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From financial factors to shifting demographics, we’re bringing you the 2024 veterinary industry stats you need to know. Dive into our complete guide to learn about the costs of attending and graduating veterinary school, the salaries of veterinary professionals, and the latest changes and trends defining the space.

Plus, we’ll discuss different statistics about pet owners, like how many households in the United States have pets and how much is spent each year ensuring their furry family members receive the best care. There’s a lot of eye-opening and insightful information to chat through to make sure you have a solid grasp of the economic and social dynamics of today’s veterinary world—so let’s jump in!

How much do veterinarians make in the United States?

Veterinarians in the United States are among the highest-paid professionals in the world. If you’re considering a career in veterinary medicine, or simply want to know more about how much veterinarians make in different states compared to their cost of living, we’ve put together data from the latest 2024 survey to keep you in the financial know.

Veterinary salary ranges in the United States:

Based on recent data, these are the average low, mid, and high-range salaries for veterinarians in the United States: 

  • Low Range: $91,000
  • Mid Range: $135,000
  • High Range: $173,000

These earnings focus on general practice, small animal veterinarians who have one to four years of professional experience. More seasoned professionals—those with more than five years of experience—can expect to see a pay increase of at least 25%. Veterinarians with significant surgical roles may see a rise of over 35%, while those who specialize in emergency, referral, surgical, medicine, oncology, or ophthalmology may take in 50% more than base salaries.1

What are the top 10 highest-paying states for veterinarians in 2024?

The states paying veterinarians the highest salaries in 2024 are:2

  1. California: $156,280
  2. Hawaii: $154,089
  3. Texas: $153,475
  4. New Jersey: $152,555
  5. Maryland: $152,025
  6. Rhode Island: $151,050
  7. Washington D.C.: $150,350
  8. Connecticut: $146,987
  9. Oregon: $144,778
  10. Massachusetts: $144,045

Factors that influence high salaries for veterinarians:

A few things that contribute toward higher veterinarian salaries are:2

  • Cost of Living: It’s more expensive to live in states like California and New Jersey, which leads to higher salaries.
  • Demand for Specialized Services: States that are more urban, such as California and Texas, have a greater demand for specialized veterinary services and, as a result, offer higher pay.
  • Proximity to Known Veterinary Schools: Salaries tend to be higher in states with renowned veterinary institutions due to the concentration of educated veterinary professionals in the area, as well as these states having more advanced practices.

Accepting a new veterinarian role? First, consider the cost of living:

We get it—higher salaries are more attractive. However, because living expenses, housing costs, and other factors vary state by state, it’s crucial to consider how much money it will cost to live comfortably where your new position is located.

Veterinarians are paid well throughout the world and especially in states like California, Hawaii, and Texas, but understanding the cost of living is vital for enjoying a better quality of life. As the industry evolves, it’s important for both current and future veterinary professionals to stay in the know when it comes to financial insights like these, ensuring a more comfortable lifestyle that rewards them for the hard work they put in.

How much does it cost to attend and graduate from veterinary school?

Faced with challenging academics and costly financial commitments, the dedication veterinary students show throughout their education is a direct reflection of the loyal care veterinary professionals provide throughout their career. It’s an admirable, ambitious journey with years of intensive study and practical training—not to mention tuition fees and living expenses that can quickly add up.

We’ve broken it down to show you how much veterinary school costs to attend in the United States, as well as the typical amount of debt for veterinary graduates:

Veterinary School Costs:

  • The average veterinary school tuition for in-state residents is around $200,000 for the entire 4-year program.  For out-of-state students, the average total tuition is around $275,000.3
  • Costs can range from $78,479 to $155,295 for in-state students and $131,200 to $285,367 for out-of-state students at different veterinary schools.4
  • At some private schools, tuition and fees can range from around $19,600 to over $60,000 per year.4,5,6,7
  • Aside from tuition, veterinary students must also account for living expenses, books, supplies, transportation, and more, which can add an additional $25,000 to $35,000 per year.6,7

Typical Debt Levels:

  • The average debt from student loans for graduating veterinarians is around $150,000 to $200,000.3,5
  • Some sources estimate it can take 20 to 25 years for veterinarian students to pay off their student debt from school.4
  • Since the average starting salary for veterinarians is around $90,000, the burden of high debt is a big issue.3,5
  • Veterinary students often have to rely on federal unsubsidized and PLUS loans to cover these high expenses.3

Pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree is certainly an expensive endeavor, with total costs ranging from $150,000 to more than $400,000 for private, out-of-state programs.3,4,5,6 As a result, most veterinarian graduates carry debt of $150,000 to $200,000—or more—from student loans.3,5

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How much do veterinary practice managers make in the United States?

Veterinary practice managers are the backbone of the business, handling everything from administrative tasks and staff management to financial oversight and customer service. We’ll cover what they make on average, and how their role compares to others in the field.

Veterinary practice manager salary ranges in the United States

The average salary for veterinary practice managers ranges from $44,000 to $133,000.8,9,10 This wide range is likely due to different data sources saying different things about the role of practice managers, like their location, experience levels, and specific responsibilities. Just as veterinarians’ salaries are affected, location and cost of living are two factors that impact the salary ranges for practice managers.

Which companies offer the highest salaries for veterinary practice managers in the United States?

The companies offering the highest salaries for veterinary practice managers in 2024 include:8

  • VCA
  • Mission Veterinary Partners
  • Thrive Pet Healthcare
  • Heartland Veterinary Partners
  • National Veterinary Associates 

How does a veterinary practice manager’s salary compare to other animal care professionals?

Veterinary practice managers earn significantly less than veterinarians with an average salary between $44,000 and $133,000,8,9,10,11 compared to the $91,000 to $173,0001 range that veterinarians typically make. Meanwhile, the average salary for veterinary technicians is around $37,860,12 and the average salary of general animal care and service workers (like groomers and kennel staff) is closer to $28,380 per year.8,10,11

As a result, practice manager salaries fall between the salaries of veterinarians and technicians, earning around 50% to 250% more than veterinary technicians and more than double the average of what general care and service workers make. That means while practice managers are paid well above entry-level positions, the veterinarians they support and manage earn a higher salary.8,9,10,11

What do the current demographics look like for veterinary professionals in the United States?

The veterinary industry in the United States has experienced some notable shifts in demographics, which mirrors changes in society and evolving industry trends. In the past, the veterinary space has been historically dominated by men. More recently, however, we’ve seen a significant increase in women veterinary doctors and professionals, who now represent a substantial majority of recent graduates and practicing professionals.

The profession is also becoming more diverse, though there is still considerable work to be done in creating greater representation of everyone. Age is also a shifting demographic in the industry, with a growing number of younger veterinarians entering the field and bringing fresh perspectives with innovative approaches to patient care. 

To break it down, we’ll run through more detailed demographics of veterinary professionals in the United States:

Gender: 62.9% of veterinarians are female, while 37.1% are male. The gender ratio has shifted significantly over the years, with females making up only 50.1% in 2010, but 62.9% by 2021.13


  • 83.1% of veterinarians are White
  • 6.1% are Hispanic or Latino
  • 4.8% are Asian
  • 1.4% are Black or African American
  • 0.3% are American Indian and Alaska Native

Age:13 The average age of veterinarians is 43 years old. 57% are over 40 years old, 36% are between 30 to 40 years, and 8% are 20 to 30 years old.

LGBT:13 15% of veterinarians identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.


  • 44% of veterinarians hold a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education.
  • 32% hold a doctorate degree (DVM or equivalent).
  • 7% hold a master’s degree.

Employment: 52% of veterinarians work at private companies, compared to 24% of veterinarians who work at educational institutions and 15% in government roles.13 66.6% work exclusively with companion animals, like dogs and cats.14

What states have the most open positions for veterinarians?

As of May 2024, the states with the most open veterinarian positions are:16

  1. California: 1000+ positions
  2. Texas: 700+ positions
  3. New York: 400+ positions
  4. Pennsylvania: 300+ positions
  5. Washington: 280+ positions
  6. Michigan: 260+ positions
  7. New Jersey: 250+ positions
  8. Arizona: 250 positions
  9. Ohio: 230+ positions
  10. Florida: 200+ positions

The large number of open veterinarian positions in states like California, Texas, and New York is likely from their large populations of pet owners, as well as having more prominent veterinary schools and practices.16 All in all, states with major metropolitan areas and high demand for veterinary services tend to have the most open positions for veterinarians.16,17

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10 things to keep in mind about pet parents in 2024:

We’ve put together a few statistics about pet owners in 2024 for veterinarians and veterinary professionals to take note of, including the role pets play in our households, the generational differences in pet ownership, the finances of pet care, and more.

  1. 66% of US households—86.9 million homes—own a pet, which is a significant increase from 1988 when only 56% of households owned a pet.18,19
  2. There are 65.1 million US households that own dogs, and 46.5 million households that own cats.19,20
  3. Millennials are the largest pet-owning generation, accounting for 33% of all pet owners, followed by Gen X (25%) and Baby Boomers (24%).19,21
  4. Rural Americans are more likely to own pets (71%) compared to those in suburban (62%) and urban areas (53%).18,19
  5. 42% of pet owners report that they can’t cover an unexpected veterinary bill of $999 or less without going into debt.19
  6. Dog owners spend, on average, between $1600 to $3000 per year on their dog, including veterinary care.22,23 Annual costs vary depending on the dog’s breed, location, and lifestyle.
  7. Veterinary care included, cat owners spend an average of $1500 to $4000 per year on their cat.24,25 Just like dogs, these yearly costs depend on the cat’s breed, location, and lifestyle.
  8. 97% of pet owners view their pets as family members, with 51% considering them as much a part of the family as human members are.18,19
  9. 42% of dog owners—and 43% of cat owners—acquired their pets from a store. Meanwhile, 38% of dog owners and 40% of cat owners got their pets from an animal shelter or rescue.19
  10. Wyoming has a higher pet ownership rate in 2024 than any other US state.18

It’s important for veterinarians and veterinary professionals to understand today’s dynamics of pet ownership. 66% of US households now own pets, proving that the demand for veterinary services only continues to grow. With annual pet costs varying depending on factors such as breed, location, and lifestyle, meeting the unique needs of both pet owners and their pets through customized solutions and treatment plans is crucial. Above all, veterinarians and veterinary professionals should remain vigilant to the latest data and trends to meet pet owners—and their pets—where they are.

How much do Americans spend annually on pet care and veterinary services?

In 2023, Americans spent a total of $147 billion on their pets.26,27 Here’s how that number is made up:

  • Food and Treats: $64.4 billion27
  • Care and Products: $38.3 billion27
  • Supplies and Medicine: $32 billion27
  • Other Services (like training and grooming): $12.3 billion27

Thanks to improvements in both research and technology, Americans saw a substantial increase in spending on veterinary care and products than previous years, spending $38.3 billion on things like procedures and pharmaceuticals in 2023 alone.27

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that the total of pet industry spending in the US will reach $150.6 billion in 2024, with veterinary care and products accounting for $39.1 billion of that amount.27

These numbers show just how financially invested Americans are in caring for their pets, with veterinary services and products accounting for over a quarter ($38.3 billion out of $147 billion) of total industry spending in 2023.

How much should pet parents plan to spend on veterinary care for the life of their pets?

Dog Owners Spend:

  • The lifetime cost of owning a dog ranges from $20,000 to $55,000, with a significant portion going toward care expenses.28,29,30
  • In just the first year, dog owners can expect to spend between $1,300 to $2,800 on veterinary care and expenses, like spaying and neutering or vaccinations.28,30

Cat Owners Spend:

  • The lifetime care for a cat costs between $15,000 and $45,000.31,32
  • Cat owners should plan to spend around $960 to $2,500 on expenses their first year, like spaying and neutering or getting initial vaccinations.28

While a dog’s total lifetime expenses can range anywhere from $20,000 to $55,000 and $15,000 to $45,000 for cats, veterinary care makes up a substantial part of those numbers. Dog owners should budget for $1,300 to $2,800 in their first year, and then potentially thousands more on routine care, emergencies, and medications throughout their 10 to 15 year lifespans. The veterinary costs for a cat’s first year is about $960 to $2,500, and then $15,000 to $45,000 over their 12 to 18 year lifespan. 28,29,30

Many pet owners—nearly half—don’t realize how expensive it can be to take care of their pets, leading to financial stress when unexpected bills arise. Veterinary professionals are encouraged to use these cost estimates to educate clients on budgeting for their pets’ medical needs over their lifetimes.30,31


The veterinary industry in 2024 is a dynamic field shaped by many factors. With more US households owning pets and spending than ever before, the role of veterinarians and their teams is even more critical today. The financial investments pet owners make, combined with their strong emotional bonds to their animals, highlight the necessity for custom-made and compassionate veterinary care.

From the financial landscape of competitive salaries and challenging educational costs, to the shifting demographics within the profession itself, there’s an abundance of insights and knowledge for veterinary professionals to gain. Whether you’re currently a veterinary professional or aspiring to be one, or if you’re simply a curious pet owner, staying informed about these trends and statistics will provide valuable perspectives on the ever-changing world of veterinary care.

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