Last Updated on January 26, 2022
Many people dream of working with horses as a veterinarian but wonder if it is practical. So how much do equine veterinarians make?
What Is An Equine Veterinarian?
An equine vet is a licensed animal doctor who can diagnose and treat horses with various health issues. Their duties can vary greatly and they work in a variety of environments. Often they give basic exams, vaccinations, evaluate concerns, prescribe medications, and perform surgeries.
Many vets also specialize in dental procedures. Most offer floating of the teeth at the horse’s barn, a procedure done yearly. There are also many dental procedures that can be done, usually at the vet’s clinic. Some vets prefer to do the dental work themselves, while bigger practices will hire a vet who exclusively works with horse’s teeth.
Equine veterinarians also can help with preventative measures, such as helping determine a feeding schedule to prevent dietary problems. They may also work closely with the farrier to ensure the horse remains sound. Most vets are on call 24/7 to assist with equine emergencies as they come up.
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Becoming An Equine Vet
Becoming an equine vet takes a lot of time and hard work. It is definitely not something that happens overnight! Here are the steps you have to take to begin working as a vet.
First, you must earn your associate’s degree to begin working as a veterinary technician. Technicians gain a lot of experience working in a veterinary environment.
Earning a bachelor’s degree will also help your career as a veterinarian. Studying Biology, zoology, and chemistry will not only help prepare you for life as a vet but also will help you meet prerequisites for vet school. Many veterinary schools require two years of undergraduate work in biology or chemistry.
After you’ve earned the required credits, you can apply to Vetrianarian schools. Many universities will offer specific courses and programs for equine vets. While in school you may also work in an internship to gain more experience.
After school, many people decide to continue with a paid internship or to apply for a residency. Once you have your veterinary medicine degree, you can begin to earn specific licenses and registrations specific to the field you want to work in.
Types Of Equine Veterinarians
There are a variety of options of work for equine veterinarians.
More than 75% of vets work in private practices. Most vets travel to different farms and help the animals on-site while also having a clinic they are based out of. Some exclusively work out of their clinic and don’t travel.
Many have mixed practices and care for horses as well as other types of large farm animals.
Vets may also specialize in specific types of horse care. Some work closely with competition horses, racehorses, or breeding farms.
Many vets choose to take different routes from standard medicine. They often specialize as equine chiropractors, in acupuncture, or massage.
Those with a veterinarian degree also can choose jobs away from the animals, such as a college professor, sales representative, or inspector.
One of the highest-profile jobs in the equine veterinarian world is a medical director position. An equine medical director is a head of directing and enforcing equine health and safety policies, often at high-traffic events such as racetracks.
Because this position requires so much responsibility, directors are required to have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and have a minimum of 10 years experience in equine medicine. However medical directors average around $200,000 a year, making this a highly desired position.
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Equine Vets Salary
So does every vet earn around $200,000 a year like the medical directors? Not quite.
The good news about being a vet is that it is a pretty stable profession that allows for growth in earnings each year. However, there are many factors that determine the actual annual salary of a vet. So what is an average horse doctor’s salary?
The basic median salary of an equine veterinarian recorded in May 2020 was $99,250. Lower paid vets made closer to $50,000 a year, while the highest-paid averaged $162,450.
Surprisingly, large animal vets average less than small animal doctors. Vets who work with animals like dogs, cats, and hamsters averaged $10,000 more per year than those who work with horses, cows, and pigs. Many equine vets work with other small animals also to balance out the earnings in their practice.
Salaries are also dependent on the location of the practice. The top rates states for equine vets, based on salary and job opportunities, are Utah, Rhode Island, and Kansas.
Vets’ Salaries By Experience Level – How Much Do Equine Veterinarians Make
Vets can make significantly more money as they gain experience.
Internships are optional after graduation for most vets, but they can lead to more experience in specialized areas and help make connections in the professional world. The good news is that most post-graduate interns are paid. The bad news is their average salary is much lower than normal entry-level positions. Vet interns average around $32,000 a year.
Entry-level vets start working right out of school under an already running practice. Most equine veterinarians make between $70,000 to $80,000 during their first few years at either public or private practices.
Experienced vets have been working for many years and have developed their skills. Their average salaries are $85,000 and up. Once the vet has some experience working with specific clients, they are often in higher demand which will increase their profits. Private practices can also offer bonuses and profit-sharing for more experienced doctors.
The end profit goal for most vets is to become a partner. Partners have a practice and make significantly more than their peers, averaging between $90,000 to $150,000. This comes after many years of experience and a good reputation.
How Much Do Equine Veterinarians Make?
There is a broad answer to this question that depends on many factors. Those who want to become equine veterinarians must put in hard work and time, but the rewards are very promising. And the salary doesn’t look too bad either!