Becoming a Veterinarian—is it a Sound Financial Decision?

Most of my articles are for parents of students age 12—26. This article is for parents, yes, but it’s also for any student thinking of becoming a veterinarian.

One of my clients at GetIntoMedSchool.com wrote me this week, asking my advice for a friend who’s thinking of becoming a veterinarian. My client wanted to know if I thought that right now, in 2018, vet school would be a good idea.

becoming a veterinarian

My thoughts on becoming a veterinarian might surprise you.

“My grave worry,” I told my client, “is that that vet school is so expensive—some veterinary students run up so much debt that they can’t repay it on a veterinarian’s salary. Anyone hoping to become a vet needs to use superstar strategies for doing it debt-free.”

Here are the steps to take.

Considering becoming a veterinarian? Do a quick salary study first.

“Before your friend decides that becoming a veterinarian is her call,” I said, “she needs to do a quick salary study to figure out the minimum and maximum salaries that veterinarians earn in the part of the country where she wants to live. Will she be able to make massive student loan payments on that amount of income?”

No matter what career a student is considering, a “salary study” is a great idea.

Here’s how to quickly do a salary study.

It took me about two minutes of googling to find out that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the average debt for 2016 veterinary school graduates who left vet school with debt was $167,534.89. (Over 20% had at least $200,000 in debt.)

A quick hop over to the Sallie Mae student loan repayment calculator showed me that a newly graduated veterinarian paying a minimum professional school interest rate of 6% would end up paying the following each month while getting a new veterinary career off the ground:

Taking 20 years to repay: $1200 per month ($14,400 per year—$288,000 altogether).

Taking the standard 10 years to repay: $1860 per month ($22,320 per year—$223,200 altogether).

Taking 3 years to repay: $5097 per month ($61,164 per year—$183,492 altogether).

The problem?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all veterinarians earned less than $88,770 per year in 2016. A shocking number of newly graduated veterinarians earned significantly less than this amount.

When new veterinarians subtract from their starting salaries state and federal taxes, student loan payments, local housing costs, food, transportation, and other necessary expenses, the thought of supporting a family on what’s left over can make them wonder, “What have I done?

Before you decide to become a veterinarian, make sure there’s no other career for you.

In the writing and speaking I do, I strongly advocate that all students 10th grade and up take three specific career assessments to clarify a career goal that makes sense before they embark on any post-secondary education at all. I explain exactly how to do this in chapter 13 of my book.

Education is too expensive to spend even one day plunging off in the wrong direction.

As soon as you decide that vet school is definitely for you, become fully informed about the FAFSA form.

You remember the FAFSA form from undergrad, right? This form is important because it’s the doorway to the best, lowest interest loans with the best possible terms. You’ll be filling out FAFSA again, every October 1st that there’s even a chance you’ll be in school the following year.

I urge you to use every possible strategy to get as much financial benefit out of the FAFSA form as is legally allowed. I cover important FAFSA strategies that no one else is talking about in my book, on pages 102–113, 157, 199–200, 228–236, 239–247, and 249–250.

For more help understanding financial aid for vet school, take a look at this helpful FAQ page provided by the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University.

If you’re determined to become a veterinarian, write one fantastic scholarship essay and use it to apply for every vet school scholarship you can find.

You can find many, many vet school scholarship applications online by googling. For help writing one scholarship application essay that will knock the socks off of scholarship committees, get the 3-hour audio class you’ll find on my website, GetIntoMedSchool.com. To find the class, just click on GET HELP NOW and scroll down. You’ll find help there that will give you rockstar vet school applications and scholarship applications.

Be sure to continue applying for scholarships every year, all the way through vet school.

Parents, beware cosigning student loans.

If your college-age son or daughter asks you to cosign on a massive grad school debt, stop in your tracks and read the article I’ve written here before you open your mouth to say yes.

Students looking at veterinary medicine, read this book by Dr. Pete Freyburger.

Check out the 67 Amazon reviews for Dr. Freyburger’s book Vetting: The Making of a Veterinarian.

Pay special attention to the part of the book’s description that says, “Feel the incredible stress and self-doubt that young professionals must overcome.” (You need to know exactly what you’re getting into.)

I’m Jeannie Burlowski, and I’m the author of the book: 

(Jump straight to chapter 13 for specific instruction on how to access the three career assessments that will let any student know that she’s on the best career track for her.)

You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:

bit.ly/burlowski

(Tell your friends.)

You can see why financial planners and wealth managers love LAUNCHhere.

You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCHhere.

Parents, read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1-3 months while your younger children are in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your youngest child is already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college or grad school.

If you’ve found valuable info in this article, please help me by tweeting it out to the people who follow you.

Do you have friends who are parenting kids ages 16-28?

Many of them love animals and think that life as a veterinarian would be a dream come true. SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn right now.

What about you?

What experience do you have with vet school debt? What have you found that vets can do to keep debt low and income high? What would you advise others about vet school debt? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski? 

Jeannie is a full time author, academic strategist, and speaker. Her writing and speaking help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.