Veterinary Interns, Residents Not Getting Rich

Private practitioners enjoy a big financial head start over vets who choose additional schooling.

Interns working in the Northeast and residents in the West tended to have larger salaries than colleagues elsewhere.

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Veterinarians who pursue post-graduate training aren’t making piles of cash.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges this month reported that interns employed at U.S. veterinary schools were paid an average of $26,572 during the 2014-15 academic year and the average resident earned $32,707.

The pay was far below what newly graduated veterinarians grossed in private practice in 2014: about $67,000 on average.

Veterinary careers go off in different directions.

“I think that students and new graduates have lots of decisions ahead of them, and naturally income will be an important factor in any employment choices,” said Lisa M. Greenhill, MPA, EdD, the associate executive director for institutional research and diversity at AAVMC.

“I would say that all students should research the costs and benefits of seeking additional training as it pertains to salary differentials and personal goals.”

AAVMC found 315 interns enrolled in traditionally one-year programs at U.S. veterinary schools in 2014-15. Several hundred other interns were working in private practice, but their salaries were not known.

Nearly all veterinary residents were in school-based, multiyear specialty programs. AAVMC counted 978 residents in the 2014-15 academic year, and their reported earnings ranged from a high of $54,774 down to nothing.

An intern’s geographic location made some difference in pay. AAVMC reported average intern salaries ranging from $25,565 in the South to $28,849 in the Northeast.

The disparity was more pronounced among residents: from $30,272 in the Midwest to $38,177 in the West.

The cost of living on the East and West coasts tends to be higher than in the South or Midwest, Greenhill noted.

“On simple salary figures alone, one might assume that Western residencies salaries are much more attractive, and they are, but one also needs to examine how much farther does that $8,000 go when compared to a lower cost of living in, say, Mississippi?” she said.

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“Trainee applicants should consider the salaries in context of the locale.”

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