Being a veterinarian is one of the highest-paying animal jobs in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly pay for veterinarians is $52.09, which translates to a mean annual salary of $108,350, with the top earners getting more than $164,490 a year.
Upon graduating, you will have to find a place to work. So, where do veterinarians work and what are their specific roles?
This article will highlight the most realistic places you can find work as a veterinary medicine graduate.
Where do veterinarians work?
After pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine, the following are the most ideal places to find work:
Animal hospitals and clinics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest number of veterinarians work in animal hospitals & clinics. Some vets choose to run their own clinics while others opt for mobile clinics aimed at providing convenience to animal owners and minimize stress to animals.
While most animal hospitals and clinics provide services to almost all animals, some are incredibly specific and focus on providing quality services and care to specific animals. Some may even offer specialty services such as dentistry.
Zoos and aquariums
Veterinarians can also work in zoos and aquariums to ensure animals stay healthy and to aid in conservation efforts and public education. You will need to have good observation skills because most animals in zoos and aquariums tend to hide any signs of illness or weakness as a survival mechanism.
Animal farms and ranches
Vets who choose to specialize in large animals can work in animal farms and ranches treating cows, horses, pigs, sheep, and other large animals. Some of their roles include treating sick or injured animals, implementing disease prevention measures, and being involved in livestock breeding.
Some veterinarians who specialize in large animals can spend a substantial amount of their time traveling to different animal farms and ranches. This is an ideal working environment if you do not mind occasional work-related road trips.
Animal shelters are one of the most common places where veterinarians work. The duties of animal shelter veterinarians include keeping pets in the shelters healthy and assessing the health conditions of new pets when they are brought in. They also work to help find permanent homes for the pets and help keep the animal population in the shelters in check.
Veterinary medicine graduates can also opt to promote animal welfare through research. Research animal veterinarians work with lab animals and their responsibilities may include providing veterinary care for the animals, conducting research, monitoring disease control programs, and serving in committees involved in animal care and use.
Veterinarians who pursue careers in biomedical research focus on finding solutions to improve animal and human health. According to American Veterinary Medical Association, some of the roles of these veterinarians include carrying out research on fields such as food security & safety, infections & zoonotic diseases, and environmental issues entwined with animal health.
Food processing plants
Veterinarians can also work in food processing plants that process animals or manufacture animal products. Their tasks include ensuring the animals are treated humanely, testing for drug residues, enforcing regulations, and evaluating facility conditions. The work they do plays an invaluable role in preventing foodborne diseases and improve the lives of food animals.
Universities and colleges
Other places where veterinarians work are academic institutions such as universities and colleges. They work as professors teaching veterinary medicine students. They equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to enjoy a successful career as veterinarians. Most veterinarians who teach in universities and colleges can also be involved in research.
There are also veterinarians who choose to work in natural habitats such as national parks and similar facilities to help rehabilitate injured wild animals, protect game populations, and address specific health concerns facing wild animals. It’s an ideal setting if you prefer working outdoors and with wild animals.
Being an equine veterinarian is one of the highest-paying jobs for horse lovers. These professionals work with racehorses and their duties include collecting blood samples for drug testing, tending to injuries, carrying out vaccinations, and doing routine health exams. Some equine veterinarians specialize in areas such as dental care, lameness, or reproduction.
There are many animal charities that employ vets to treat pets whose owners cannot afford the fees at private clinics or animal hospitals. These charities can provide free treatments or charge lower fees. A good example is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which also treats wildlife from illnesses or injuries.
Royal Army Veterinary Corps
If you have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine, you can join the army as a veterinary officer to care for military working animals such as dogs. If you would like to join the army as a veterinarian, you can seek financial aid through their bursary scheme to help with the cost of your veterinary degree.
FAQs About Veterinarians
Let’s have a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about veterinarians such as questions about their annual salaries and where to find veterinary jobs.
How much do veterinarians make?
As of August 2021, the median annual wage for veterinarians in the United States is $99,250 with the mean annual wage being $108,350. The highest-paid 25% earn more than $126,260 a year while the lowest-paid 25% earn less than $79,430 a year.
Where do veterinarians make the most money?
The top-paying states for veterinarians in the U.S. are New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and Oregon. The mean annual wage in these states is more than $122,840 while the mean hourly rates range between $59 and $62.
Is veterinary medicine a good career?
Veterinary medicine is among the best-paying careers for animal lovers, with the potential to earn more than $125,000 a year. However, the pay is not as good as that of human doctors (physicians) and you also have to complete a 4-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree after completing college. This means 8 years of study after graduating high school.
The programs you can enroll in include Bachelor of Veterinary Science, Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine, or Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery.
We have highlighted some of the most common places where veterinarians work. On top of that, we have also highlighted how much veterinarians make a year in the United States, the best paying states for veterinarians, and whether veterinary medicine is a good career.