How much do veterinarians make?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, U.S. pet owners had more than 157 million companion animals (dogs, cats, birds and horses) in 2012. In 2011, six out of 10 pet owners said they considered their pets to be family members, and the average veterinary expenditure for all animals that year was $375.
Statistics like this point to the fact that veterinarians often enjoy financially rewarding careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarians nationwide earned a mean annual salary of $98,230 in May 2014, and the top-paid 10 percent of earners enjoyed a median salary of $157,390 or more.
As in other careers, veterinarians' salaries vary with location, industry and experience. In 2014, average veterinarian salaries were highest when they worked for employers classified as "management of companies and enterprises" by the BLS. These vets had mean annual wages of $139,230.
Location also factors into veterinarian salaries. The following states and districts offered the highest annual average veterinarian salaries in 2014:
- Delaware: $128,740
- New Jersey: $120,240
- Connecticut: $119,670
- New York: $118,950
- California: $118,210
While the above states are relatively populous, and are among the states employing the highest levels of veterinarians, the demand for these professionals also is great in rural areas in states such as Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia, where veterinarians are needed to care for animals on farms and ranches.