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How Much Does a Veterinarian Make a Year?

By Susan Guillory · January 25, 2024 · 5 minute read

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How Much Does a Veterinarian Make a Year?

Being a veterinarian doesn’t just give you an opportunity to work with animals all day — you could also earn good money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a vet is $103,260.

However, the profession requires a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, which generally takes four years to complete. Is it worth the extra education to become a veterinarian? Let’s find out.

What Are Veterinarians?

Veterinarians are medically licensed doctors whose patients are animals. Just like a doctor for humans, vets ensure their patients are healthy by diagnosing issues, treating injuries, and administering vaccinations.

Some veterinarians only work with certain animals, such as horses, or have specialties like immunology, anesthesia, or dentistry.

It typically takes eight years to become a veterinarian, including four years of undergraduate education and four years of veterinary school.

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How Much Do Starting Veterinarians Make?

The average entry-level salary for new veterinarians at an independent practice is $105,637. Working for a corporate practice tends to pay a bit more — the average starting salary is around is $124,686. Some practices may also offer a sign-on bonus.


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What Is the Average Salary for a Veterinarian?

One question you may have is, how much does a veterinarian make an hour? The average hourly rate is $47.25, though with 10 years or more of experience, that amount rises to $67.22 per hour.

Now, how much does a vet make a year? Depending on a host of factors, a vet could earn anywhere from $81,601 on the lower end to $186,300 on the higher end.

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What is the Average Veterinarian Salary by State for 2023?

Interested in the highest-paying jobs by state so you can see what salaries are like where you live? Here are the state-by-state average salaries for vets, from highest to lowest.

State

Average Salary

Maine $116,665
New Mexico $113,328
Vermont $113,030
Maryland $111,834
New Jersey $110,946
North Dakota $110,753
California $110,657
New York $110,501
District of Columbia $108,136
Rhode Island $107,862
Massachusetts $107,585
Pennsylvania $107,414
Montana $106,137
Oregon $105,895
Utah $105,159
Delaware $104,715
Ohio $103,974
Virginia $102,565
Texas $102,430
Washington $102,235
Arizona $102,186
New Hampshire $101,407
West Virginia $100,386
Nevada $100,280
Arkansas $100,209
Connecticut $99,455
Tennessee $98,307
South Carolina $98,201
North Carolina $97,914
Michigan $97,868
Indiana $97,022
Illinois $96,430
Idaho $96,310
Minnesota $94,557
Iowa $94,117
Alaska $93,118
Georgia $92,959
Florida $91,716
Alabama $91,089
Hawaii $89,823
Wyoming $88,138
Colorado $84,895
Wisconsin $84,118
Missouri $83,042
Kentucky $80,867
Kansas $77,756
Mississippi $75,330
Nebraska $72,814
Louisiana $68,593
South Dakota $68,059
Oklahoma $61,224

Source: Zippia

Veterinarian Job Considerations for Pay and Benefits

The amount you actually get paid as a veterinarian will depend on several factors. For instance, you probably won’t make as much money when you’re fresh out of veterinary school as you would after working in the field for a decade or more. And as the chart above shows, the state where you decide to live will also influence how much you earn.

Other factors that can play a role include whether you choose to work for a corporate practice or private practice, whether you manage staff, and whether you pursue a specialty field.

No matter what your take-home pay is, online tools like a money tracker app can help you create budgets and keep tabs on your finances.

Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinarian

Before you sign up for veterinary school, let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a vet.

Pros

If you love animals, few jobs will put you in as close contact with them as being a vet. On any given day, you could see dogs, cats, snakes, turtles, rabbits, and even horses!

And if you’re looking to make good money, being a veterinarian is a great option. Even starting out, vets could potentially draw a $100,000 salary.

The veterinary industry is stable, which can be appealing if you’re considering opening your own practice. And unlike other medical professions, veterinarians usually keep standard office hours.


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Cons

The profession has a few drawbacks to consider. For instance, you may be required to perform emergency services after hours.

Once you finish your undergraduate degree, you’ll also need to complete veterinary school before you can start working. A typical program takes around four years to complete, so you may need to earmark a portion of your salary to pay back medical school student loans.

And like most jobs in the medical field, being a veterinarian can be emotionally taxing. After all, you’ll be responsible for putting fatally wounded or older animals to sleep, and that can be difficult.

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The Takeaway

If you’ve read through the drawbacks to being a vet and are still excited about the prospect of helping animals, becoming a veterinarian might be a great fit for you. Just keep in mind that the profession requires an extra four years of education, which can add to your educational debt. Also, salaries can vary widely by state and whether you work for an independent or corporate practice, two factors that could impact your salary.

FAQ

What is the highest paying veterinarian job?

On the high end, veterinarians can make $186,300 per year.

Do veterinarians make over 100k a year?

Yes, many veterinarians earn over $100,000 per year, but that depends on their experience, where they live, and their responsibilities.

How much do veterinarians make starting out?

Just starting out, veterinarians who work at an independent practice can earn an average of $105,637. Those going to work for a corporate practice could make slightly more — an average of $124,686.


Photo credit: iStock/Viktor Cvetkovic

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