Career as a Veterinarian Salary
By Diane Turner
Veterinarians are heath care professionals that work with animals rather than humans. They will focus on examining animals to treat various health problems, test for and treat diseases, treat or dress wounds, perform surgeries,operate any necessary medical equipment to perform examinations, prescribe medication, euthanize animals and advise animal owners regarding the proper care or home treatment for their animals. The average salary of a veterinarianis largely based on the type of specialization the veterinarian takes on. This will impact the type of animals the individual works with as well as the area where they will be practicing.
Different types of veterinarians will be expected to work in very different environments based on the type of animals they will be expected to treat. Those working in the food service industry will be expected to visit slaughterhouses, processing plants or farms to inspect the practices being implemented here. Those that service large animals can expect to work outdoors or perform advanced surgical procedures in unsanitary conditions in a variety of weather. Those working with pets or small animals may work at a clinic or otherwise sterile environment. The veterinarian average salary will vary greatly depending on which of these positions the vet hopes to take on.
In order to work in this field, individuals must complete a bachelor’s degree, which will typically be in a hard science such as animal science, anatomy or biology. They will then need to participate in an accredited program to earn their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD). There are not many programs that offer these degrees, so admission to such programs is highly competitive. Throughout the DVM program, students will complete 3 years of classroom study which will include clinical and laboratory work. You will then need to spend 4 years working in a veterinary hospital or medical center to learn the necessary skills to practice without supervision.
Veterinarian Average Salary
The average veterinarian salary is$91,250 which is on the higher end of salaries earned in the United States today. The salary of a veterinarian is largely based on the significant amount of education needed to earn a position in this field, though the area and industry where the veterinarian earns employment will also have a distinct impact on the amount this individual can expect to earn.
Veterinarian Salary Factors and Influences
The industry that the vet works in will have a significant impact on the average salary of a veterinarian. Note the top paying industries that tend to employ those with a degree in veterinary science below.
Scientific Research and Development Average Salary: $124,610
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing Average Salary: $113,270
Support Activities for Animal Production Average Salary: $104,160
Other Scientific, Technical Professional Services Average Salary: $91,160
Federal Executive Branch Average Salary: $88,810
You will note that most of these industries will largely be employing veterinarians for research purposes rather than applying medical treatment to the animals. Veterinarians that can act as an expert in their field will be able to testify to the proper methods for caring for, feeding, marketing or storing animals. This knowledge will impact many industries including food service and medical research, so the vets capable of making these decisions will be compensated highly. Compare this to the distinctly lower salary for a veterinarianin the highest employing industries.
Other Scientific, Technical and Professional Average Salaries: $91,160
Federal Executive Branch Average Salary: $88,810
Social Advocacy Organizations Average Salary: $87,570
State Government Average Salary: $88,670
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools Average Salary: $84,290
In this case, the veterinarian average salary is still based on providing insight for how to care for animals, but in most cases this will involve teaching others how to practice methods themselves rather than speaking to an industry as a whole. You will be working with smaller groups with smaller budgets, and so the average salary offered will be lowered to compensate.
You may be surprised to note that neither the top paying or top employing industries for veterinarians seem to be clinics or other atmospheres that would be dedicated to the treatment of sick or injured animals. In fact, these industries, while they may be the most commonly thought of environments for veterinarians to work, make up a very small part of the industry. Most money from veterinary science is dedicated to the research of man’s interaction with animals rather than the application of these skills.
Veterinarian Salary Compared To Related Fields
Veterinarians earn a highly advanced salary compared to most others working in fields that directly deal with the care and treatment of animals.
Average Salary for a Veterinarian: $91,250
Average Salary for Animal Care and Service Workers: $19,780
Average Salary for Agricultural and Food Scientists: $58,450
Average Salary for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists: $57,430
Average Salary for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers: $22,040
As you can see, veterinarians earn significantly more than other, similar fields. This is largely due to the fact that veterinarians are expected to earn a more advanced degree than those working in these other programs. For example, animal service workers or veterinary assistants can often perform their jobs with an associate’s degree or no degree at all while veterinarians will need to complete two degrees including seven years of veterinary school before they can enter the field.
Veterinarian Salary by State
Location will play a very large role in the salary a veterinarian can hope to make. Listed below is the veterinarian salary by state based on those that offer the highest salaries.
Veterinarian Salary in Connecticut: $125,810
Veterinarian Salary in New Jersey: $121,480
Veterinarian Salary in Hawaii: $111,310
Veterinarian Salary in District of Colombia: $110,800
Veterinarian Salary in Pennsylvania: $109,000
You will note that these states tend to have smaller populations. This is a common trend when evaluating theaverage salary for a veterinarian. States that have fewer people, particularly those that do not have a school offering a degree in veterinary science nearby, tend to offer more competitive salaries to those working in this field. Compare these statistics to the states with high concentrations of veterinarians.
Salary for Veterinarians in Montana: $60,590
Salary for Veterinarians in Colorado: $77,170
Salary for Veterinarians in Iowa: $72,890
Salary for Veterinarians in Idaho: $78,660
Salary for Veterinarians in Nebraska: $73,730
You will note that thesalary of a veterinarian in these areas is significantly lower than those listed above, in spite of the fact that these states have an even lower population than those with high salaries for veterinarians. This is mainly due to the type of veterinarians that will be working in these areas. States like Montana or Iowa that have large, open spaces will usually need large animal vets more than veterinarians that specialize in small animals or animal research. Large animal vets are often expected to work for several large farms or industries simultaneously, which increases the amount of work they will need to do for their pay. Farms and facilities that will commonly need veterinary service in these areas are also typically working on a tighter budget, limiting the pay they can offer.
Veterinarian Types of Salaries
Animal Scientist I: Average Salary: $46,305
Animal scientists will primarily conduct research on the proper methods for managing, feeding and breeding animals. They will evaluate how these theories can be applied to scientific study. Those hoping to enter into this field will need to get a degree in animal science as well as a few years of experience in the field. While these scientists will be working underneath authority figures, much of the day to day operation in the field will rely on solid personal judgment.
Animal Technician: Average Salary: $33,069
Animal technicians are responsible for caring for animals being used for scientific research. This includes maintaining their cages, monitoring their health or performing other duties as assigned by your supervisors. You may be asked to assist with procedures including the scientific studies occurring within the research facility. Those going into this field must be familiar with the restrictions and requirements to properly house and treat animals that are being used for research purposes.
Animal Technician, Sr.: Average Salary: $39,869
Senior technicians will focus their efforts on the daily care research animals require. This will include cleaning living spaces, monitoring the animals and ensuring quality overall health of all test subjects. They will be responsible for coordinating these efforts with their supervisors. Technicians may also be asked to perform minor surgeries and post-operative care as the result of efforts being made throughout the experimentation process. They may also need to transport animals to and from laboratory facilities.
Research Veterinarian: Average Salary: $96,301
Research veterinarians will focus their efforts on providing medical services for animals including surgeries, medications and physical therapy as needed. Those that hope to work in this field will need to earn a DVM and have at least five years of experience in the field or in a similar area of employment before they can seek a position. The specific programs that the veterinarian will work with will depend on the nature of the animals they work with and the eventual use for these animals.
Animal Groomer and Bather: Average Salary: $31,019
Groomers do not require secondary education to work with animals. A high school diploma or equivalent will be suitable provided this person has a few years of experience in the field or working with animals. They will be required to take a training program that teaches the proper methods for washing and caring for animal’s skin and fur. This may vary based on the type of animal the groomer will be working with, particularly if they plan to work with competition animals. Much of this training can be earned on the job if necessary or preferred.
History of Veterinarians
The idea of training a professional to care for domesticated animals dates all the way back to 3500 BC. In these times, people in China and Egypt would call on vets to prescribe herbs that could improve the health of their animals. The practice of using biological study to better understand animals was first recorded in Greece in 500 BC. The first schools for professional veterinarians were established in 1765 with locations appearing in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Vienna. The first school in America did not appear until 1870, though publication such at The Modern Horse Doctor or The American Cattle Doctor provided advice for how to care for your animals on a farm in the 1850s and in 1863 the American Veterinary Medical Association was founded to help regulate practices used to treat domestic animals. By 1940, the AVMA pushed to hold veterinarians on the same levels as doctors that practiced on humans, a movement that resulted in higher training requirements and a better average salary for a veterinarian, which still impacts the profession today.
Veterinarian Salary Outlook – Conclusion
The number of veterinarians working in the United States is expected to grow as much as 36 percent by 2020, which is significantly higher than both the average profession in the country and those specifically working in health diagnosing and treating positions. The average salary of a veterinarian is also expected to remain competitive, largely because veterinary study is a somewhat exclusive profession. There are only 28 accredited programs for veterinarians in the country, which produce approximately 2500 graduates each year. This is a small amount compared to the positions that are opening in the field, making the salary for a veterinariansignificantly more competitive.
The respect and encouragement for the veterinary field is also growing. Many programs and areas treat veterinarians with the same respect that they would a doctor practicing on humans, a distinct shift in attitude from previous decades. The more this field is respected, the easier it is for veterinarians to earn a salary that is comparative to others in the medical field. As this field grows and the research necessary to complete veterinary tasks becomes more widely available, the salaries of this profession are expected to increase to match.
The average veterinarian salary is also growing due to the increased need for adequate science regarding the breeding and marketing of animals. Issues with food safety and disease control have become more serious as the agricultural industry is expected to continue expanding their reach to feed more of the country. Having science that will ensure that these animals will not spread dangerous diseases to large populations of other animals or humans is essential. Veterinarians that are able to provide quality information to this discussion will be in high demand in the years to come, particularly as additional restrictions on food safety are promoted and passed.