If you ask most veterinarians why those chose their career most will tell you, “it’s not about the money”. Most people who choose veterinary medicine as a career do it for the ability to use scientific knowledge and advanced medicine to improve the lives of animals and humans. It’s a diverse, stable career with multiple opportunities for growth and development. However, salary certainly matters on some level for veterinarians as they need to provide a good quality of life for themselves and their families. Add in the extremely high cost of a veterinary education and the take home pay becomes very significant.
Compared to their human-medicine counterparts, those with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree make over $100,000 less annually, on average, for the same level of education and debt as physicians. This disparity is the reason for the heavy financial burden many veterinarians face that human-medicine doctors do not.
In 2017 the median salary for veterinarians according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was $90,492. The highest 10% of earners brought in $159,320 per year or more and the lowest 10% of veterinarians took home only $53,980 per year or less. When you break the statistics down by species specialization, small animal veterinarian’s average starting salary was $71,462.
On a positive note, the BLS does predict that by 2026 veterinarian jobs are on a growth trajectory of around 19% which is higher than other health occupations. The future is bright for veterinary medicine.
Those interested in pursuing a career as a veterinarian should be aware of the issues surrounding student loan debt and debt to income ratios to make an informed decision about the profession they want to join. Veterinarians and veterinary students should ask detailed questions to potential employers and fully understand the various salary options that exist. Getting paid a straight salary, production only, or some form of ProSal with negative accrual all affect earnings widely and doctors should know how they differ beforehand so there are no unfortunate surprises once hired.
At THRIVE, we offer our new graduate veterinarians a salary that is well above the starting national average. We also offer a highly competitive benefits package, including our industry disrupting student debt repayment plan, the THRIVE Freedom Plan, to ensure that all of our doctors have what they need financially to live comfortably in all our hospital markets.