Veterinarians are the doctors for animals. These doctors have specialties like human doctors, but they are not as diverse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarians require a four-year degree called a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (VDM), but do not require a prerequisite bachelor's degree to enter this degree program. The wages of the different types of veterinarians depend on their specialties.
Veterinarians that specialize in the care of large animals, such as cows or large animals in zoos like elephants, earn a median income of $62,424 a year as of 2008, according to BLS. The doctors can also have specializations in this field such as anesthesiology, dentistry or surgery. Large animal veterinarians work exclusively on educating themselves on the anatomy, biology and diseases particular to these animals. Such a veterinarian can find work in a animal hospital or zoo or have a private practice.
A small animal veterinarian is a doctor that specializes in dogs, cats and other household pets. These types of veterinarians make the one of the higher median incomes of all veterinarians, coming in at $64,744 as of 2008, according to BLS. A small animal veterinarian commonly has a private practice, but might also work in an emergency room at an animal hospital or a local animal facility. Again, there are specialties in this field such as anesthesiology, dentistry and surgery just like for a large animal veterinarian.
A surgeon is the veterinarian that works exclusively in surgery, similar to a human surgeon. The veterinarian surgeon makes different wages depending on his location around the United States. The median income of all veterinarians was $79,050 a year as of 2008, and surgeons are at the higher end of the payscale because of skills required. The highest 10% of veterinarians make more than $143,660 a year, according to BLS, and veterinarian surgeons are included in this category.
Even though horses fall under the heading of large animals, veterinarians who exclusively work on horses are specialized and have a different wage category. An equine -- or horse -- veterinarian earns an average annual wage of $41,636 as of 2008, according to BLS. This veterinarian works at race tracks, animal hospitals, horse farms or in a private practice. Often a lot of the work requires travel, since it is easier for the equine veterinarian to go to the patient instead of the horse being brought to her.
2016 Salary Information for Veterinarians
Veterinarians earned a median annual salary of $88,770 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, veterinarians earned a 25th percentile salary of $69,240, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $118,460, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 79,600 people were employed in the U.S. as veterinarians.