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With student loan debt reaching a historic high of $1.7 trillion in 2022, graduates are willing to make moves for jobs that will guarantee competitive pay.
For those in the veterinary field, it’s practically a requirement: according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average student loan debt for veterinarians is $183,302, $147,000 more than the national average. While veterinarians are typically compensated generously, salaries could differ by nearly $50,000 depending on where they practice.
To make every dollar count, Veterinarians.org, an expert information resource for pet parents, examined the average salaries for veterinarians across all 50 states and the District of Columbia to reveal which states are the most lucrative for aspiring vets, as well as how those compare salaries to the average pay in those locales.
“During the pandemic, as many of us saw, there was a significant exodus of people from highly-populated cities and states,” says Lily Velez, writer and head of digital PR for Veterinarians.org. “To help veterinarians choose a new home where they could still make competitive pay, we wanted to conduct a ranking of veterinary salaries from state to state to help inform those in the profession.”
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To compile this data, the site looked at the average salary for veterinarians, ranking where states paid the most. Additionally, Veternarians.org compared vet salaries to the average state salary across all occupations, to gauge the value of this profession state-to-state. For example, states like Texas and North Carolina paid vets 130% above the state salary average, while states like New Jersey and Maryland, which vets pay the highest salaries overall, paid around 101% higher.
Velez points out that a salary comparison may be more helpful for those looking to leave states with a higher cost of living, like New York and New Jersey, but still want competitive compensation. Arkansas, which pays vets 146% over their state average at $110,480, topped this list.
Here are the 10 highest paying states for veterinarians, according to Veterinarians.org.