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Get the Most out of Your Veterinarian Salary in these 5 States

Where can a veterinarian make their salary go the furthest? We looked at states with the idea of paying off your vet school loans as quickly as possible. To do that, you don’t just need a high veterinarian salary, but also a low tax rate and a decent cost of living.

We’ve analyzed the financial situation in all 50 states. We looked at average veterinarian salary, tax rates, and cost of living. There wasn’t just one winning factor in finding the best states to pay off your veterinarian student loans. For example, states with no income tax didn’t always wind up being the best places to pay off your veterinary school loans.

Our methodology was simple. We took the average veterinary salary for each state and applied the state income tax. Then we subtracted the average cost of living in the state. So our payoff estimates work on the assumption that any remaining pay towards your student debt. 

States with a High Average Veterinarian Salary

The states with the highest salaries aren’t always the best places to save up to pay off school loans. These high pay rates are partially caused by high taxes, high cost of living, or both which means less left over.

StateAvg SalaryTax rateNet SalaryCost of LivingPayoff Time in Years
New Jersey$128,4306.30%$120,339$76,1155.7
District of Columbia$127,3108.50%$116,489$122,934-38.8
Rhode Island$126,6304.75%$120,615$75,3715.5
5 states with the highest average veterinary salary

The most striking number here is the District of Columbia. A veterinarian living and working in DC itself would never be able to pay off their loans. Even with one of the highest average salaries in the country, DC is notorious for its high cost of living.

Best States to Pay Off Student Debt

Here we see the impact of taxes and cost of living. Texas has no state income tax and a low cost of living overall. While living in a big city will raise the cost of living, your salary should increase as well. 

StateAvg SalaryTax rateNet AnnualAnnual Cost of LivingPayoff Time in Years
North Carolina$117,6905.25%$111,511$60,2914.9
5 states with the shortest time to pay off veterinary student loans

States with the Lowest Veterinarian Salary

States with a low average veterinarian salary also tend to have a low cost of living. However, the difference between the salary and the cost of living doesn’t always leave a lot of room for savings. 

StateAvg SalaryTax rateNet AnnualAnnual Cost of LivingPayoff Time
New Mexico$86,5604.90%$82,319$56,5949.7
South Dakota$87,4200.00%$87,420$61,6879.7
States with the lowest average veterinary salary

Additionally, most of these states also have significant income tax rates for this income bracket. South Dakota’s lack of income tax doesn’t make up for it’s relatively high cost of living, unfortunately.

Worst States to Pay Off Your Loans

Here we see the impact of high costs of living. Besides DC, Hawai’i and Alaska have notoriously high costs of living due to their locations and access to the mainland. The high density of the metropolitan areas around Los Angeles and San Francisco in California leads to high housing costs. 

While working in California might be a dream come true, it might be better to start in a place like Texas and transition to California once your loans are paid off. 

StateAvg SalaryTax rateNet AnnualAnnual Cost of LivingPayoff Time
District of Columbia$127,3108.50%$116,489$122,934-38.8
States where it’s hard to pay back student loans

Want to see how your state compares? Download the full veterinary salary analysis

Finding a Veterinarian Job in a New State

Finding a job with a good veterinarian salary in a new state can be a challenge. Even with remote interviews and online reviews of a practice, you’re still going in with a high degree of risk. A veterinary staffing service like Holiday Vet can help.

Holiday Vet pre-screens animal hospitals for a good work environment, fiscal stability and more. We’ve built strong, long-term relationships with our veterinary clinic partners, taking some of the risk out of an out-of-state move. As a relief services provider as well as a direct placement firm, we constantly get feedback on the employers from our relief doctors, so you know that the practice is serious and dependable. 

We operate nationwide, giving you access to the top states to pay off your vet school loans as well as your dream veterinarian job locations. Click the button below to find a job wherever you like.


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