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Veterinarians are trained medical professionals who perform their procedures on animals instead of people. Whether they’re patching paws or suturing snouts, veterinarians must care for their fluffy, winged and scaly patients as well as those patients’ concerned owners. Vets may set up their own individual practices, join a neighborhood conglomerate, or form an association with a pet supply shop or adoption agency.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 wage study revealed veterinarians in the U.S. made an average rate of $43.32 per hour. Vets employed by one of the BLS’ top-paying industries were able to earn much higher than their colleagues across the country. Medical and diagnostic laboratories paid the highest rate for veterinarians, at $55.09 per hour. Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industries came in second at $51.54, followed by scientific research services at $46.93.
East Coast veterinarians took home the highest hourly rates in 2009. New Jersey led the country with an hourly mean wage of $56.33, followed by Connecticut at $55.84 per hour. In third place was Florida, paying an hourly rate of $50.74. The lone West Coast entry, California, came in fourth with $48.05 per hour, followed by South Carolina at $47.90 per hour.
Just like physicians who treat people, veterinarians must seek postsecondary medical education to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. The Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association accredits 28 colleges in the country offering the program. Prospective vets must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam and may have to take additional tests on a per-state basis.
Due to the small number of schools offering accredited Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a positive outlook for persons seeking salaries in the veterinary field. The BLS expects a continued 33 percent growth rate in employment of veterinarians, adding 19,700 jobs to the field by 2018.