Veterinarian statistics paint an interesting picture of what being a vet is like. And it’s not all about cute puppies. It often includes long work hours, heavy night shifts, chronically ill animals, ever-increasing student debts, and psychological stress.

By knowing more about this profession, we can appreciate the hard work vets put in every day. Keep on reading to learn what they go through, and don’t forget to be kind to your veterinarian.

Fascinating Veterinarians Statistics

  • In 2020, veterinarians earned $99,250 per year, or $47.72 per hour on average.
  • Veterinarians in rural areas earn significantly less — between $61,470 and $73,540 a year.
  • Veterinary employment is expected to grow by 16% from 2019 to 2029.
  • About 123,472 veterinarians are currently practicing in the US.
  • 74,554 of all vets work in private clinics.
  • 66.5% of the private clinics’ veterinarians work with companion animals only.
  • Veterinarians are 2.8 times more likely to commit suicide than the general US population.
  • Median vet tuition fees amount from $23,664 to $50,123 per year.
  • As of 2018, 5.6% of vets work only with horses.
  • The average vet age is 44.5 years.

What Is a Veterinarian?

Veterinarian job statistics provide an excellent overview of the profession — long shifts, stressful atmosphere, and many bitey patients. Being a vet is not for everyone. It’s a mission.

Having a trustworthy veterinarian at your side is crucial. They’ll recommend high-quality pet food, the best dog DNA test, and even give you advice on how to potty train your puppy.

The demand for veterinary care is rising annually, so it’s essential to know about the challenges and hardships these doctors face.

General Facts About Veterinarians

Veterinarian industry statistics show that the field is growing continuously. But most vets work with pet animals like cats and dogs, and the need for large animal specialists is increasing.

1. There Are About 123,472 Veterinarians Currently Practicing in the US.

(Source: AVMA)

  • Those who work with mixed animals are 5.6%.
  • Food animal exclusive practices are only 1.7%.
  • Most vets choose to work with companion animals — 66.5%.

Wondering how many veterinarians are there in the US? Well, it sounds like a lot, but they’re never enough.

In rural areas, the demand for vet care is hardly satisfied. Fewer and fewer veterinarians choose to work with food animals (e.g., chicken, cows, pigs), and one of the main reasons is the pay gap between them and vets specializing in pet care.

2. The Number of US Vets Has Increased By 20,728 Since 2012, According to Veterinarian Job Statistics.

(Source: AVMA)

  • 79.3% of veterinarians work in private clinics.
  • 40.8% of vets in public and corporate sectors are also employed at universities and colleges.
  • Vet sector employment is expected to grow by 16% from 2019 to 2029.

The veterinarian statistics on the increasing number of US vets are striking. Usually, most professions have an expected growth of up to 5% — more than three times less than what’s expected from the veterinary industry.

World Veterinarian Statistics

The world is desperate for more veterinarian professionals. The demand is growing significantly in rural places without easy access to big clinics. The vet visit prices are also on the rise. Some people find it impossible to care for their pets on the level they wish they could.

On the brighter side, the average vet salary is growing, which may persuade more people to join the profession.

3. The US Has the Highest Average Per Capita Spending on Vet Services — $162.

(Source: Statista)

  • In contrast, China spends only $7 per capita.
  • Globally, around 40% of all vets’ work is routine examinations.
  • The vet care demand is rising in China since 8% of families living in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities own a pet.

Veterinarian jobs statistics in the US compared to the rest of the world show how expensive US animal care services are. An American pays almost twice as much as a British ($93) and more than three times a Japanese ($42).

dog, veterinary, pet

4. The Global Veterinary Service Market Was Estimated at $96.9 Billion in 2020.

(Source: Business Wire)

  • It’s expected that the market price will reach $120 billion by 2027.
  • The companion animal sector is predicted to increase by 4.2% by 2027.
  • The Chinese veterinary market is expected to grow at a rate of 5.6% between 2020 and 2027.

The world population is growing, and so is the need for specialists that can take care of the rising animal numbers. One of the main reasons the vet market is fast on the rise is the increased abundance of chronic animal diseases.

Veterinarian Statistics in the USA

Now that we know about vets worldwide, let’s focus on those that live and work in the US. 

What are the working conditions for US vets? Which states pay the best salaries? And how much can a single MRI scan cost you if your pet doesn’t have insurance? Let’s find out.

5. The Average Veterinarian Stays at Their Job for Only 1–2 Years.

(Source: Zippa)

  • Since 2013, the veterinary unemployment rate has decreased from 1% to 0.2%.
  • Only 12% of vets remain at their job for more than 11 years.
  • 36% of veterinarians work at companies with between 1,000–10,000 employees.
  • According to veterinarian statistics on owner compliance, the overall median compliance is 56%.

More and more veterinarian graduates manage to find jobs each year as unemployment is decreasing. That’s amazing. The profession is highly paid, and there’s an ongoing demand for vets worldwide.

Interestingly, while animal owners seek vet advice constantly, only half seem to comply with the recommendations. Sadly, some animals rely on medications to survive. So realizing what a small percentage of people listen to their vets is astonishing.

6. Veterinarian Statistics in California Show 70% of the State Veterinarians Were Female in 2019.

(Source: University of California)

  • In 2018, male veterinarians were offered around $3,000 more than their female counterparts for a starting position.
  • That’s still an improvement, as the pay gap has decreased from 9% to 3% from 2012 to 2018.
  • In 2017, new female veterinarians had $9,149 more vet college debt than the male ones.

So not only do female veterinarians start their professional lives in greater debt, but they also get significantly lower salary offers. It’s a shame that we’re still experiencing such atrocious pay gaps that put women at a vast disadvantage. Not to mention that, generally, vets who have children earn less than those without.

7. Rural Veterinarian Shortage Statistics Show These Vets Earn Between $61,470 and $73,540 a Year.

(Source: BLS)

  • In 2017, approximately 187 rural US areas experienced a veterinary shortage.
  • Less than 10% of veterinary graduates take a rural job.
  • It’s anticipated that there will be a shortage of approximately 15,000 veterinarians by 2025, and most will be needed in rural areas.

The rural veterinarians receive highly insufficient payment to cover their college debts. Also, working there makes vets more susceptible to zoonotic diseases. They’re more likely to come from cows, pigs, and chickens than from pets like dogs and cats.

8. Veterinarian Statistics Show That 6.2 Million Households Own a Small Pet.

(Source: APPA)

  • The US is home to 14 million small pet animals.
  • Annual veterinary care for small animals, like hamsters, costs between $30 and $90 per pet.
  • A pet MRI can cost you up to $2,500 per scan.

You can always count on your vet for advice — from telling you which food is best for your senior dog to whether pet insurance is worth it. And considering the high prices of US medical pet procedures, you might want to invest in insurance.

How Much Do Vets Earn?

Veterinarian statistics show this is among the best-paid US professions. Receiving a salary just to pet cute fluffy puppies all day? How is that possible?

Well, it’s not. The veterinary profession is a stressful one. Most vets work an insane amount of hours, combined with night shifts and emergency calls. But let’s check the stats.

9. In 2020, Veterinarians Earned $99,250 per Year and $47.72 per Hour on Average.

(Source: BLS.GOV)

  • From the best-paid 25%, the average income of a veterinarian is about $122,590.
  • The lowest 25% make approximately $75,580.
  • The veterinarian starting salary is around $69,000.

Veterinarians earn a lot of money, but it’s not for nothing. Like other doctors, vets are under a huge amount of stress daily. They deal with diseased animals, angry owners, and a high risk of being bitten by their patients.

10. Veterinarians Usually Work Full-Time, 40 Hours a Week.

(Source: BLS)

  • About 18% of vets are self-employed.
  • About 1 in 3 veterinarians work 50+ hours per week.
  • The average turnover in vet clinics is 23% per year.

How many hours does a vet work? Well, most veterinarians work full-time or approximately 40 hours per week. But overtime work, heavy night shifts, and emergency calls are relatively common in this profession. So appreciate your vet, they work hard to keep your pet healthy.

dog being monitored with computer in a veterinary office

Veterinarian Education Statistics

Becoming a vet isn’t easy. You’ll need around four years at college or university to get your Bachelor’s degree. Then, you might get a Master’s for another year or two. Not to mention the insanely high student debt you’ll gather during this time.

Being a veterinarian is a noble profession, and while it’s incredibly stressful, it’s also rewarding.

11. The Most Common Degree for a Veterinarian Is the Batchelor’s — 39% of Them Have It.

(Source: Zippa)

  • Only 6% of vets have a Master’s degree.
  • About 28% of veterinarians go for a doctorate.
  • 46% of veterinarians have majored in Veterinary Medicine.

As you can see, a vet doesn’t need a Master’s or Ph.D. to become a practitioner. But these specializations will increase your chances of getting a job and a higher salary.

12. In 2019, US Institutions Had 13,323 Veterinary Students — 2.3% More Than Previous Years.

(Source: Zippa)

  • Out of these 13,323 students, 19.6% come from historically underrepresented minorities in veterinary medicine. 
  • Statistics of becoming a veterinarian show that cell biology, anatomy, animal health science, and physiology are the most popular modules at vet schools.
  • Colorado State University is the most common place for a vet degree — 8.58% of veterinarians go there.

The demand for veterinarians is rising, but, thankfully, more and more students pursue this noble profession every year.

And what’s even more fascinating is that this white people dominated profession is slowly but surely starting to embrace diversity and welcome more historically underrepresented minorities.

13. The Average Veterinary Student Debt Was $150,000 in 2019.

(Source: AVMA)

  • Veterinary student debt can go up to $400,000.
  • A graduate might need to pay around $2,000 a month for 10 years, depending on the student debt amount.
  • In 2019, 18% of graduates reported no debt — the highest percentage since 2001.

You can easily imagine the stress debt causes students. Veterinarian statistics uncover that the pressure to find a well-paid job and start returning this money before gathering interest is a lot to handle. 

What Does the Veterinarian Job Involve?

That’s an easy one — We know that vets work with animals. But what do they do exactly? How many vets work for zoos or specialize in horse care? Let’s find out.

14. As of 2018, 5.6% of Vets Work Only With Horses.

(Source: AVMA)

  • Nearly 50% of all equine veterinarians work with performance horses.
  • The other half of horse vets are involved in racing, farming, and reproductive work.
  • Sherman-Denison, Texas, is one of the highest-paying metropolitan areas for equine veterinarians. The average annual salary there is $210,960

Horses are majestic animals that require a lot of care and dedication. Racing horses, in particular, do a great deal of daily exercise, so the equine vet is usually the owner’s best friend.

15. According to Zoo Veterinarian Statistics, a Vet Needs Two to Five Years of Experience to Practice.

(Source: LandYourLife)

  • Zoo veterinarians often work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 10% of all veterinarians work with exotic animals.
  • Zoo elephants live 16.9 years in captivity but up to 35.9 in the wild — this highlights the need for specialized zoo vet care.

Your vet can recommend the best joint supplement for your dogs. While it might sound like an easy thing, they’ve spent years at college to learn how to decide what’s best.

Zoo vets have even more challenging jobs and studying requirements. Working with exotic animals can cost you your life if you’re not careful, and the long work hours can be incredibly stressful and draining.

Veterinarian Statistics on Gender, Race, and Age Composition

It’s interesting to see diversity in the veterinary profession in gender, race, and age. Underrepresentation is an issue in many occupations, and the gender pay gap is still real in the 21st century.

So let’s see what the numbers on these issues tell us about the vet world.

16. Millennials represent 35.1% of Veterinarians, Gen X — 34.6%, Baby Boomers — 29.9%, and Silents — 0.4%.

(Source: APPA)

  •  Out of all generations, Millenials own the most pets — 32%.
  • Veterinarian statistics show that the average vet age is 44.5.
  • The average male vet age is 51.5 years, while for females, it’s 40.8.

We’re not surprised that Millennials have the most pets. After all, most of us love our fluffy friends more than we love people in general.

a veterinarian getting the blood pressure measurements of a dog

17. 63% of Veterinarians Are Women.

(Source: DataUSA)

  • In 2017, more than 80% of vet students were women.
  • Since 2011, we’ve seen a 12% increase in women vets.
  • Vets working with farm animals are 80% male.

Women have been dominating the veterinary profession for years. 

18. 89.1% of All Veterinarians Are White.

(Source: DataUSA)

  • Only 1.7% of veterinarians belong to the black race.
  • The second most common race among veterinarians is Asian — 4.23%.
  • 1.4% of veterinarians are American Indians.

Minority underrepresentation in the veterinary profession has always been a problem. Learning more about this massive issue can help find solutions.

Statistics on the Stress on Veterinarian Professionals

Being a veterinarian means dealing with diseased animals in severe pain, which affects veterinarians’ mental health.

19. 98% of Vets Experiencing Psychological Stress Report Having Depression.

(Source: AAHA)

  • 88% of veterinarians report experiencing burnout.
  • Anxiety is the third most common issue among vets — 83% of professionals have it.
  • 67% of veterinarians rated high student debt as a critically important issue.

Depression, anxiety, and burnout are among the main vet stressors. If you’re struggling with any of these, seek help. It can happen to everyone. You’re not weak if you ask for support.

20. Veterinarian Suicide Statistics Show Female Vets Are 3.5 Times More Likely to Die From Suicide Than the General Public.

(Source: CDC)

  • Meanwhile, male vets are 2.1 times more likely to take their own lives compared to the general public.
  • The suicide mortality rate has been high in the veterinary profession since the 80s.
  • 37% of deaths by suicide among veterinarians were by poisoning.
  • The leading suicide causes among vets include the long work hours and the ever-increasing student debt.

Veterinarian job statistics show that vets often suffer from depression, and many commit suicide every year. Implementing free mental health consultations, therapy, and shorter working hours for people in this profession might be the key to decreasing the severity of this problem.

Conclusion

The veterinary profession is incredibly rewarding. You get to work with cute fluffy animals all day and keep them happy and healthy. People love you (at least before you hand them the bill) and trust you more than they trust their own doctors.

But you should consider the continuous increase of veterinary student debt, skyrocketing stress levels, and long work hours before deciding on this profession. 

Learning the crucial veterinarian statistics can help us appreciate the hard work of vets and the hardships they face daily. Be nice to your vet. They’re going through a lot to keep your fluffy friends healthy.

Sources:

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Miglena loves spending time with friends and talking about science over a glass of wine. Born and raised in a small town, she’s always been surrounded by animals. Cats, dogs, chickens, cows, and goats have all been her companions from an early age. Her passion for the animal kingdom became even stronger after she went to study microbiology in Scotland. Miglena’s love for writing, combined with her curiosity, makes her a valuable member of the pawsome advice team.