Most veterinarians are pain by the visit or case, similar to how human medical doctors are paid. It doesn’t matter if the visit lasts 20 minutes or an hour, veterinarians are still paid the same amount. The majority of veterinarians work in private practices. Other veterinarians work in fields such as animal disease, research, zoo consultation, meat/milk inspection, and teaching. The salary, as with other professions, varies based on certain factors such as:
- Location of Schooling
- Location of Work
- Specific Field of Practice
- Continued Education
- Type of Veterinarian
- Revenue Production
Looking at the Numbers
Private practice veterinarians can either work in a large or small facility, an animal hospital, an animal shelter, or they can own their own practice. Salaries vary based on the criteria above, and believe it or not, gender of the veterinarian. Starting salaries generally begin at an average of $49,000 with men making more than women when first entering the workforce. As time goes on and education, accreditation and certification are achieved, studies show that men continue to average more annually than women, making upwards of 34% more per year.
Plus, recent studies show that public and corporate veterinarians make more than private practice veterinarians, average between $110,000 and $170,000 per year, while private practice veterinarians average $91,000 per year. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that these numbers are based on large practices, and some private practice veterinarians who own their own practice, work alone or without a full staff will make more annually. Also, the gap between male and female salaries isn’t showing an increase year to year. Unfortunately, the gap isn’t decreasing either.
Still, it’s important to know that the majority of graduates of veterinary medicine from 2007 to 2009 were women, which could translate into better pay for all women veterinarians. The number of hours worked from 2007-2009 declined to an average of 48.5 hours per week compared to 1987-1989’s weekly average of 53 hours per week.
The chart above shows the differences in salary for private practice veterinarians and public/corporation veterinarians from 2003 to 2009. Private practice vets earn less than their public/corporation vets each year due to things such as experience, location and whether the veterinarian is salaried or in private practice.
The median salary for small animal exclusive veterinarians who do not own their own practice, ranges from $70,000 to $91,000 annually. If one does own their practice, they can earn a median salary between $55,000 to $151,000 annually, depending on his/her experience and type of practice owned. In 2008, the mean salary for new graduates was $48,328 and new small animal veterinarians made $59,057 on average.
In a separate study, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median income of veterinarians is $66,590 per year, and the average salary for those working for the federal government is $78,769 per year at starting salary.