Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Veterinarians are dedicated to keeping the world’s pets and animals healthy, and to many animal lovers, they’re respected and trusted more than politicians or religious leaders. Veterinarians spend 8 to 12 years training for their careers. When they finish their studies, they enter a job market that’s overloaded with high-demand positions.
You can learn more interesting facts about the lives of veterinarians with our 15 most interesting vet statistics, including:
- 5 Main Veterinary Education Statistics
- 5 Most Fascinating Veterinary Careers Statistics
- 5 Most Surprising Veterinarians and Pet Parents Statistics
The 15 Most Interesting Veterinarian Statistics
- Total enrollment of doctor of veterinary medicine students in U.S. colleges was 13,548 from 2019-2020.
- As of November 2021, the average annual salary for a veterinarian is $96,624.
- There are 32 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. today.
- There are 46 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties in the U.S.
- 3000 students in the U.S. are admitted to veterinary school each year.
- 77% of veterinarians work in private practice.
- From 2020 to 2030, veterinarian employment is expected to grow 17%.
- As of 2019, 44 states in the U.S. are experiencing veterinarian shortages.
- California employs more veterinarians than any other state.
- The metropolitan area with the highest-paid veterinarians is Houston, Texas.
- Americans spent $31.4 billion on vet care and pet products in 2020.
- In 2021, 69 million Americans own dogs, and 45.3 million Americans own cats.
- Average vet visits for dogs cost $242, and for cats, the cost is $178.
- In 2020, approximately 280,277 dogs and 292,704 cats were adopted.
- Veterinarians experienced lower employment during the pandemic than other profession.
The 5 Main Veterinary Education Statistics
1. Total enrollment of doctor of veterinary medicine students in U.S. colleges was 13,548 from 2019-2020.
Pre vet students do not follow a set curriculum before entering graduate school, but most students major in biochemistry, food sciences, animal science, biology, or wildlife science. After completing 3 to 4 years of undergraduate work, veterinary students enter doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) programs. The top-ranked veterinary colleges in the world are the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, University of California Davis, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
2. As of November 2022, the average annual salary for a veterinarian in the U.S. is $96,624.
A veterinarian with a salary equal to the national average makes $46.45 an hour. Wages in the U.S. vary significantly depending on the state. Some are as low as $40,000 or as high as $150,000. Metropolitan areas have the highest concentration of veterinarians, and rural regions have the lowest. Rural towns struggle to retain and hire qualified vets, but since the pay is so much higher in cities, most graduates look for jobs in bigger markets.
3. There are 32 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. today.
The U.S. has more highly-ranked veterinary colleges than any other country in the world. Although the top universities are proud of their rankings, each school focuses on different aspects of veterinary science. Rankings are less critical to pre-vet students than the concentration they’re interested in. For instance, a student interested in equine practice, zoological medicine, or small and exotic animal practice might choose to go to North Carolina State University because they offer those specialty programs. California, Tennessee, and Alabama are the only states with more than one veterinary school.
4. There are 46 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties in the U.S.
After completing graduate school, some veterinary students choose to continue their studies to become board-certified veterinarians. While most students apply for private practice positions, others are motivated by the increased pay and complexity of specialty fields. To become a veterinary specialist, students typically complete a 1-year internship and then work under board-certified specialists for 2 to 3 years. Some of the specialist positions include small animal internal medicine, oncology, anatomic pathology, virology, and parasitology.
5. 3000 students in the U.S. are admitted to veterinary school each year.
Competition for admission to U.S. veterinary colleges is fierce, and the acceptance rate ranges between 10% to 15%. Although pre-med students and pre-vet students dispute whether veterinary schools have lower acceptance rates than medical schools, medical schools have a slightly lower acceptance rate at 6.3%. The limited number of veterinary schools in the country is one of the reasons why the rates are so low. Typically, applicants who apply to schools in their states have higher acceptance rates than out-of-state applicants. Pre-vet students often work in veterinary fields during their 3rd year of college to gain real-world experience and increase their chances of acceptance into graduate schools. Students who complete 1000 hours or more of vet-related activities have a greater chance at acceptance than students who apply without experience.
The 5 Most Fascinating Veterinary Careers Statistics
6. 77% of veterinarians work in private practice.
(Career Cornerstone Center)
Over half of the private practice veterinarians in the U.S. are small animal practitioners. They treat domesticated animals like cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles. Only ¼ of all U.S. veterinarians work in mixed animal practices. Mixed animal positions involve treating farm animals like goats, cows, and pigs. This can include administering vaccinations, treating infections, and surgery.
7. From 2020 to 2030, veterinarian employment is expected to grow 17%.
Undergraduate students working towards a veterinary degree face a competitive environment, but after completing 4 to 8 years of graduate studies, they enter a job market that’s full of high-demand positions. Each year, the projected openings for veterinary-related positions are around 4,400.
8. In 2019, there were 44 states in the U.S. experiencing veterinarian shortages.
According to the USDA, over 500 US counties were underserved by veterinarians in 2019. The most significant shortages in the country are in rural communities. Veterinarians working in mixed practices have struggled with a smaller staff and finding new employees to fill in for retiring veterinarians. Farmers and agricultural experts are not optimistic that the shortage issues will be resolved anytime soon. Veterinarians working in agriculture face heavy workloads and long hours. Like medical doctors, rural mixed practice vets are always on call and often skip important events and holidays to treat farm animals.
9. California employs more veterinarians than any other state.
As of April 2021, California employed 7,380 veterinarians, and they employed more than 65% more veterinarians than Texas that employed the 2nd highest number of veterinarians. The District of Columbia employed the fewest number of veterinarians in the country. Only 90 people in Washington D.C. are veterinarians.
10. The metropolitan area with the highest-paid veterinarians is Houston, Texas.
The Houston-Sugar Land-Woodlands metroplex region employs veterinarians with an average mean wage of $169,220. By the hour, Houston veterinarians make over $81.36. The non-metropolitan area with the highest-paid veterinarians is Kansas; their veterinarians make $110,530.
The 5 Most Surprising Veterinarians and Pet Parents Statistics
11. Americans spent $31.4 billion on vet care and pet products in 2020.
The total estimate that U.S. pet owners spent on their pets in 2020 was $103.6 billion. The total includes pet product expenditures, vet care, OTC medicine, grooming, training, boarding, and walking services. The U.S. spends more on pet products and veterinary services than any other country. The group that spends the most on pet care is millennials, followed by baby boomers and generation Xers. Citizens of Great Britain spend the 2nd highest amount on their pets.
12. In 2022, 69 million Americans own dogs, and 45.3 million Americans own cats.
Cats are the most popular pet worldwide, and they outnumber dog owners nearly 3 to 1, but in the U.S., more pet lovers prefer dogs. Because of their popularity, more products, publications, and specialists are available for dog owners than cat lovers. The next most popular pets are birds, fish, horses, ferrets, reptiles, and livestock pets.
13. Average vet visits for dogs cost $242, and for cats, the cost is $178.
Although dogs are generally more expensive to treat than cats, some smaller breed dogs can be cheaper than high-maintenance cat breeds. Compared to dogs, cats have lower first-time costs, consume less food, and are more affordable to board. Adoption fees are also higher for dogs than cats.
14. In 2020, 280,277 dogs and 292,704 cats were adopted.
The figures for cat and dog adoptions seem like high numbers, but they’re much lower than the figures for 2019. Adoptions for dogs in 2020 declined by 24.3%, and adoptions for cats in 2020 decreased by 19%
15. Veterinarians experienced lower unemployment during the pandemic than other professions.
Unlike many professions around the world, veterinarians maintained lower unemployment rates in 2020. Vet clinics quickly restructured their operating procedures to treat pets during the pandemic, and they were able to continue services by keeping waiting rooms empty and only allowing pet parents to drop off and pick up their animals. Vet offices faced employee shortages like other professions, but luckily, they were able to help pets and their concerned owners even though the world was in turmoil.
Frequently Asked Questions About Veterinarians
What are the highest-paying veterinary specialties?
As of March 2021, the highest-paying veterinary specialty is a board-certified veterinary surgery specialist who makes $266,908 annually. In addition to performing complex surgeries, surgery specialists diagnose illnesses in animals and make recommendations for treatment and rehabilitation programs. The 2nd highest paid specialist is a professor of veterinary medicine who makes $166,350 a year. Professors instruct students on veterinary sciences, perform research, and help students with clinical trials.
How many veterinarians are employed by the government?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. government employed over 3,200 veterinarians in 2018. Over half of the government’s veterinarians work with the Department of Agriculture. Some of the non-agricultural positions include studies with NASA and caring for exotic animals at the National Zoo.
How many animals do veterinarians save a year?
An accurate figure on the total number of animals saved every year is unknown, but data shows that dog owners visit their veterinarians more frequently than cat owners. In its most recent study that tracked veterinary visits from 2011-2016, the AVMA discovered that 82.8% of dog owners and 54.3% of cat owners visit the veterinarian at least once a year.
How many veterinarians are there in the U.S.?
According to the latest report from the AVMA, the U.S. employed 118,624 veterinarians in 2020. Of the total figure, 42,546 were male, 75,900 were female, and 178 were unknown.
Which state pays veterinarians the most?
As of May 2020, the state that pays veterinarians the most was New Jersey, with a wage of $128,432 a year. The states that followed New Jersey were Maryland with $128,120, the District of Columbia with $127,310, Rhode Island with $126,630, and Oregon with $122,840.
Veterinarians make an enormous impact on the lives of animals and their caretakers. Even with job shortages, long hours, and a global pandemic, veterinarians have managed to prioritize the health of animals above their own. For the majority of pet owners, animals are considered family members, and each one is undoubtedly thankful that veterinarians work tirelessly to protect their loved ones.
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Featured Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock