Veterinarian Salary

What is a veterinarian?

Veterinary salaryThis is a doctor who has specialized in the treatment of animals with there being 3 basic categories that a veterinarian can choose to practice in.

  • Large animal—this focuses mostly on farm animals such as sheep, cows, horses, and goats.
  • Small animals—this focuses mainly on dogs and cats but some choose to specialize in small exotics like hamsters and guinea pigs.
  • Exotic—this focuses on taking care of any animal at the zoo from lions to giraffes and some may even have private practices to see lizards and snakes.

A veterinarian can also go into a specialty like physicians do when they are taking care of the human body.

Job description of a veterinarian

To give a good job description of a veterinarian will depend on what subspecialty they choose after deciding which category they are going to major in. Some veterinarians will be general practice veterinarians while other may choose a subspecialty of orthopedics, oncology, radiology, and more. Some of the general things that a veterinarian will do is provide basic surgery, vaccinations, setting broken bones, spay and neuter, well pet exams, treating kidney failure, treating bacterial and viral infects, treating abscesses, and the least favorite of many veterinarian is to euthanize an animal.

Being a veterinarian you will also need to know how to operate medical machinery like an X-ray machine because unlike human patients who you can send somewhere to have X-rays done, a veterinarian will do the X-rays in the office. They also have the equipment to develop the X-rays and a machine that enables you to see what is on the X-ray. A veterinarian can also educate animal owners on their pet’s feeding needs, why their pet is acting as they are, how to take care of them when they are brought to the office and have been diagnosed and given a treatment plan. They can also get a license to allow them to prescribe medication.

How to become a veterinarian?

Some experts recommend that the first step you should take in becoming a veterinarian is to build up a lot of practice by doing volunteer work at a veterinarian’s office or being a member of 4H. To increase your chances of getting into an accredited college for veterinary medicine you should have as many as 6 years of volunteer work. After graduating high school you will need to work on your bachelor’s degree preferably in a related field like math, science, zoology, animal science, biochemistry, or biology. There are few veterinarian schools so it is important to also have a high GPA. There are only 28 veterinary schools in the United States that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The application process varies from one school to another to get into veterinarian school. You can check with the American Veterinary Medical Association as to what requirements are needed to be admitted to a veterinarian school in the United States. On their website you can find a lot of valuable information as how to apply to a veterinarian school, which school to apply to, and what you can expect after applying. To get into the top veterinary schools you should have a passing grade on a Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Most veterinary schools require that applicants use the VCAT exam to be considered for admission to their school. One thing to note is that the entrance exam to get into veterinary schools is one of the toughest to pass and according to statistics it shows that only 35% of the applicants who apply are accepted.

After getting into veterinarian school it will take 4 years of practical training and classroom study before you can apply to become a practicing veterinarian. The first 2 years deals with classroom training in subjects like nutrition, radiology, parasitology, diagnostics, anesthesiology, and surgery. In the last 2 years you will get to examine animals, get valuable experience interacting with pet owners, devise treatment plans, and conduct diagnostic tests. They will also complete different rotations in different veterinary specialties like cardiology, equine care, dentistry, and oncology. The classroom study and practical training will help to prepare you to take the federal licensing exams.

In addition to taking the federal licensing exam you will also have to take the state licensing exam for the state where are going to set up practice. Also during veterinarian school you will have the time to decide if you are going to specialize. If you decided to then you will usually have to do additional schooling. Many veterinarian schools require their students to have work experience in dealing with animals before they can apply to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. To get that needed work experience you can work at an animal shelter, pet store, zoo, etc.

To get your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine you will have to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). This is a test with 360 questions and takes most people 7.5 hours to complete. There are some states you will also have additional requirements to get your license like clinical skills exams and veterinary law. If you decide that you want to have a specialty you have to earn certification through the American Veterinary Medical Associations (AVMA) and the American Board of Veterinary Specialties. The AVMA recognizes 40 different specialties which include surgery, internal medicine, pathology, dentistry, and more. To become certified you will have to complete 3 – 4 more years of specialty training in approved residency program in order to get your certification in that specialty.

Work environment and schedule

Working as a veterinarian you can work almost any place there are animals. Most veterinarians work in animal clinics that are publicly or privately owned and cater to livestock and small companion animals. There are also job opportunities allowing veterinarians to work in research laboratories, zoos, educational institutions, and wildlife parks. If a veterinarian decides to specialize in large animals they usually find themselves on the road a lot traveling to different ranches and farms. When working in government agencies or in research laboratories they are the ones who are responsible for inspecting and the food safety in food-processing plants and slaughterhouses.

Most veterinarians are expected to work any day or time of the week including weekends and evenings. Most veterinarians will work long hours with at least 25% of them working more than 50 hours a week.   This type of work schedule is normally seen in a private clinic that works with small companion animals. Just like an M.D. who treats humans veterinarians often find themselves on call. They may even have to respond to emergency situations on their day off. When working with large farm animals if a horse or cow goes into labor and is struggling to have the baby a veterinarian will have to go where the animal is and helps with the birth, even if it is in the middle of the night.

In addition to taking care of animals if they work in a private or public veterinarian office they will be responsible for putting notes in the animal’s chart as to what brought them to the office, what was the diagnosis, and treatment plan. Some even volunteer to go to elementary schools to talk about various animals and how to take care of them. In high school they may go to career day and talk to students about becoming a veterinary.

What a veterinarian does on a daily basis depends on a variety of factors such as what animals they take care of, what pets come into their private practice and what medical attention they need, etc. Being a veterinarian can be a rewarding career choice as it no two days are the same.

Pros and cons of being a Vet Tech

This career as a veterinarian has its ups and has its downs. Before stepping in getting a job in this field and before going through all the educational process, you should take a look at the pros and cons that accompany this job.

Not to discourage you, but we will start by having a look at the cons that can be found in this field. The major con in this field is the rigorous process that you’ll have to take part before becoming a student in one of the American schools that has gained accreditation from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Enrolling in one of their training programs will require from you to have earned at least 80 credit hours many of them should be in science from a university that has accreditation.

If you are not from the state in which you’ve applied for the admission, and you’ve been accepted to a four-year program, other rules apply. In this case, you shall pay $35,010 or even up to $50,010 per year in tuition and the required fees. The courses at the vet school are difficult and different, and you’ll be learning a lot about many species of animals. This will imply a very technical part, so you’ll have to prove yourself a very good student.

Another con that can affect you is the reality that many of the animals that are brought to a veterinarian clinic can be very sick and in some cases they will die sooner than you’ve imagined. As a Veterinarian, you’ll perform other tasks that might not be that pleasant such as treat infections, deal with blood, perform surgery, and other tasks.

Since the animals cannot speak for themselves, the pet owner’s role is crucial. You’ll have to be very communicative and opened even though not all the pet owners will be that sociable or communicative to you, or they might not even be opened to discussions. You might encounter bad examples of human behavior and some will be rude, or irritated by the conversations you’re having with them. The customer’s service is a huge part of your job, so it’s crucial to maintain a calm atmosphere and try to get along with the pet owners. This can offer you the security that you need to continue with the job.

A massive pro in this career is the opportunity to gain great salary from the job that you do. As a new Veterinarian, you’ll have the starting salary of $50,010 per year with the opportunity to increase it in time. You’ll get to work with a lot of animals, and you’ll have numerous career opportunities and the rewarding experience in this field is huge, saving their lives is a very good pro to start with.

Pets are many times regarded as family members, and there are many great experiences with the pet owners when you’ve saved their pet. You’ll be seen as well as a mentor and a counselor for all the difficult cases.

Veterinarian job growth

The employment rate for veterinarians is projected to grow for the next ten years or so with 12.5% that is about the same average for most of the occupations. The future Veterinarians can expect strong competition for available job positions, especially for those in companion animal care. There still might be less competition in the farm animal veterinary practices.

The best job opportunities can be discovered by those who already possess work experience and those with specializations. This healthy growth in the employment rate indicates that more Americans are getting pets and are very willing to invest in their animal health and care. This field is very searched due to the nature of the job itself, the rewarding that you get after saving a pet’s life and the number of demanding that are gradually increasing over the years. Another factor is the job satisfaction that is very good and the stability that it offers.

There is also an abundance of jobs where you can choose from in the public or the private division, such as private hospitals and clinics, laboratories, classrooms, or other. Some of the veterinarians work even for the government while other tend to travel a lot to farms.

Veterinarian salary

In the United States the average yearly veterinarian’s salary ranges from $47,000 to $116,000 with new veterinarians being on the lower end of the pay scale. There are some who just starting out making only $35,750 a year.

The average yearly veterinarian salary based on years of experience is:

  • $48,326 – $88,054 with 1 – 4 years
  • $49,382 – $103,181 with 5 – 9 years
  • $50,439 – $113,483 with 10 – 19 years

The average yearly salary for veterinarians in these work environments is:

  • $70,000 – $156,00 working in biotechnology research and development
  • $49,665 – $103,704 working in health care
  • $65,000 – $105,879 working at a college
  • $45,000 – $192,438 working in a hospital

There is also a salary difference between women and men. The average yearly veterinarian salary for men is $59,684 – $120,607 and for women $50,668 – $97,943.

Some of the highest states with their average yearly veterinarian salary are:  

  • $92,000 in Mississippi and New York
  • $90,000 – $89,000 in Massachusetts and Washington D.C.
  • $86,000 in Georgia and California
  • $85,000 in Connecticut

Some of the lowest states with their average yearly veterinarian salary are:

  • $74,000 in North Dakota
  • $72,000 in Oklahoma and Kansas
  • $71,000 in New Mexico and South Carolina and Minnesota
  • $70,000 in Colorado and Pennsylvania

In addition to the veterinary salary there is always the benefit package that can go along with the salary if you work for a clinic, zoo, wildlife park, etc. If you have a private practice and have employees you will be the one that is supplying the benefits. Some of the benefits that you might be offered are paid vacation and sick days, life and health insurance that could include the family, 401K, social security, pension, vision and dental care and more. If you work for a veterinary clinic that deals with large animals you may be reimbursed for some of the miles you have to drive to get to the farms and ranches.

Many veterinaries wear uniforms which include scrubs, and smocks. They are usually designed to enhance the level of hygiene that the veterinary office tries to portray. If you work as a veterinarian for a private or public clinic, research laboratory, etc you may have the uniforms paid for or just be reimbursed for part of the cost of the uniforms.

What salary the veterinarian makes depends on many different factors such as their geographical location as in large city or rural area, who their employer is or do they have their own private practice, what type of animals they treat, etc.

Salary of a Vet  in 2015

In the US, the salary of a Veterinarian will often range from $47,080 and $116,010 per year. In 2015, the salary of these professionals will be influenced according to the work experience, the type of employer, by the state in which one is working and the gender.

Those that earn a lot can be found in the scientific research with an average salary that reaches $132,176 per year, followed by pharmaceutical manufacturing, as well as medicine manufacturing and other industries. The number of demanding is still growing, and the opportunities for these specialists are many.

Veterinarian Salary in 2016

In the United States, the year 2016 brings to the veterinarians an average income estimated at around $73,100 per year. The lowest point in the earnings of a Veterinarian is estimated to start at around $50,010 per year and climb up to reach a higher point in the earnings of around $109,010 per year and even higher.

The economic flux in the payment of these professionals is highly influenced by several factors such as the years of experience in the field, the employer, the specialization and let’s not forget the demographic factor-the geographical location.

The bonuses that are granted in this field are estimated to reach up to $14,784 per year while the profit sharing that is attributed are estimated to be comprised between $978 and up to $20,500 per year. The commissions offered for this group are comprised between $2,056 and up to $39,734 per year, this leading at a total higher income right from the start.

The income is also affected as mentioned earlier by various locations, from cities and up to states. For instance, in New York, there are reports of an above the rate salary for veterinarians, being estimated at 25% higher rate than the national average. Great earnings and salary paychecks can also be found in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Charlotte and other. Below the median income for veterinarians you’ll find regions such as Portland and Seattle.

The average income for a veterinarian in Chicago, Illinois, is estimated to be at around $73,700 per year. This job is also affected by certain skills that one might possess, such as in Internal Medicine, Preventative Medicine and Surgery or Medicine. The top paying metropolitan areas that pay a higher income can be found in California, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and other.

Veterinarian salary in Canada, Australia and UK

  • Canada—if they have been in practice 1 – 4 years their average yearly salary would be C$50,335 – C$87,506, 5 – 9 years it would be C$43,631 – C$93,282, and more than 10 years it would be C$43,901 – C$147,949.
  • Australia—if they have been in practice 1 – 4 years their average yearly veterinarian salary would be AU$41,168 – AU$72,966, but a veterinarian who has 20 years or more experience would have an average yearly salary of AU$61,042 – AU$90,000.
  • UK—an entry level veterinarian average yearly salary would be 20,209 – 38,238 along with a bonus up to 10,000. An experienced veterinarian could have an average yearly salary of 23,839 – 60,402 with a yearly bonus up to 3,000.

Conclusion on veterinarian salary

Yes, it does take many years to become a veterinarian and on average the salary starting out can be under $50,000 a year but the more experience you have you will see your salary increasing. Unfortunately the average yearly salary is never high as an M.D. who treats humans. Most veterinarians do not earn an average yearly salary that is more than $125,000. With this low salary it is possible that if you were working in a factory or as a business person you could earn that much without all the training and schooling. A lot of veterinarians go into practice because of their love for animals and the pleasure it gives them taking care of them and keeping them healthy. The upside is when you look at what other countries are paying their veterinarians the average yearly salary in the United States is much higher.

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  • First Published Date: 24 June, 2014
  • Last Updated Date: 17 August, 2016