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How much money does a veterinarian make per hour?

While it’s true that a typical veterinarian in the United States makes $50 per hour, that statistic alone is woefully inadequate in understanding how much money veterinarians make hourly. For starters, while $50 per hour may represent the median earnings, about 10% of veterinarians only earn $30 per hour, while the top 10% earn upwards of $84 per hour.

In addition to analyzing the role that geography and industry play in influencing how much a veterinarian makes per hour, the research that follows will go beyond other resources by analyzing the role that part-time “gig” work plays in influencing a veterinarian’s earning potential, including the hourly rate for veterinarians offering relief shifts, which can range from $60-$100 per hour, and at-home euthanasia, which on CodaPet averages about $185 per hour worked – by far the highest pay rate per hour for veterinarians looking for flexible and rewarding work that fits their schedules.

If you are seeking to learn more about being an in-home euthanasia veterinarian, learn more here.

Geography

Many factors can influence where in the $30 to $84 hourly pay range a veterinarian’s salary might fall, including their geographic location. Veterinarians in Hawaii, for example, have the highest average hourly wage in the United States at $75 per hour, while veterinarians in Montana and Puerto Rico share the lowest hourly rate at $41:

Vet hourly wage by state in the US

It is also true that veterinarians in larger metropolitan areas tend to be paid higher hourly rates, likely to help offset higher living costs. However, some smaller areas, like Appleton, WI (where veterinarians make an average of $69 per hour) also rank among the highest-paying metropolitan areas.

Industry

Industry plays an important role in influencing a veterinarian's hourly wage as well. For instance, veterinarians working in educational settings, such as state colleges and universities, earn around $46 per hour on average. These roles often blend clinical practice with teaching, requiring veterinarians to split their time between caring for animals and instructing the next generation of veterinary professionals.

Veterinarians who work in hospitals, particularly those with specializations, represent some of the top earners in the field, with an hourly mean wage of approximately $76. These professionals often work in high-pressure environments, providing critical care to pets in emergencies or specialized treatment in areas like oncology or neurology.

Those veterinarians in more traditional clinic settings have an average hourly wage of around $63. These veterinarians are likely the ones most familiar to pet owners, providing routine care, preventative treatments, and managing general health concerns.

Hourly Pay from Gig Work

In addition to full-time pursuits, many veterinarians choose to work part-time or supplement their income with side hustles. Three of the most common side hustles include working at vaccine clinics, staffing relief work, and providing in-home euthanasia.

Vaccine Clinics

Veterinarians typically contract around $500 to $650 per day, which can range between 4.5 and 6 hours long. When factoring in drive time between clinics, the hourly rate for a veterinarian working at vaccine clinics is typically around $133 per hour.

Relief Work

Relief veterinarians can often command higher hourly rates compared to their permanently employed counterparts, but those higher rates come with a tradeoff, including sometimes less dependable hours and fewer benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, and retirement plans.

According to data from multiple sources, relief vets will often charge between $60 and $100 per hour, meaningfully higher than the $40-$60 per hour a general practice associate veterinarian may make. However, a general practice associate at a clinic is guaranteed 40 hours per week, while the relief vet must factor in time spent between shifts as well as time spent on administrative tasks that come with being a contractor.

Companies like Roo and IndeVets, which serve as platforms for connecting relief vets with clinics, have contributed to a more structured approach to this segment of the veterinary job market. They offer veterinarians the chance to find relief work more easily and may provide additional benefits such as malpractice insurance or continuing education allowances. While these platforms take a percentage of the earnings as a service fee, they also handle many of the administrative burdens that come with freelance work.

At-Home Euthanasia

More and more veterinarians are providing euthanasia to pet parents at home, either on a full-time basis or part-time to help supplement their income while still providing a flexible schedule. However, the hourly pay that veterinarians command for at-home euthanasia varies widely, with full-time veterinarians working for Lap of Love making between $24 and $58 per hour, while veterinarians partnering with CodaPet to run their own businesses commanding more than three times as much.

On CodaPet, veterinarians made about $185 per hour on average, after accounting for the cost of CodaPet’s commission, the crematorium’s fees, and other expenses like payment processing. However, some vets made as much as $275 per hour, while even our lowest-earning vets made around $160 per hour. While our veterinarian partners command the highest hourly rate, they also earn it every day, as they’re building their own businesses.

In contrast, veterinarians who prefer the predictability of full-time or part-time employment often seek out opportunities at companies like Lap of Love, which offers a starting salary of anywhere between $50k to $120k per year or around $24 - $58 per hour, with most vets starting around $65k or around $31 per hour. While the pay rate may be lower, the positions do offer the security of a predictable paycheck as well as benefits like health insurance and a retirement plan.

Conclusion

Finding the right career path for any veterinarian is about more than just the hourly rate. It involves balancing the love of the work you do every day with the realities of meeting your financial needs.

For those looking to maximize their hourly rate while maintaining flexible schedules and rewarding work, providing at-home euthanasia through a company like CodaPet can help maximize your earning potential, but it requires the dedication and perseverance necessary to succeed at building your own business.

If you’d like to learn more about joining CodaPet’s network of veterinarians, you’ll discover a unique and economically rewarding veterinarian profession.