Whether just beginning veterinary school, in training, or already a practicing veterinarian, having an income expectation can help guide salary negotiations and create a long-term financial plan.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for veterinarians was $109,920 as of May 2021.
Based on percentile wage estimates from the BLS, the 10th percentile of veterinarians makes $60,760. The 25th percentile makes $78,920, the 50th makes $100,370, the 75th makes $128,410, and the 90th makes $165,600.
The mean annual wage reported by the BLS equates to an hourly wage of $52.84.
The average compensation for new veterinary graduates in 2019 was $70,045, up from $65,983 in 2018, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2020 Economic State of the Veterinary Profession report.
According to the BLS, the median annual wages for veterinarians in the top industries in which they worked as of May 2021 were:
Veterinarians’ salaries can vary greatly by state. According to the BLS, these are the annual mean wages based on data from May 2021:
Pursuing a veterinary specialty can cause an individual to take on more debt and spend more time while training, but it can also lead to a higher paycheck. According to a 2020 report from AVMA, the average salaries for veterinary specialists are as follows:
Board certification can increase salary for both private practice and public veterinarians. For private practice veterinarians, those without certification earn a median income of $91,000 per year; those with certification earn a median of $157,000 annually. Public or corporate veterinarians without board certification also earn a median income of $91,000 per year, while those with certification earn a median of $133,000 annually.
Understanding your expected salary is important to mapping out your financial future. The numbers we shared are simply averages, so salaries in your region or specialty may differ.
For a salary estimate that takes into account your experience, location, practice type and more, use AVMA’s Veterinary Salary Estimator.
For veterinarians — and doctors as a whole — it can be hard to adjust to such a large jump in income following training, and it is important to have resources to guide you along the way. We can help you get connected with industry-specific experts in financial planning, budgeting, taxes and other areas, completely free of charge. Find out more here.
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