October 30, 2016

Health, Jobs

Job Description

Veterinarians treat and research the health problems of all sorts of animals. Exotic animal vets treat zoo and circus performers while large animal veterinarians treat livestock and horses. Small animal vets are the most common kind of veterinarian and they mostly treat dogs and cats. Some veterinarians work for the government or in laboratories as well.

Because animals cannot explain their health issues, veterinarians must rely on physical examinations and laboratory tests. Some of the same tools which are used in human medicine such as blood analyses, x-rays and visual inspection are involved in making a veterinary diagnosis. Veterinarians also perform preventive treatments such as general wellness exams and giving vaccinations.


The median annual wage of veterinarians in the U.S. was $82,040 in May 2010. The lowest-paid 10 percent of vets made less than $49,910 and the highest-paid 10 percent made more than 145,230. Food animal vets make the highest salaries while equine vets make the lowest salaries. The largest segment of the veterinary population, companion animal vets, make the second-highest average salaries.

The charts and graphs below depict some of the salary information related to U.S. veterinarians.

Veterinarian Salary Statistics as of 2015

Median annual salary for a Veterinarian is $76,193 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2015. The highest salary recorded was $106,129. The lowest salary reported was 46,256. These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.

Median hourly wage for a Veterinarian is $45 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2015. The highest hourly wage recorded was $66. The lowest hourly wage recorded was $23. These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.

Bonuses for a Veterinarian are based on the years of experience using statistics from the U.S. as of 2015. The biggest bonus recorded was $1,142 from someone with 15+ years of experience. The smallest bonus recorded was $1,013 from someone with under 1 year of experience.

These are the top 5 highest paying states for a Veterinarian. These numbers are based off the median annual salary as of 2015.
1. California – $46,421 – $104,426
2. Texas – $50,621 – $100,911
3. Illinois – $48,813 – $99,112
4. New York – $39,299 – $104,844
5. Florida – $41,736 – $102,998

These are the top 5 highest paying cities for a Veterinarian. These numbers are based off the median annual salary as of 2015.
1. Houston, Texas – $45,646 – $148,123
2. San Diego, California – $43,789 – $142,421
3. Los Angeles, California – $30,123 – $131,134
4. New York, New York – $50,623 – $127,654
5. Atlanta, Georgia – $37,232 – $126,334

This chart outlines the average annual salary of a Veterinarian from the past 5 years. In 2015 the average annual salary was $72,000 while in 2008 it was just $68,764.

Specialized Fields

Food Animals: Vets who work with cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and other animals raised for food production. Also includes livestock kept for other reasons such as wool-bearing sheep.
Equine: Veterinarians who specialize in working with horses who may be pets, race horses or working animals.
Companion Animals: Dogs and cats make up the majority of the caseload of a companion animal vet. Small and exotic animals such as rodents and pot-belly pigs are also seen by some companion animal vets.
Exotic Animals: Zoo animals and animals kept as pets which are not dogs or cats may be treated by exotic animal vets.

Work Environment

The work environment for a veterinarian varies tremendously based of the kind of work they perform. Food animal vets spend a lot of time in the outdoors where livestock are kept and may be exposed to all kinds of weather. Food animal and equine vets must travel a lot. Companion animal and laboratory vets almost exclusively work in climate-controlled facilities and travel minimally.

All animals are potentially dangerous since they can kick, bite or otherwise injure the people handling them. Veterinarians may experience emotional turmoil based on the pain and suffering of animals in their care. Veterinarians also tend to work long hours. 1 in 4 veterinarians surveyed in 2010 worked more than 50 hours per week.

How to Become a Veterinarian

Veterinarians must attend veterinary school and receive a four-year professional degree, the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. There are only 28 licensed veterinary schools in the U.S. and gaining admission is extremely competitive. About 2500 new veterinarians are licensed each year in the U.S.

Entrance requirements for veterinary school usually include a bachelor’s degree and a set of specific science-related courses. However, some schools do not require a degree. There are universities which offer pre-veterinary focuses but people come into veterinary school with all sorts of degrees. Some of the most common are biology, zoology and animal science.

Experience with animal handling is required for admission to vet school as well. Some schools require that this be in a veterinary setting while others accept hours completed in non-medical settings. The official requirement may be met with as few as 180 hours but most students who are accepted to vet school have over 1000.

Veterinarians must also be licensed. State veterinary boards administer exams and require graduation from a licensed program in order to practice. Each state administers their own exams and most do not recognize the licenses of other states.

Job Outlook

From 2010 to 2020 the employment of veterinarians is expected to grow 36 percent, providing a good job outlook for people considering entering the field. Most veterinarians work in companion animal medicine with the result being that this is the most competitive segment of the job market. Although the number of jobs in food animal medicine is not increasing as quickly, fewer people want to perform these jobs and food animal vets are increasingly in demand. Government jobs in disease control and public health are also expected to be more available than those in companion animal medicine.

Gender Statistics

Veterinarian Health Benefits



Based on our stats gathered across the U.S. 29% of jobTitles were females while 71% were males. These numbers are based on averages across all states combined. Some individual states may have a much different ratio however.
Health: 68%
Dental: 34%

Eye: 23%
None: 31%

Veterinarian Jobs




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