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How Much Do Veterinarians Make? The Highest and Lowest Paying U.S. States

Lily Velez

By

Medically reviewed by

Veterinarians.org Staff

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how much do veterinarians make

How Much Do Veterinarians Make? The Best and Worst Paying States for Veterinarians – Highlights:

  • Arkansas is the #1 highest paying state for veterinarians in the U.S. Veterinarians in this state earn an average salary that’s 146.7% higher than the average salary in the state across all occupations. 
  • Other states in the Top 10 list for Highest Paying States for Veterinarians include South Carolina (140.5%), West Virginia (136.5%), Idaho, (135.2%), Texas, (133.8%), North Carolina (130.7%), Ohio (126.5%), Florida (125.3%), Oregon (116.0%), and Mississippi (115.4%). 
  • Topping the list for the Lowest Paying State for Veterinarians is Washington, where veterinarians earn an average salary of $102,080, which is only 52.7% higher than the average salary across all occupations in the state.
  • Other states in the Top 10 list for Lowest Paying States for Veterinarians include Colorado (57.6%), Minnesota (58.0%), Massachusetts (59.2%), Alaska, (61.9%), Oklahoma (67.2%), Nebraska (70.9%), Connecticut (71.6%), Montana (73.3%), and New Mexico (74.3%). 
  • Washington D.C. also makes the list for lowest paying regions for veterinarians. Veterinarians in this area make $127,310, which is only 33.5% more than the average salary in the district.  

 

How much do veterinarians make? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay in 2020 for a veterinarian was $108,350. This is almost double the average salary in the U.S. across all occupations ($56,310). What’s more, the employment of veterinarians is projected to grow by 17% by 2030, a figure that’s significantly higher than average. 

But how do veterinary salaries differ across the United States? How much do veterinarians make in populous states like California and New York compared to states like Wyoming and the Dakotas? And in what states is a veterinarian’s salary significantly higher than the average salary in the area? 

The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org has compiled the following report to answer these very questions. 

 

 

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The Best and Worst Paying States for Veterinarians: Methodology

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annually publishes comprehensive resource materials for each occupation within the U.S. economy. These guides detail the average annual wage for each occupation and also includes resources regarding projected growth outlooks, state and area data around employment and wages, and information about degree and licensing requirements. 

For the purpose of this study, the Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org analyzed the Bureau’s 2020 Report on Veterinarians with a specific focus on the annual mean wage within each state for veterinarians. The Team then compared this figure with the annual mean wage across all occupations in each state. Based on this value, each state was assigned a percentage, which signifies how much higher a veterinarian’s salary in that state is compared to the state’s average annual salary.  

For example: veterinarians in Arkansas make $110,480 a year. The average salary in this state across all occupations is $44,780. This makes a veterinarian’s salary 146.7% higher than the average salary in the state, putting Arkansas as the #1 highest paying state for veterinarians in the U.S. 

 

How Much Do Veterinarians Make Across the U.S.? 

To account for the typical variations in annual mean wage found across different regions in the U.S. (e.g. a veterinarian’s salary in Oklahoma amounting to $79,130 vs. a veterinarian’s salary in New York totaling $120,840) the Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org analyzed three figures: 

  • 1: The average annual salary for a veterinarian in each state
  • 2: The average annual salary across all occupations in each state
  • 3: The percentage by which a veterinarian’s salary is higher than the average salary in each state 

 

The Team’s rankings on highest and lowest paying states are based on the third figure in particular: the percentage by which a veterinarian’s salary is higher than the average salary in each state. The below map numbers all U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) on a scale of 1-51, with 1 representing the highest paying state for veterinarians and 51 indicating the lowest paying state for veterinarians. The dollar values displayed represent the average veterinary salary in that state. 

Overall, veterinarians across the nation are earning exceptionally great incomes. The lowest paying state for veterinarians (Washington) still sees a veterinary salary that’s over 50% higher than the state’s average salary. And when focusing solely on the dollar value of take-home pay, veterinarians in Oklahoma (where a vet’s average annual income is the lowest in the nation at $79,130) are still making almost 30% more than the national average salary across all occupations. 

how much do vets make

 

The Highest Paying States for Veterinarians  

Arkansas tops the list as the #1 highest paying state for veterinarians in the U.S. Despite only falling between the 50th and 75th percentile in terms of mean wages when compared to other states for the veterinary occupation, veterinarians in Arkansas still earn a mean annual salary that’s 146.7% higher than the average salary in the state. What’s more, veterinarians in the 90th percentile or higher in terms of pay in this state earn at minimum $166,440 per year–169% more than the state’s average annual salary.   

Other states that reign as high payers for veterinarians include South Carolina (where a veterinarian’s salary is 140.5% higher than the state’s average salary), West Virginia (136.5%), Idaho, (135.2%), Texas, (133.8%) and North Carolina (130.7%). Ohio, Florida, and Oregon also make the list. 

Of special note is Mississippi, which ranks #10 on the list of highest paying states. In terms of states where a veterinarian’s salary is actually the lowest based solely on a dollar value, Mississippi comes in at number 8. However, the state still makes the highest paying list due to the fact that veterinarians in this state make 115.4% more than the average salary in Mississippi. 

Almost half of the states on the highest paying list are also home to highly ranked schools of veterinary medicine. North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Florida all rank in the Top 10 for U.S. News & World Report’s Best Veterinary Schools.   

The 10 Highest Paying States for Veterinarians chart

 

The Lowest Paying States for Veterinarians  

Washington leads the pack when it comes to the lowest paying states for veterinarians. Veterinarians in this state earn an average salary of $102,080, which is lower than the national average for the occupation. Further, this figure is only 52.7% higher than the average salary across all occupations in Washington. Nonetheless, Washington has one of the highest employment levels of veterinarians in the U.S. In terms of employment per 1,000 jobs, it beats out heavy-hitting states like New York, California, Texas, and Florida. 

Other states that rank as the lowest payers for the veterinary occupation include Colorado (where a veterinarian’s salary is only 57.6% then the average salary in the state), Minnesota (58.0%), Massachusetts (59.2%), Alaska, (61.9%), and Oklahoma (67.2%). Nebraska, Connecticut, Montana, and New Mexico round out the list. Although nearly half of the states on this list allow veterinarians to bring home a six-figure salary each year, many of these states have higher than average salaries across all occupations, leading to lower percentage scores. 

Though not a state, the Team also took a look at Washington D.C.’s statistics and found it was the lowest paying region overall for veterinarians. Veterinarians in this area make $127,310, which is only 33.5% more than the average salary in the district. 

The 10 Lowest Paying States for Veterinarians

 

How Much Do Veterinarians Make Across the U.S.? Final Thoughts

All in all, from coast to coast, be it in the bustling cities of New York or the quiet farms of the Midwest, veterinarians are taking home an average annual income that’s significantly higher than the average annual salary across all occupations in the U.S. While states like Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and Texas may offer the opportunity to stretch an income a little further, even the lowest paying states may have perks of their own such as employment levels that are higher than average, as in the case of the state of Washington. 

Curious to see the full ranking of U.S. states? Explore the table below (or view it here) for the data on all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. 

This article was updated on November 8, 2021.