According to the 2011 figures released by the American Veterinary Medicine Association, new veterinarians saw a wide variance in salaries - 40% earned $31,000 or less, while others reported salaries in excess of $90,000 (however 52% of those respondents were in residency or post-graduate programs). When those are removed from the equation, the 48% who'd formally entered practice earned an average of $66,469. Veterinarians pay almost as much for their schooling as medical doctors, but have much less earning power to compensate for their debt load (doctors easily earn two to three times as much).
The type of practice has a great deal to do with a new veterinarian's income. Roughly three-quarters of all vets in private practice treat pets or companion animals. In 2011, first-year salaries for vets in exclusively pet-oriented practices were $69,789. Exclusively food-animal practices paid $71,096. Equine practices paid the least, at $43,405, while general mixed-animal practices averaged $62,655.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians in research facilities were paid the best, at an average income of $124,610, while those working for pharmaceutical companies earned $113,270. Veterinarians in private practice averaged $91,160.
Geographically, the state with the highest average salary for veterinarians was Connecticut, at $125,810. New Jersey, Hawaii, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania were also among the highest-paid jurisdictions. Montana had the lowest average salary, at $60,590.