The term ‘veterinarian near me’ receives nearly a quarter of a million searches a month on Google. Whether taking the form of an in-office visit or a telehealth check-up, the need for veterinarians is a fixture of life for pet owners across the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of veterinarians is projected to grow by 20% by 2032. For pet owners, this is promising news. Pet owners rely on veterinarians to diagnose and treat their companion animals and to help support the animal’s wellness throughout its life. 

Unfortunately, not all pet owners presently have the same access to quality veterinary care in the U.S. The Special Reports Team at dove into labor statistics data to uncover the ‘vet deserts’ across the nation as well as the areas where the veterinary occupation has seen incredible growth.

 Veterinarian Near Me Ranking: Methodology

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annually publishes comprehensive resource materials for each occupation within the U.S. economy. These guides detail, among other things, state data around employment and wages

For the purpose of this study, the Special Reports Team at analyzed the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2022 Report on Veterinarians (the most recently released report) with a specific focus on the geographic profile of employment across all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.  The Team also compared 2022 data with 2020 data to analyze which U.S. states have seen a growth and decrease in employed veterinarians.

First in the ranking are the U.S. states with the most employed veterinarians. In this lineup, Vermont leads the pack with an astonishing number of 61.9 employed veterinarians per 100K people. This is more than double the national average (26.9). As a later ranking will show, the veterinary occupation in Vermont grew by approximately 54% from 2020 to 2022, which may explain why The Green Mountain State tops the list for highest number of employed veterinarians today.

Montana and Colorado come in at second and third, a surprising finding considering that Montana is the U.S. state with the lowest annual salary for vets in the nation ($85,160, which is 26% lower than the national average).

On the flip side, Wisconsin, which comes in at #7 in the above ranking, has recently been named the highest paying state for veterinarians. Veterinarians in Wisconsin bring home an annual salary that’s 165% higher than the average salary in the state.

What about the states with the lowest number of employed veterinarians? In this ranking, Mississippi leads the pack. In this state, there are only 16 employed veterinarians per 100K people. That’s approximately 41% lower than the national average.

Indeed, all of the states in this ranking are below the national average, including the most populous ones in the nation: Texas, New York, California, and Florida.

Finally, the Special Reports Team also compared data from 2020 with 2022 numbers to compile a ranking of the states where the number of veterinarians has increased and decreased the most during this time period.

North Dakota has seen the most significant growth in this timeframe, with currently 55% more veterinarians than it had in 2020. That’s 7 times the national average of 7.5%. Though a veterinarian’s annual salary in North Dakota is slightly lower than the national average, it could be that the state was impacted by those seeking more open space during the pandemic.

Alabama and West Virginia also find themselves on the ranking for biggest increases in the number of employed veterinarians. This is in line with both ranking as two of the highest paying states for veterinarians in the nation.

In terms of states that lost veterinarians between 2020 and 2022, South Dakota leads the pack. This state suffered a 44.2% decrease in the number of employed veterinarians, more than double than double the percentage for the next state on the list. After New Hampshire and Alaska comes Oklahoma, where veterinarians make 17% less than their peers nationwide, which may have sparked an exodus in that instance.

Halfway down the list, however, Maine, Mississippi, and Utah may be trying to attract veterinarians to their states with higher pay. All three are currently ranked as some of the highest paying states for veterinarians in the U.S., and time will tell if these measures are enough to see an increase in the veterinarian population.