schooling, training, and clinical work in order to become vets. Both of these things add to the value of their expertise and thus the value of their work.

How Much Do Veterinarians Make a Year?

How Much Do Veterinarians in the lower 10% Make?

$58,080 per year

How Much is a Veterinarians' Median Salary?

$95,460 per year

How Much Do Veterinarians in the highest 10% Make?

$160,780 per year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make a Month?

How Much Do Veterinarians in the lower 10% Make?

$4,840‬ per month

How Much is a Veterinarians' Median Salary?

$7,955 per month

How Much Do Veterinarians in the highest 10% Make?

$13,398 per month

How Much Do Veterinarians Make a Week?

How Much Do Veterinarians in the lower 10% Make?

$963.6‬0 per week

How Much is a Veterinarians' Median Salary?

$1,958 per week

How Much Do Veterinarians in the highest 10% Make?

$3,038.40 per week

How Much Do Veterinarians Make an Hour?

How Much Do Veterinarians in the lower 10% Make?

$24.09 per hour

How Much is a Veterinarians' Median Salary?

$48.95 per hour

How Much Do Veterinarians in the highest 10% Make?

$75.96 per hour

Veterinarians Pay by Location

How Much Do Veterinarians Make in Texas?

$125,280 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make in California?

$116,440 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make in Florida?

$97,490 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make in NYC (New York City)?

$120,580 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make in Ohio?

$110,110 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make in New Jersey?

$125,110 a year

Veterinarians Pay by Experience

How Much Do Entry Level Veterinarians Make?

$73,964 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make with 1–4 Years of Experience?

$78,796 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make with 5–9 Years of Experience?

$86,612 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make with 10–19 Years of Experience?

$90,212 a year

How Much Do Veterinarians Make with 20 or More Years of Experience?

$95,041 a year

How Much Do Companion Animal Veterinarians Make?

How much do companion animal veterinarians make?

$110,000 a year

These are the types of veterinarians that work with pets, like dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, or rabbits. A companion animal vet might work in a vet clinic or a vet hospital. These vets help treat and take care of our household pets and help pet owners know how to best take care of their beloved pet's physical wellbeing. 

How Much Do Livestock Vets Make?

How much do food animal veterinarians make?

$100,000 a year

A food animal veterinarian takes care of livestock and other farm animals that are being raised as a food source. Because the animals they work with are to become a food source one day, food animal veterinarians have the very important job of making sure they are healthy, sickness-free, and safe for public health. This means they might also work as food safety and inspection veterinarians to make sure livestock are being treated according to health codes and prevent and control animal diseases. 

How Much Do Research Veterinarians Make?

How much do research veterinarians make?

$122,268 a year

Some veterinarians work conducting research about animals, diseases, treatments, and cures. They might also work on research related to public health and safety and disease control amongst animals and people. 

How Much Do Vet Techs Make?

How much do vet techs make?

$28,900 a year

Vet techs have very versatile jobs. In many ways, they are similar to the medical technicians that work in human hospitals and clinics, except they specialize in working with animals. Vet techs assist veterinarians in all their work. They help conduct tests, administer treatment, and assist vets during surgery, dental care, and even sometimes grooming. Vet techs are also qualified to operate machinery and medical tools to perform necessary tests and treatments. 

How Much Do Vet Assistants Make?

How much do vet assistants make?

$26,100 a year

A veterinary assistant performs many of the same functions that a veterinary technician can do, but vet techs are usually qualified to do even more and operate more veterinary equipment. Vet assistants will often help give the animals staying at the clinic the care they need. Vet assistants monitor animal patients, clean and change bandages, and help handle animals during checkups and procedures. 

How Much Do Zoo Vets Make?

How much do zoo vets make?

$85,278 a year

Veterinarians can also work at zoos! These types of veterinarians need to be knowledgeable about all the kinds of animal species you find in a zoo. This means they need specialized knowledge and skills in a wide variety of wild and undomesticated animals. Zoo vets might provide dental care, surgeries, vaccinations, regular physical exams, disease prevention, and treatment, and help determine the animals' diets and feeding schedules. 

How to Become a Veterinarian

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

In order to get into veterinary school and become a veterinarian, you'll need to first get a bachelor's degree. Some vet schools might not require a bachelor's degree, but many vet schools accept applications from prospective students that already have a bachelor's degree. 

Your chances of getting accepted increase if you get a bachelor's degree in a subject related to veterinary medicine. This includes courses in science, biology, chemistry, math, humanities, social science, and animal science. 

To increase your chances of being accepted into a great vet school, it also helps if you have some experience working and volunteering in the veterinary field. You can find this type of work by helping vets at veterinary clinics, by getting experience with farm animals, or by volunteering at an animal shelter. 

Step 2: Get a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree

Once you have the qualifications that will get you into a veterinary college, you can start working on getting your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree. The veterinary program you attend will need to be from a college that is accredited for teaching veterinary medicine. 

At vet school, you'll learn all about animal anatomy, animal physiology, diseases, diagnosis, treatments, and other veterinary practices. Most veterinary programs will have their students spend the first 3 years taking classes and the fourth year doing hands-on work in clinical rotations. 

Step 3: Become Licensed to Practice with the State

When you're ready to start practicing veterinary medicine, new vets must first become licensed with the state they work in. 

Getting licensed as a veterinarian in the United States consists of completing an accredited veterinary program and then passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Some states will also require vets to pass another state licensing exam. 

The veterinary licensing exams will test your knowledge as a veterinarian and test your knowledge of laws and regulations that all vets must know. 

The Best Veterinarian Schools

Finding the best vet school is important. You need to receive the proper education in order to be a successful veterinarian and you need an accredited veterinarian program in order to get licensed to practice in the first place. 

  • University of California, Davis
  • Cornell University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Texas A&M University
  • Michigan State University
  • Michigan State University
  • Ohio State University

Veterinarian schools are highly competitive. When applying for vet schools be sure to look into the requirements they each have so you can do your best now to meet them. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Veterinarian?

To become an entry-level veterinarian on average takes about 8 years including the time it takes to get a bachelor's degree and complete a typical vet program. 

The road to becoming a vet can take more or less time though, depending on how long it takes to complete each program, and if you decide to undergo an accelerated program. By taking an accelerated program some vets can take as little as 6 years to complete their veterinary schooling, while the longest career paths to becoming a vet can take up to 12 years

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Veterinarian?

How much you spend on becoming a veterinarian is going to all depend on which schools you decide to attend and how long you take completing each program. Some students might also receive scholarships and grants that can help pay their tuition for their bachelor's degree and/or veterinary school. 

On average though, the total cost of becoming a vet is about $135,000 with $44,000 being the low end of the spectrum and $320,000 being the higher end of the spectrum. 

To become a veterinarian you will need to pay for tuition for both a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 4-year veterinary program. Shop around at the schools you like to compare tuition prices before you decide where to spend your money. 

What Do Veterinarians Do?

Veterinarians work primarily in animal health, but they sometimes work to protect public health as well where animals are concerned. They help keep animals healthy and treat animals who aren't to help them get better. Veterinarians are the doctors, surgeons, nurses, dentists, and medical practitioners of the animal world. 

They work in many settings like clinics, hospitals, schools, labs, zoos, reserves, animal sanctuaries, and farms. This means that some vets have to travel outside their place of work to administer their veterinary expertise to animals on-site. 

A career as a veterinarian can be equally rewarding and trying. Vets care for animals, help save their lives, and keep them happy and healthy. But vets also care for animals with more serious cases. Some animals have to be euthanized or otherwise don't survive, and this can be emotionally stressful for the veterinarians involved. 

When considering a career as a veterinarian, remember that you will be working with animals, yes, but you will also be working with all the highs and lows that a doctor or nurse in any field might have to deal with. 

  • perform regular checkups
  • diagnose health problems
  • make treatment plans
  • perform surgeries
  • perform teeth cleanings
  • administer vaccines
  • take x-rays
  • prescribe needed medication
  • euthanize animals where necessary
  • dress and bandage wounds

The daily life of a veterinarian consists of giving our pets checkups, making diagnoses, administering medications and treatments, and performing medical research and lab tests. 

Veterinarians do a lot of the same things that human doctors do, but for animals. Vets, therefore, specialize in animal anatomy and physiology. Some vets specialize even further in the types of animals they treat like vets that work with farm animals vs pet animals. 

Skills Veterinarians Need

Communication:

Veterinarians often work alongside their coworkers to provide animals the medical care and treatment they need. In order to work well as a team, vets need effective communication skills. Vets also communicate a lot of important information to pet owners who need to know what's going on with their animals and how to take care of their pets at home. 

Compassion:

Like any medical profession, the career of a veterinarian requires compassion. The medical field can involve many sad days and happy days, so vets need adequate compassion to deal with the sad days when they come. For instance, vets need compassion when they have to tell a pet owner some bad news or when they go to euthanize a family pet that is old or sick. 

Dexterity:

Vets need physical dexterity to perform certain checkups, treatments, surgeries, and to deal with animals who are scared and not cooperating. Vets will sometimes need to practice holds and quick techniques so they can safely handle squirmy animals without hurting them or frightening them more. 

Problem Solving:

Vets come across many unique problems working with animals. Because of this vets need to have keen problem solving, analytical, and decision-making skills. This will help them to tackle any new scenario that comes their way and figure out solutions to problems like how to administer a pill to a frightened dog. 

Physical Stamina:

Veterinarians work with their hands. They have to manually lift animals onto the examination table, help hold animals down to administer their shots, and spend much of their day on their feet. This can be a real bonus for anyone that doesn't wish to spend their entire workday sitting behind a desk, but it does mean vets need a certain amount of physical strength and stamina to get through a typical day. 

Pros and Cons of the Veterinary Profession

Like any other profession in the world, a career as a veterinarian comes with its own pros and cons. It's up to you to decide whether these costs and benefits are worth it for you. 

Overall, the costs of becoming a vet can be high but a career as a veterinarian can be an extremely rewarding profession. 

Vets get to work with their community, with people, and with all kinds of animals every day. The work you do each day is always different and often comes with new and interesting challenges. Vets also often have the opportunity to enjoy a lot of professional independence in their practice. Many vets end up starting their own clinics and find a lot of success working for themselves. Not to mention working closely with animals is any animal-lover's dream. 

But just because you love animals, that doesn't mean becoming a vet is the best for you. Vets have to do a lot of the dirty work when it comes to animal care. Most pets don't love going to the vet, meaning vets end up dealing with animals that bite and scratch and growl. 

Becoming a vet can also be very competitive and expensive, but the potential for job growth, professional independence, and high salaries might outweigh any doubts in this area for you. 

Similar Occupations to Veterinarians

Does a career as a veterinarian intrigue you, but seems to be not quite what you're looking for in a job? Then you might be interested instead in any of the following related professions. These jobs are similar to the veterinary profession in some way like their field of expertise, workplace environment, or pay. 

Some of these jobs work with humans while others still work with animals. You might find that you’re interested in the medical field but would rather work with humans rather than animals. In that case, you could work in the field of human medicine.

Or maybe you are more interested in animals, but you don’t want to deal with the medical aspects of being a veterinarian. There are plenty of other animal-related jobs in the world that don’t involve medicine that you could also choose from to get your animal-loving fix.