What Is the Average Income of a Veterinarian?

Veterinarians study for a minimum of eight years after high school.
Veterinarians study for a minimum of eight years after high school. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Veterinarians care for animals of all kinds. They may work with pets, livestock, sporting animals, zoo creatures or laboratory animals. Veterinarians diagnose and treat diseases in animals, vaccinate them against disease, perform surgical procedures, stitch and dress wounds and, when necessary, euthanize animals. They also offer owners advice on feeding, living conditions and breeding programs. A veterinarian’s salary will depend upon various factors, including location and experience.

Average Salary

According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in May 2009, the average annual salary for a veterinarian working in the United States is $90,110. Calculated from wage data supplied by over 50,000 individuals, this equates to a monthly income of $7,509 and a pay rate of $43.32 per hour. In April 2011, salary comparison website PayScale.com published figures that put the average yearly income for a veterinarian at between $58,329 and $85,775.

Salary by Industry

The majority of veterinarians work in veterinary practices. The bureau – using the nomenclature professional, scientific and technical services – listed the average salary in this sector of the industry as $90,470. Vets working for federal government agencies earned an average of $84,200 while those at the state government level received an average of $88,820. Higher wages were available for veterinarians working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing -- $107,200 – and scientific research and development services -- $97,620.

Salary by Experience

In its 2011 survey, PayScale.com discovered that as a veterinarian gains more experience in the profession, the range and extent of her potential salary increases. It lists the average wage for a vet with less than 12 months on the job at between $50,430 and $68,841. For a practitioner with one to four years behind her, the salary was between $54,454 and $74,600, while for someone with five to nine years' experience, the average salary rose to between $58,814 and $85,834. With 10 to 19 years, a veterinarian received between $60,398 and $89,882, while someone who has practiced for 20 years or more earned between $60,431 and $99,196.

Salary by Geography

In a survey conducted by pay analysis website SalaryExpert.com in April 2011, Miami, Dallas, and New York were found to be comparatively lucrative cities for a veterinarian to work in, with average wages of $141,825, $103,939 and $99,186, respectively. In contrast, Boston was listed at $68,023. The Bureau of Labor Statistics put New Jersey and Connecticut at the top of the list for states in which veterinarians earned the highest average wages across all industry sectors, with $117,170 and $116,150, respectively. Montana offered an average of $60,430.

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