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Which Job Pays Better: A Vet or a Doctor?

by Forest Time

Veterinarians typically need eight years of postsecondary education to practice. Physicians need a minimum of eight years, and many specialists go to school for up to 14 years. Perhaps because of this additional education, doctors tend to make more money than veterinarians. In fact, some physician specialists earn a considerably higher salary.

Equine Vets Make More

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that veterinarians earned an average annual salary of $93,250 in 2012, with 80 percent of all veterinarian salaries falling between $51,530 and $144,100 per year. However, expected incomes vary among some specialty veterinarians. For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 25 percent of veterinarians specializing in the care of horses earned $180,000 or more in 2011.

General Practitioners Outearn Vets

General practitioners, sometimes called family physicians, provide primary care to patients. They are the most common form of physician, and they also earn one of the lowest average rates of pay among physicians. As of 2012, the BLS reports that family and general practitioners earn an average of $180,850 per year -- nearly double the average salary reported by veterinarians.

Surgeons Earn Even More

Surgeons are doctors who have specialized training that allows them to operate on patients. Surgeons are highly trained professionals who tend to earn more than general practitioners -- and much more than veterinarians. According to the BLS, surgeons earned an average of $230,540 per year in 2012. That's an average of $50,000 more per year than family doctors, and about 2 1/2 times more than the average veterinarian.

Specialists Make the Big Money

Because of the high level of training required, as well as demand, many physician specialists make considerably more than general practitioners, and certainly more than veterinarians. For example, health care website Medscape reports that orthopedists were the highest-paid physician specialty in 2012, with an average income of $405,000 per year. Other high-paid specialty physicians include cardiologists ($357,000), radiologists ($349,000), gastroenterologists ($342,000), urologists ($340,000) and anesthesiologists ($337,000).

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