I'm currently training in school to become a CVT. The more I learn, the more curious and interested I become in pursuing a full veterinarian degree. Do you have any advice? What made you decide to become a veterinarian? I know the schooling is expensive, but that doesn't matter to me. What is it about being a veterinarian that called to you? Sorry, I know this is a big ask. I'm just trying to gather as much info as possible...your blog is amazing! it's so inspiring!!
The expense absolutely should and will matter to you. For the last 50 years or so we have brainwashed American students into thinking that if they just work hard enough, follow their dreams, etc. etc. they can do anything. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes you cannot follow your dream and you simply cannot work hard enough. That sucks. I’ll give you a minute.
The average vet student graduates with something like $250,000 in student debt from vet school alone. The average veterinarian makes somewhere around $52,0000 a year. You will never, ever, pay that loan off with that salary. NEVER. You will be paying close to $1,200 a month in loans every month until you are about 65 years old, and then the government MAY forgive those loans. But you have to pay taxes on the forgiveness amount which ends up being around $80,000. If you don’t have 80K saved up you will need to take out another loan to pay off your loan, then you will pay monthly for that loan. Since humans generally live to be around 70 years of age there is a high likelihood that you will die having never paid off your loans from when you were 22 years old.
$1,200 is a mortgage. Maybe 3-4 car payments. Flights to Japan. Cruises to the Bahamas. So many things you won’t be able to do because of that loan. It’s around $14,000 per year. So in actuality, you will be making $38,000 per year which is less than a general manager at McDonald’s.
If all of that doesn’t dissuade you, I’ll discuss what being a vet is like. I get yelled at and threatened for telling people their pet’s are obese. People scream at me because they think it’s unfair that I want to be paid for my work. I have to compete with internet pharmacies, Google, Breeders, friends, Pet stores, etc and they are all winning. Pet owners would rather listen to Ol’ Betty down the street who has bred poodles for 35 years than a medical professional. Look at some of the ridiculous comments on my posts from people on Tumblr. But people take them seriously. I spent a good portion of my day exasperated, desperately fighting for the health and welfare of pets and being told I am selfish and a money monger. I work 60+ hours a week. Clients get upset if I call out sick, if I don’t call them at 8 am with test results that I told them would take 3-5 days, if I do call at 8 am with urgent medical info but I woke them up, if a test comes back negative I get an angry phone call about how I should give them the money back. For years I can tell someone that their cat must lose weight or it will get diabetes. Finally when the cat is diabetic, owners are upset with me because insulin is so expensive. People feed $85 bags of grain free, organic food but balk at the $20 rabies vaccine I want to give. If I save a pet’s life, I will get a negative Yelp review if it cost too much in the owner’s mind. Can you imagine? Random people I have never met send me nasty emails, Facebook posts, Yelp reviews, threatening my life and goading me into suicide because some stranger they have never met paid $2,500 so I could save their dog after it got hit by a car.
Every single day is a fight.
When I do get time off I can’t usually afford to go anywhere on vacation and I can only take 3-4 days off because I can’t afford not to work for any longer. I can’t afford my rent but I can’t afford a house either.
Veterinarian suicide rates are through the roof. The general public doesn’t respect us. We all work ridiculous hours and don’t get to spend time with our families, but don’t make enough for it to be worth it.
My advice? Don’t be a CVT or a veterinarian. You simply work too hard and get too little in return. I love helping animals and helping good people but the feel good warm fuzzies don’t come often enough and when they do, I can’t buy food with them. And before you think I am just bitter and angry, I promise every vet you talk to could tell you these same stories. The entire profession deals with this stuff. If I could go back in time I would tell myself to pick a different career and just have a hobby that dealt with animals.