What is a Veterinarian

Veterinarians (also known as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or DVM, Animal Surgeon, Animal Pathologist, Small Animal Veterinarian, Large Animal Veterinarian, Public Health Veterinarian, Veterinary Doctor, Veterinary Physician, Veterinary Surgeon, or simply Vet) are health care professionals who specialize in veterinary medicine. They diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases and injuries in animals.

Work Environment

Geographically, veterinarians work anywhere where there are animals, however, different types of veterinarians work under various work settings. Mostly, vets work in privately or publicly owned animal clinics where they cater mainly to small companion animals and livestocks. Others find themselves working in educational institutions, research laboratories, medical laboratories, zoos, and wildlife parks. Some veterinarians may work with farm animals and must travel to farms and ranches. They spend most of their time working outdoors. Others may work in research laboratories or government agencies where they spend bulk of their time indoors. They are responsible for food safety and inspection spending most of their time in slaughterhouses and food-processing plants.

Work Schedule

Veterinarians are expected to work any time of the week including evenings and weekends. They work long hours; in fact, about 25% of veterinarians work more than 50 hours a week. This is typically seen among veterinarians who work in private clinics dealing with companion animals. Similar to physicians, veterinarians may be on call and will have to respond to emergency situations on their day off.

Mean Annual Veterinarian Salary

The mean annual veterinarian salary is $96,140. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $53,270 and the top 10% makes over $149,530.

Veterinarian Salary: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$96,140 per year
$46.22 per hour
Top 10% Salary$149,530 per year
$71.89 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$53,270 per year
$25.61 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201359,230

Veterinarian Job Outlook and Prospects

In modern America, many people consider pets as a member of the family. Consequently, people are willing to pay more for pet care then ever before. As research and technology in the veterinary field further advances, there are more diverse treatment options available for various animal diseases. There are currently 59,230 veterinarians employed in which 81% are in the veterinary services industry . The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics stipulates employment growth of 12%, or increase of 8,400 jobs by year 2022.

Job opportunities certainly looks excellent for anyone who wishes to pursue the field of veterinary medicine due to a number of factors, such as increasing human consumption of dairy products and limited availability of veterinarians across the country. There are only 28 accredited veterinarians programs in the whole country and only 2,500 graduates every year; the demand for veterinarians remains high, but the supply simply cannot keep up.

Veterinarian Salary Factors and Influences

In the past few years, the average annual salary of veterinarians has increased from $93,250 to $96,140. This is encouraging when the number of jobs is growing as well, meaning that veterinary medicine is an excellent field to enter at the moment.

Of course, not everyone entering this field will be making the same amount of money. There are a number of factors affecting a veterinarian’s salary including experience and specialization, industry, and location.

Experience and Specialization

Gaining experience in the field is one of the leading ways in which to increase earnings, especially if this leads to the development of a specialization. Veterinarian may further their degree by becoming a veterinarian specialist which usually requires an extra 2 years in clinical practice and another 3 years in residency. These veterinarians are expert in the field they specialize, such as oncology or dentistry. Consequently, their income resides in the top 10% of all veterinarian salary.


While most veterinarians are employed to provide professional, scientific, and technical services, earning them a respectable annual wage of $93,570, the high concentration of professionals in this industry means that it is not the highest paying market sector available. In fact, the highest paying industries are those that require extremely specialized skills which are developed through experience and further education. These top paying industries include employment in scientific research and development services and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, among others. However, self-employed veterinarians may earn the highest incomes. Based on reputation and loyalty, veterinarians in privately owned clinics can make well over $140,000 per year.


The highest paying states for veterinarians are also those with the some of the highest levels of employment, all of which are primarily found on the East coast. Perhaps more specialized positions can be found in more populated states, allowing individuals employed in these locations to earn more money. Some of the highest paying states include Connecticut, Delaware, New York, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey.

Top paying metropolitan areas can all be found within the largest states in the country, especially those with the highest concentration of veterinarians within the state. This is true of locations such as Florida and California. Nonmetropolitan areas are quite different, as the top paying areas vary widely throughout the country from Pennsylvania to South Carolina and beyond. This great variation in annual income for both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas is attributed to the difference in demand in various cities throughout the United States.