Despite the high costs of veterinary schooling, people choose to become veterinarians because they are passionate about their work with animals and the relationship they develop with their patients.
As of May 2012, there are approximately 56,000 veterinarians employed in the United States. These veterinarians earn a national average salary of $93,250 per year, and $44.83 per hour, and a national median salary of $84,460 per year and $40.61 per hour. The job growth outlook for veterinarians is rosy: from 2010 - 2020 the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of veterinary jobs to grow 36%, much faster than the national average of 14%.
So what are some of the best cities for veterinarians?
For a deeper look into the veterinary field, ValuePenguin reports on the best cities for veterinarians to consider for the best career prospects. We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:
1. How much money do veterinarians make in the city?
We ranked cities based on the median annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for veterinarians looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a veterinarian in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question...
Related Tool: Veterinarian Salary
2. How expensive is it to live there?
In conjunction with the median annual salary for veterinarians in city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower cost of living ranked highly in our study.
3. What is the location quotient for veterinarians in the city?
A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with high veterinarian location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of veterinarians in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. A higher location quotient can be inferred to mean a relatively high demand for veterinary services.
Best Cities for Veterinarians
1. Palm Coast, FL
With a median salary of $161,160, Palm Coast boasts the highest median salary in our list of Best Cities for Veterinarians. There are thirty veterinarians serving the town, which is four times the national average of veterinary employment in the typical U.S. town. With its lush nature preserves and sunny golf courses, and lower than average cost of living, Palm Coast, FL is a great place to be a veterinarian. There are numerous animal hospitals and veterinary clinics in the area, such as Flagler Animal Hospital, Pine Lakes Animal Hospital, and Safe Haven Veterinary Hospital.
2. Akron, OH
Minutes away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of the nation’s most visited national parks, Akron, OH is the second best cities for veterinarians to practice in. Cost of living in this city is highly affordable - about 20% less than the typical U.S. city, which stretches the median salary for veterinarians in Akron of $109,830 quite far. As a practicing veterinarian, you’ll have 280 fellow colleagues at practices such as the Sigler Animal Hospital and the Akron Animal Clinic.
Related: Health Exchanges for People in Ohio
3. San Luis Obispo, CA; Paso Robles, CA
Ranking at #3 is the metropolitan area of San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Its cost of living index of 165 makes it one of the most expensive cities on our list, but its relatively high median salary of $119,300 places it on our radar. On your weekends, you’ll have access to beaches, wine-tasting, and scenic hiking routes.
4. Nashua, NH
Nashua is the second largest city in the state of New Hampshire, and the fourth best city for veterinarians in our study. The city has a cost of living close to the national average at 119. There are ninety veterinarians employed in Nashua with a median salary of $108,180. At posting time, there were several job postings with the Animal Hospital of Nashua.
5. Haverhill, MA; North Andover, MA; and Amesbury, MA
Rounding out our top five best cities for veterinarians is the metropolitan area of Haverhill, North Andover, and Amesbury. Veterinarians in this area are represented at twice the national concentration average, with a median salary of $100,900. This area was once home to industrial mills powered by the Merrimack River, and has recently enjoyed a rebirth in multi-purpose industries and tourism around their picturesque farms and lakes. North Andover, in particular, is a quintessential New England city with well-preserved historical sites, a rich history of industry, and the Lake Cochichewick - charmingly named "Place of Great Cascades."
Top Ten Best Cities for Veterinarians
|Median Salary||Veterinarians||Location Quotient||Cost of Living||Score|
|Palm Coast, FL||$16,160||30||3.96||91||98|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA||$119,300||80||1.87||165||89|
|Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA||$100,900||70||2.12||126||85|
|Santa Rosa- Petaluma, CA||$101,360||130||1.81||131||82|
|State College, PA||$97,390||50||1.78||118||81|
Study Methodology & Sources
- Median Salary: cities with the highest median annual salary, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Cost of Living: cities with the lowest cost of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator
- Employment: cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics