How Much Does a Veterinarian Make?

January 11, 2022

For Veterinarians

January 11, 2022

If you are pursuing a career as a veterinarian, you may be wondering if your salary will reflect the many years of study and toil to gain your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. While the profession is economically stable, and salaries tend to increase each year, the field you choose and where you settle will strongly influence the impact on your bank account every month. Average veterinary salaries in the United States currently range from $78,500 to $108,500 annually, but salaries as low as $40,000 and as high as $200,000 have been reported.

Compensation for new veterinarians

A new veterinarian’s salary depends on whether they decided to seek further training, and their chosen field.

  • Interns — Veterinarians who choose to pursue an internship to gain mentored training and experience receive about $35,423 a year. This amount drops to $28,372 if the internship is at an academic institution. Veterinarians who complete an internship can usually demand more money once they enter practice.
  • Companion animal veterinarians — Most veterinarians become companion animal veterinarians, treating cats, dogs, and other small animals, including hamsters, gerbils, and rabbits. Their average starting salary is $87,000.
  • Large animal veterinarians — Veterinarians who treat farm animals typically have a starting salary around $75,000. Mixed practice, zoological, and exotic animal veterinarians also start at about this salary.
  • Equine veterinarians — Veterinarians who solely treat horses receive about $50,000 as a starting salary.

Veterinary compensation by experience level

Typically, a veterinarian’s salary increases as they gain more experience. These numbers also can vary, depending on the field of veterinary medicine practiced.

  • Entry level — First-year veterinarians who start directly in private or public practice typically make between $70,000 and $85,000. 
  • Mid-level — Veterinarians who have been in practice for a few years make $84,555 on average.
  • Experienced — Veterinarians who become partners in practice have higher earnings than those who remain associates. Their average income is $91,752, but can be as high as $143,000, including salary, profit sharing, and dividends.
  • Specialized — Veterinarians who participate in additional training through a residency program and become board certified in a specialty receive incomes exceeding $150,000 a year. Ophthalmologists, who average about $200,000, are the highest paid.

Veterinary compensation by practice type

Although most veterinarians work in private practice, veterinarians are needed in various industries, including law enforcement, military branches, scientific research, and public health.

  • Consulting — Veterinary consultants provide industry guidance to other veterinary practices to improve business performance. They evaluate staff performance, examine financial statements and clinic budgets, and review training procedures, to determine which areas require improvement. Their average salary is about $150,000 a year.
  • Education — Veterinary professors are responsible for teaching veterinary students and caring for the animals that are presented to the veterinary teaching hospital. Their average salary is about $120,000 a year.
  • Research — Research veterinarians perform studies to further understand animal and human medical issues, and are paid an average annual $110,000 salary.
  • Public health — Veterinarians who work in public health consult with physicians, legislators, and health departments to control diseases that humans can get from animals and animal products. Their average salary is about $88,490 a year, but their income can range from $53,210 to $158,260 annually.
  • Companion animal practice — Veterinarians treating dogs and cats typically make about $110,000 annually.
  • Food animal practice — Veterinarians treating cows, pigs, sheep, and goats typically make about $100,000 a year.
  • Equine practice — Veterinarians treating horses typically make about $90,000 a year.
  • Relief veterinarians — Relief veterinarians fill in for practices when regular veterinarians are absent. They typically make between $142,405 and $187,427 a year.
  • Government and military — Veterinarians who provide care for military therapy or security dogs receive about $100,000 a year.
  • Non-profit practice — Veterinarians who work for non-profit rescue organizations make about $90,000 a year.

While money is not typically the motivating factor for those pursuing a veterinary career, knowing what salary to expect can be helpful when choosing the field you want to work in, and where you want to practice. If you are looking for a veterinarian in your area, VetVet can help you find the best care for your pet.

Sources: The balance careers. November 2019. American Veterinary Medical Association. Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. April, 2020. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. May 2020.

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Disclaimer: Our content is for informational purposes only — it’s not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.