Although some veterinarians treat well-loved pets, others take care of farm animals, such as horses, sheep and cattle. Still others work in laboratories or even in food-processing plants. Their work hours are often irregular. About 25 percent of veterinarians worked more than 50 hours per week in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The type of job and its location affect the pretax income of a veterinarian.
As of 2011, the annual pretax income of veterinarians ranged from $50,480 per year or less for the lowest-earning 10 percent to $141,680 per year or greater for the highest-earning 10 percent, according to the BLS. These statistics do not include the approximately 9 percent of veterinarians who are self-employed. The average wage for veterinarians working as employees in any industry was $91,250 annually.
A large majority of the 55,410 veterinarians nationwide worked for veterinary clinics and services in 2011, where their average pretax wage was $91,160 per year. The federal executive branch employed 1,410 veterinarians, with average pay of $88,810 per year. Social advocacy organizations had 589 veterinarians, at pay averaging $87,570 per year, and state governments employed an additional 540, paying them average salaries of $88,670 annually. Those working in educational institutions averaged $84,290 in annual income.
Three industries paid veterinarians more than $100,000 per year before taxes in 2011, according to BLS statistics. Scientific research, with 330 jobs, paid an average of $124,610. The pharmaceutical industry and animal production support activities each had 50 vets, paying them an average of $113,270 and $104,160 per year respectively.
The top states for veterinarian pay in 2011 were Connecticut, at $125,810 per year pretax, and New Jersey, at $121,480, according to the BLS report. In Hawaii, pay averaged $111,310 per year, and in the District of Columbia, it averaged $110,800.
New Graduate Pay
The American Veterinary Medical Association surveyed the full-time pay of new 2012 graduates. A total of 41.5 percent of them went into private clinical practice, where they received average first-year pay of $65,998 per year before taxes. More than half of these work exclusively with pets, receiving starting pay of $68,116 per year. Those working exclusively with food animals, such as beef or dairy cattle, received $74,235 for the first year. Vets treating both pets and farm or ranch animals, called mixed animal practice, averaged $63,993 the first year. Only 3.3 percent of 2012 graduates found jobs with government or industry, where the average starting pay was $57,566. More than half of new graduates continued their education instead of beginning work.
Requirements and Outlook
Most veterinarians finish a bachelor's degree before beginning a mandatory four-year doctorate in veterinary medicine. Veterinarians must also pass professional exams and fulfill the other licensing requirements for their particular state. Many veterinarians continue their education with internships or residencies and take additional exams for specialty certification. Newly-qualified veterinarians can expect a favorable job outlook, reports the BLS. It predicts a 36 percent increase in jobs between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the 14 percent average for all occupations. The job market will be best in government, large animal care and public health because of less competition.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Veterinarians -- Work Environment
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook and Wages, May 2011: Veterinarians
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Market Research Statistics - First Year Employment
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Veterinarian
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Veterinarians -- Job Outlook
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