General veterinary industry statistics & demographics
Like many other healthcare industries, jobs in the veterinary industry are high stress, high reward.
Veterinarian job satisfaction is: high, but so are stress levels
Merck Animal Health recently completed a study on the well-being and mental health among veterinarians in the United States. The study showed that while veterinarians rated their job satisfaction highly, 92% showed concerns about high stress levels, and 91% were feeling anxious about student debt. Burnout due to serious psychological stress and long hours were commonly noted. The study also found that a whopping 52% of veterinarians would not recommend a career in the veterinary profession.
The highest paid veterinary specialty is: Ophthalmology
Average salaries for a veterinarian vary, but we found that the highest paid specialty in the industry is Ophthalmology, with AVMA reporting annual incomes of $199K+. Pathologists and Lab Animal Specialists weren’t far behind, with average salaries of $157K to $169K. You’ll need to work for those specialties, though — certification requires an additional 2 to 3 years of study on top of vet school at veterinary colleges with accreditation, plus passing an intensive exam. After that, a residency must be completed under the supervision of a Board Certified specialist in the field.
The lowest paid veterinary specialty is: Radiology
Veterinary Radiologists are one of the lowest paid specialists, but they still make an admirable average salary of $121K.
Average veterinarian work hours per week: 40+
Many veterinarians work outside of normal business hours, including nights and weekends. And, unfortunately, it’s common to have to respond to emergencies on top of scheduled work.
Best city for veterinarians to work in: Brunswick, GA
Based on job availability, annual salary, and cost of living, Brunswick is a fantastic choice for both seasoned and newly graduated veterinary students alike. Other promising options are Reading, PA, Killeen, TX, and Haverhill, MA. Worst locations include Baton Rouge, LA, Grand Rapids, MI, and Cleveland, OH.
Vet suicide rates are 2.1 to 3.5 times higher than the general population
Veterinarians contend with difficult work environments, including long hours, difficult pet owners, significant debt, poor work-life balance, and the complex emotions surrounding animal suffering and death. It’s no wonder so many feel anxious and depressed.
A CDC study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) found that suicide rates are significantly higher among U.S. Veterinarians than the general population. Female veterinarians were 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide, while male veterinarians were 2.1 times more likely than the general population. In this particular study, seventy-five percent of the veterinarians who died by suicide worked in a small animal practice.
Working as a veterinarian can be extremely difficult emotionally. If you’re contemplating suicide, please seek immediate help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. The world needs you here.
How many veterinarians are there in the US? 113,394
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association analyzed data from 2018, finding 113,394 veterinarians living in the United States.
Number of jobs: 89,200
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 89,200 jobs for veterinarians in the year 2019.
Job outlook through 2029: 16% (much faster growth than average)
Fortunately for veterinarians entering the work force, employment for the profession is projected to grow 16% from 2019 to 2029 — a percentage much higher than the average for other occupations.
Veterinarians are predominantly female
Female veterinarians are more common in the industry, accounting for 67.3% of veterinarians in the United States.
Veterinary practice statistics & facts
Pet health continues to be a top priority for owners, so business won’t be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, sixty-seven percent of U.S. households now own a pet, according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) in 2020. So what are the current statistics for veterinary clinics?
Number of veterinary clinics in the US: About 30,000
Depending on the source, the number of veterinary practices in the U.S. ranges from 28,000 to 32,000, according to the 2017 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Services.
Median pay: $99,250
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported median annual wage of $99,250 — or roughly $47.72 per hour — for veterinarians in the year 2020.
Top paying states for veterinarians
You’ll find the best wages for veterinarians in New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and Oregon, with annual pay ranging from $122,000 to $128,000.
Revenue for veterinary services in expected to reach $32.3 Billion in 2021
Pet owners spend a significant amount of money on their beloved furry family members; from vaccinations to wellness checks and surgeries, annual expenses for just one pet add up quickly.
The most common reason owners bring their dogs to a veterinary practice is for skin allergies, with the average owner spending around $255. Cat owners, on the other hand, will visit an animal practice for bladder or urinary tract problems.
Dogs are the most frequently seen patients in a companion animal practice
Dogs visit with a DVM an average of 1.5 times per year, while cats come in an average of 0.7 times annually. Birds and exotic pets were rarely seen, with an average number of visits at 0.1 and 0.02 per year, respectively.
Famous & popular veterinarians
Veterinarians in general are compassionate, driven professionals. We’ve tracked down just a few of the many notable vets worthy of celebration.
You can thank French veterinary surgeon Dr. Claude Bourgelat for your veterinary education — He established the first veterinary school in Lyon, France in August of 1761.
Dr. Elinor McGrath was the first female veterinarian, graduating with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1910. She then opened a small animal practice in Chicago, which was fairly uncommon at the time — most veterinarians in that period focused on food animals.
William Llewelyn “Buster” Lloyd-Jones
Animal welfare advocate Dr. Buster went down in history for his advocacy and compassionate care of sick, injured and abandoned animals during World War II. When owners were forced to leave their homes because of the war, he took in dozens of abandoned cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, bush babies, parrots, monkeys, and snakes. He was also passionate about natural health and founded the herbal veterinary product company Denes in 1951.
The Veterinary industry is certainly not for the faint of heart. However, the benefits often outweigh the difficulties, and countless animals and pet owners find comfort and relief in a veterinarian’s presence. Thank you, veterinary professionals, for all you do!