We dove deep into the numbers and determined the best U.S. cities for veterinarians to work in.
According to a recent study conducted by the American Pet Products Association, people living in the United States are spending more money on their pets than ever before. In 2018, total consumer spending on pet food, medications, services, and veterinary care reached a record high of $72.56 billion. These figures are in line with numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting employment for veterinarians to increase by 18% over the next ten years. As people spend more money on their pets, pet life expectancy will rise, leading to an increase in demand for veterinarians across the United States.
With so many options, where are some of the best cities for veterinarians to work in the United States? We conducted a study on 264 U.S. cities to determine the best places for veterinarians to pursue their careers in. Our rankings were based on several key factors, including average annual salary, cost of living, and location quotient, and cities were categorized into small, midsize, or large based on their metropolitan statistical area population. After careful analysis, we determined the top 50 most attractive cities for veterinarians.
Top Cities for Veterinarians by City Size
The majority of the top cities in our study—44 out of 50—were small or midsized cities. Much of this can be attributed to agriculture playing a more dominant role in the economy of smaller towns than in large cities, thus increasing the demand for veterinarians to treat and examine livestock.
In our study, we categorized cities into different sizes, based on metropolitan statistical area populations, to provide equal representation for different city types. These are the ten best small (population less than 150,000), midsize (population between 150,000 and 500,000), and large (population greater than 500,000) cities for veterinarians.
Best Cities for Veterinarians
1. Sherman, TX
Sherman, Texas, was the number one city for veterinarians in our study. A small city with a metropolitan area population of 131,140, Sherman is located 70 miles north of Dallas and poised to grow, as it sits directly north of the rapid industrial growth happening throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Sherman has been an attractive space for major employers both historically and today, as it now serves as a hub for Texas Instruments and Tyson Foods, the largest employer in the area. Food processing and health care are two of the largest industries in Sherman, and with a steady unemployment rate of 3.1%, veterinarians are sure to find a bevy of opportunities available.
The average annual salary for veterinarians in Sherman is $213,260, which is an astounding 111% higher than the average veterinarian salary. Sherman also has 36% more jobs for veterinarians on a per-capita basis compared to the average U.S. city and enjoys a cost of living 17% below the national average.
2. Lubbock, TX
Lubbock, Texas, is the best midsized city for veterinarians to work in the United States. Located in northwestern Texas, Lubbock has a metro area population of 316,983 and is the economic, educational, and health care center of a region known as the Staked Plains. Two of the largest industries here are agribusiness and education, which naturally produce many jobs for veterinarians interested in various food sources and the livestock dependent on them. With an unemployment rate of 2.6% and a predicted annual job growth of 1.3%, veterinarians can find many suitable and interesting jobs here.
Lubbock pays veterinarians an average annual salary of $228,450, the highest annual salary in our study and 126% higher than the average salary paid to veterinarians. Lubbock also has 4% more jobs for veterinarians than the average U.S. city and a cost of living 14% below the national average.
3. College Station, TX
College Station is a midsized city located in eastern central Texas, approximately 83 miles northwest of Houston. Much of the economy in College Station revolves around Texas A&M University, which is not only one of the best universities in Texas but also the largest employer in the area. Texas A&M is particularly known for its veterinary school, which has been working to increase veterinary enrollment to meet increasing student demand and industry needs for veterinarians trained in working with the livestock industry. With an unemployment rate of 2.8%, College Station has many exciting and diverse opportunities.
The average annual salary in College Station is $70,080, which is 31% below the national average for veterinarians in the United States. However, the city boasts an overwhelming 233% more jobs for veterinarians than the average U.S. city, offsetting the lowered average earnings. College Station also has a cost of living 9% below the national average.
4. Auburn, AL
Auburn, Alabama, came in at fourth in our study of best cities for veterinarians. Located in eastern Alabama, this midsized city is a historic college town and the home of Auburn University, one of the largest universities in Alabama. Auburn’s economy revolves heavily around Auburn University, which employs 4,300 people in the area, and the two largest industries here are education and bio-science. Auburn University boasts the top veterinary medicine school in the nation, and with an unemployment rate of 3.3%, Auburn makes an appealing draw for both veterinarian work and services.
Auburn pays veterinarians an average annual salary of $76,680. Though this is 24% lower than the national average, Auburn also has 192% more veterinarian jobs per capita than the average U.S. city. The cost of living in Auburn is 6% below the national average.
5. Harrisonburg, VA
Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a small city located in Northern Virginia with a metro area population of 134,442. Known as the “Friendly City,” it is home to James Madison University and a downtown that has been designated as a historic place. The area has a dense suburban feel and employs many people working in food processing and education, two of the main industries in the area. With good public schools, diverse neighborhoods, and a low unemployment rate of 2.9%, Harrisonburg is a warm and attractive city for veterinarians to work and live.
Veterinarians are paid an average annual salary of $116,410 in Harrisonburg, 15% more than the average veterinarian salary. Harrisonburg has 143% more jobs for veterinarians than the average U.S. city, as well as a cost of living equal to the average cost of living throughout the United States.
Top 50 Cities for Veterinarians
Below are the top 50 cities for veterinarians. In addition to rank, we include for each city its size, average annual salary, total number of available jobs, location quotient, and cost of living.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|3||College Station, TX||Midsize||$70,080||190||3.33||91|
|7||Grants Pass, OR||Small||$101,440||30||2.62||108|
|8||Homosassa Springs, FL||Small||$94,460||40||2.33||91|
|9||Fort Collins, CO||Midsize||$86,990||220||2.78||123|
|12||East Stroudsburg, PA||Midsize||$127,950||50||1.82||96|
|16||Grand Junction, CO||Midsize||$101,120||60||2.13||100|
|22||Hot Springs, AR||Small||$84,920||40||2.09||90|
|24||San Luis Obispo, CA||Midsize||$98,060||150||2.53||163|
|26||St. Joseph, MO||Small||$99,130||50||1.74||85|
|28||State College, PA||Midsize||$74,930||80||2.32||104|
|30||Great Falls, MT||Small||$64,870||40||2.34||95|
|31||Punta Gorda, FL||Midsize||$136,410||30||1.40||100|
|35||Grand Island, NE||Small||$78,630||40||2.03||88|
|37||Hilton Head Island, SC||Midsize||$142,640||60||1.58||117|
|43||Santa Rosa, CA||Large||$139,590||200||2.02||174|
|45||Glens Falls, NY||Small||$123,610||30||1.33||96|
|46||Santa Cruz, CA||Midsize||$136,390||100||2.11||192|
|47||Santa Fe, NM||Small||$94,270||60||1.95||114|
|48||Cape Coral, FL||Large||$99,080||230||1.79||105|
AdvisorSmith analyzed three key factors to determine the best cities for veterinarians:
1. Average annual salary for veterinarians
We gathered the average annual salary of veterinarians in each city and ranked cities higher if they paid veterinarians more. The annual average salary for veterinarians in the U.S. in 2018 was $101,240.
2. Cost of living index for each city
We adjusted the average annual salary of each city against a national cost of living index in order to standardize the annual salaries for comparison. Cities with a lower cost of living were ranked higher.
3. Density of jobs for veterinarians in each city
We utilized a location quotient to determine the density of jobs for veterinarians in each city. We calculated the location quotient by measuring the number of jobs for veterinarians against the total number of available jobs in each city. Cities with a higher location quotient were ranked higher.
There were 84,500 jobs for veterinarians in 2018, and employment for veterinarians is expected to grow by 18% from 2018 to 2028. This is 3.6 times higher than the average national job growth outlook for all occupations.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index