A career in veterinary medicine might sound like a dream job for animal lovers. But is being a vet all it’s cracked up to be? What do veterinarian stats tell us?

Just like any other medical profession, the path to becoming a vet isn’t easy, nor are the challenges and the stress that these professionals deal with daily.

Nevertheless, veterinarians report high levels of job satisfaction; they are well paid and get to work in diverse environments with patients of all species, shapes, and sizes.

Discover more about veterinarians by reading up on some of the fantastic and informative facts and stats we’ve compiled for you.

The Most Essential Vet Statistics to Remember 

  • Vets held around 84,500 jobs in 2018 in the US.
  • The median annual salary of veterinarians amounted to $93,830 in May 2018.
  • As of 2019, there were 13,323 veterinary students in the US.
  • There are 41 AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialties for professionals who want additional education.
  • The majority of vets work in private clinics and hospitals.
  • 79% of veterinarians work full-time and 21% work part-time, 2020 veterinarian stats show.
  • Spending on pets reached $95.7 billion in 2019.
  • Owners should take adult pets at least once a year to the vet for regular checkups.
  • 36% of dog owners and 31% of cat parents bought a brand of dry pet food within the last year based on their vet’s recommendation.
  • Veterinarians have a high degree of job satisfaction.

General Facts on Veterinarians

Did you know that over 85 million families in the United States own at least one pet and that more than 90% of owners think of their companions as a member of the family?

With these stats in mind, it’s not surprising that pet owners are so concerned with proper pet care or that veterinarian jobs are on the rise. 

1. Vets held around 84,500 jobs in 2018.

(BLS) (Data USA) (BLS)

Judging by how many veterinarians were employed in the U.S. in 2018, demand for vets has increased.

They had increased from 73,235 in 2017, and the number of veterinarians in the US is expected to reach 100,100 by 2028.

2. Job prospects for veterinarians are looking up.

(BLS)

The number of vets in the USA is projected to grow by 18% between 2018 and 2028. This is faster than the average for other occupations.

Veterinarian medicine has advanced considerably in recent years, while consumer spending on pets has increased. These are two factors that contribute to the fast-growing veterinarian job outlook in 2019 and beyond.

3. 500 counties in the US are underserved by veterinarians, most of which are in rural areas.

(Successful Farming)

One of the main reasons for the insufficient number of vets in rural areas includes lower salaries.

They are not enough to pay off the average $143,000 student debt of veterinarians. It also lacks interest, with just 10% of seniors at veterinary colleges interested in food animal medicine.

4. The median annual veterinarian salary amounted to $93,830 in May 2018.

(BLS)

Vets hired by veterinary services earn the highest salary ($94,130), although those employed by social advocacy organizations are not far behind their median annual wage was $93,900.

Government-employed and animal doctors providing educational services in schools and universities make an average of $90,000 and $80,410 a year, respectively.

Veterinarian Education Stats

To practice as a veterinarian in the US, one must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree.

Veterinary schools are quite competitive, and most of them favor applicants with a bachelor’s degree or at least some previous experience of working with animals in vet clinics, farms, or shelters.

5. As of 2019, there were 13,323 veterinary students in the US.

(AVMA) (AAVMC)

This is an increase of 2.3% from the previous year, vet school acceptance statistics reveal.

Around 3,000 students complete their education from colleges of veterinary medicine (CVMs) in the US every year.

6. There are 30 veterinary medicine schools or colleges in the US.

(AAVMC)

The low number of CVMs across the country has fueled the myth that getting into veterinary medicine college is difficult, but almost half of the candidates who apply end up attending courses.

7. Median tuition fees amount to $23,664 for in-state students and $50,123 for out-of-state students, veterinarian facts and information on educational costs show.

(AAVMC) (World Scholarship Forum)

The estimated costs for four years of veterinary school range from $148,807 to $407,983. These include tuition, fees, and average living expenses, meaning that they vary significantly from state to state. 

8. Over 16,500 veterinarians have been awarded Diplomate status (board certification) by at least one of the 22 AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialty Organizations.

(AVMA) (ACVECC) (The Balance Careers)

To get board-certified, vet facts indicate that animal doctors need to complete a three-year residency program after graduating from a veterinary school. 

Board certification is a demanding undertaking, yet salaries for board-certified vets are consistently higher than those who hold a regular DVM degree, so it’s well worth the trouble.

9. There are 41 AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialties for professionals who want additional education.

(AVMA) (The Balance Careers)

After achieving board certification, vets can move on to specialty areas, such as nutrition, internal medicine, and surgery. 

According to the 2011 AVMA report on veterinary compensation, the highest paying veterinary specialty is ophthalmology — the highest median yearly income recorded in this area was $199,000.

What Do Vets Do?

There are several types of veterinarians, the most common ones being companion animal vets.

These vets mostly treat cats and dogs, although veterinarians who work in clinical practices take care of a variety of animals. 

In addition to these, there are also food animal vets, who work with farm animals, and research veterinarians — focused on diseases affecting both animals and humans.

10. The majority of vets work in private clinics and hospitals.

(BLS)

The working conditions of a veterinarian can vary from farms and zoos to private clinics.

Veterinary services employ the most significant number of vets (78%), followed by self-employed veterinarians (14%), and the government (3%).

Social advocacy organizations and education services employ only 1% of vets each. The remaining 3% are unnamed. 

11. 77% of veterinarians are companion animal vets.

(Career Cornerstone Center)

Not all vets treat cats and dogs, though. 

Around 16% of veterinarians work in private and mixed animal practices. Well-known veterinarian facts about the job show that they deal with a wide variety of pets, as well as farm animals and wild animals.

12. As of 2017, 5.7% of vets work only with horses.

(The Balance Careers)

Equine vets account for around 4,000 of all veterinarians in the US, whereas an additional 4,220 vets work in mixed animal practices.

Almost half of the equine vets in the US deal with performance horses.

13. The number of veterinary clinics in the US ranges between 28,000 and 32,000.

(AVMA) (Successful Farming)

Mars Inc., the company that owns M&Ms, Pedigree, and Iams, is the biggest employer of vets around the world. 

Mars Inc. is said to own over 2,000 veterinary hospitals in America and Europe and employ more than 50,000 veterinarians.

As with everything else, corporations seem to be taking over veterinary practices. Approximately 3,500 practices in the US are corporate-owned.

14. 79% of veterinarians work full-time and 21% work part-time, 2020 veterinarian stats show.

(CareerExplorer) (BLS)

Although most vets work 40 hours a week, many of them also work nights and weekends, and they are often called in outside working hours to deal with an emergency.

Pet Owners and Veterinarians

Vets are the most crucial ally pet owners have when it comes to providing the best possible pet care for their beloved companions.

Many pet parents might cringe at vet bills.

Still, they should remember one of the most basic facts about veterinarians and pet welfare — regular checkups and vaccines can help prevent many diseases affecting both animals and people.

15. The pet industry reached $95.7 billion in 2019.

(PR Newswire)

The amount of money owners spend on furry friends is set to increase in 2020 to a staggering $99 billion.

Spending on vet care and product sales amounted to $29.3 billion in 2019 and was ranked third in overall pet expenditure, veterinarian facts and figures on pet spending reveal.

16. The average cost of a physical exam ranges between $45 and $55.

(Wellness Pet Food)

The average cost of a routine annual veterinary exam is between $200 and $400 for dogs and from $90 to $200 for felines.

However, the real expenses lie in unexpected diagnosis or unpredicted events, such as accidents, injuries, and diseases.

A veterinarian might charge $1,000 or more for emergency treatment.

17. Dental disease is the most expensive health cost for canine owners, veterinary statistics show.

(American Veterinarian)

Merely one dental disease treatment for dogs can cost up to $400.

For cat parents, on the other hand, diabetes is the costliest condition, with expenses reaching as high as $889 per feline.

18. Owners should take adult pets at least once a year to the vet for regular checkups.

(WebMD)

Pets aged one to 10 years should have at least one yearly checkup with their chosen veterinarians, facts and recommendations for proper cat and dog care say.

Two annual checkups are recommended for senior pets, whereas kittens and puppies should visit the vet every three to four weeks until they are four months old.

19. 36% of dog owners and 31% of cat owners bought a brand of dry pet food within the last year based on their vet’s recommendation.

(Petfood Forum) (VetConnection.co.uk)

Across the pond, however, 94% of British people said that they trust vets completely, making them more trustworthy than GPs and dentists.

Interesting Facts About Veterinarians

A little known fact about vets: the term veterinarian actually comes from the Latin word veterinae, which means “working animals” when translated.

Moreover, it was first used in print by Thomas Browne back in 1646. 

Let’s check out some more fun info on vets.

20. The first veterinary school opened in Lyons, France, in 1761, marking the official start of veterinary medicine.

(SGU) (CANIDAE)

It was founded by Dr. Claude Bourgelat, whose initial motivation for establishing the school was preventing the spread of a deadly livestock disease known as rinderpest, historical veterinarian information and facts teach us.

21. Just like human doctors, vets must also take an oath.

(AVMA)

When veterinarians finish school, they need to make an oath promising that they will use their skills and knowledge for the benefit and protection of animals.

22. Veterinarians have a high degree of job satisfaction.

(AVMA)

An older 2008 study revealed that veterinarians scored a 3.55 job satisfaction rating, which is well above the average 3.30.

Interestingly, food animal veterinarians had the highest level of job satisfaction — 3.69.

23. Over 60% of vets in the US are women.

(Successful Farming) (AVMA)

How many veterinarians are there in the U.S. 2018 by gender? A total of  69,908 female vets, as opposed to just 43,345 male veterinarians, treat animals in the US. 

FAQ

24. What is the highest paying state for veterinarians?

(Forbes) (Insider Monkey)

With a mean annual salary of $198,340, Hawaii pays vets the most — not just in the US but in the world as well.

25. How many animals does a vet see a day?

(VIN)

The number of patients a vet sees a day depends on many factors, the most important one being how much time a veterinarian allocates to each patient. 

For instance, a vet that sees 40 patients a day should examine an animal every 15 minutes for 8 hours without a break.

Other factors include the seriousness of the condition, the working pace of the vet, and the number of walk-ins.

26. What is the average age of a veterinarian?

(Data USA)

The average age for a vet is 44.5.

Interestingly, male vets are 8.36 older than female ones — the median age for male vets is 49.9 and 41.5 for female veterinarians.

27. How long is veterinary school?

(BLS)

A veterinary medicine program usually takes four years to complete.

That’s three years of classroom, lab and clinical work, and a year of clinical rotations in a veterinary hospital or medical center.

28. What is the best part of being a veterinarian?

(CareerVillage)

Most vets would say that the list of good things when it comes to being a vet is endless. Still, many veterinarians agree that helping sick animals is one of the best parts about the job. 

Developing a strong bond with the community or doing ground-breaking research are just some of the many other positive aspects of this line of work.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, by reading these veterinarian stats, you got a much better idea of what it takes to be a vet and some of the risks and rewards they face in their line of work.

Perhaps these facts will inspire you to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Or they just might help you gain a greater appreciation of vets and the role they play in the lives of both pets and owners.

Sometimes that’s more than enough to make these professionals happy.

Sources

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