The Best-paying States for Veterinarians in 2021

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The US employs over 74,540 veterinarians.1 With a national average salary of $104,820, vets earn 96% more than the average salary for other occupations. But the high pay comes with high-stakes work that helps our furry friends and their families.

Large corporations and hospitals own many pet clinics. Still, there are over 75,000 private veterinary practices across the US,2 which means many vets either work for or own a small business.

To help veterinarians find the best places to practice, we determined which states pay veterinarians the most—and where they can afford to rent housing the easiest.

In every state, veterinarians earn more than the average salary in their state. And the average pay for veterinarians across the US ranges from $74,530 in Oklahoma to $125,280 in Texas.

How does veterinary work pay in your state?

Best paying states for vets map

COVID-19 Considerations

During the pandemic, veterinarians had to navigate new safety precautions, appointment cancellations, and other pandemic-related struggles.

Vet and pet ownership stats

If you’re looking for a job as a vet, you may want to move your practice to a state with high pay, low rent, and lower numbers of employed vets.

The best-paying states for veterinarians

Top 5 states for vets
  • South Carolina ranks best for veterinarian pay with an average salary that is 154% more than the state’s average salary, at $112,580.
  • Seven out of ten of the best-paying states for veterinarians are found throughout the South: South Carolina, Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, and Virginia. 
  • Vets in the top 10 states make at least 113% or more than the average wages in those states.
Which states employ the most and least veterinarians?

California employs 7,380 vets, which is the most in the country—that’s almost 65% more as many veterinarians as Texas, which has the second-most vets. 

Washington, DC employs the fewest vets, only about 90. 

DC is followed by North Dakota, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, Delaware, and Hawaii (which all have fewer than 300 vets).

The worst-paying states for veterinarians

Even the worst isn’t bad when it comes to getting paid like a vet.

Although Washington, DC ranks last on our list, veterinarians in DC still earn an average salary of $113,790, which is 27% more than other jobs in the region.

The lowest-paying states for vets are spread throughout the country but can primarily be found in western and midwestern states like Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

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In which states do veterinarians have to work the longest to afford their rent?

In the US, vets have to work an average of 18.7 hours to afford rent for housing.7 And in 40 states, vets only have to work about 20 hours or less to afford their rent.

Like we saw in our nursing and retail worker reports, Hawaii has high rent—and even veterinarians have to work 32.5 hours to afford living there. Still, that’s not bad compared to retail workers, who have to work anywhere from 43 to 96 hours to afford rent.

West Virginia is the sixth best-paying state for vets, and it’s the best when it comes to paying rent—in the Mountain State, you only have to work 11.7 hours to afford rent.

For pet lovers, finding the best care for our furry friends takes priority. Luckily, veterinarians are well-paid compared to other gigs and can afford rent easier than most.

Curious how vet pay compares to other jobs? Check out our ongoing series of top-salaries in the US, which includes jobs like teachers, restaurant workers, and more.

Best-paying states for veterinarians

Average salary of veterinarians
Average salary of all occupations
Percent more that veterinarians earn than all occupations
Hours worked to afford median rent for veterinarians
1South Carolina$112,580$44,380153.70%13.5
3North Carolina$112,930$48,550132.60%13.9
6West Virginia$97,540$43,420124.60%11.7
10Rhode Island$121,900$57,220113.00%15.4
13New Hampshire$113,460$53,950110.30%18.4
14New Jersey$125,110$59,980108.60%20.4
15South Dakota$89,130$42,920107.70%15.6
22New Mexico$94,390$47,040100.70%16.2
32New York$120,580$63,97088.50%20.5
34North Dakota$94,680$50,43087.70%15.9
51District of Columbia$113,790$89,80026.70%27.7


To rank, we compared the average veterinarian salary with the average salary in each state.

Veterinarians can be defined as those who diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. This includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.

To measure affordability, we compared veterinarian salary to the median contract rent in each state. This includes all the renter-occupied housing units paying cash rent.

Related content


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Employment and Wages - Veterinarians,” May 2020. Accessed March 21, 2021.
  2., “US veterinarians 2020.” January 2021. Accessed March 21, 2021.
  3. Today’s Veterinary Business, “Pets Remain In High Demand During COVID,” October 2020. Accessed March 21, 2021.
  4. American Pet Products, “National Pet Industry Exceeds Over $100 Billion in Sales for First Time in Industry History.” Accessed March 21, 2021.
  5., “Veterinary Services in the US - Industry Data, Trends, Stats,” January 27, 2021. Accessed March 21, 2021.
  6., “US pet ownership statistics.” Accessed April 7, 2021.
  7. US Census Bureau, “Median contract rent.” Accessed March 21, 2021.
Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
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