If You Go to Vet School, You Will Be Broke

Ever since you were a little kid, you loved animals. Cats, dogs, other animals: you just loved them. Petted them and everything, real nice. You always dreamed, since you were a little kid, of growing up and working with animals every single day. You love the pretty animals, and you want to help them. Even when you were five years old, you knew that one day, you would grow up and become a veterinarian.

I guess your five-year-old self was not highly skilled at cost/ benefit analysis.

For all of you young-ish people with dreams of going to vet school to help the poor little kitty, look at the kitty, oh my god it looks so sad, don't worry kitty I'll help you feel better, we'd like to start the week by drawing your attention to this Sunday New York Times story on the current state of veterinarianism. The essential facts can be summed up in a handful of charts: since the recession, pet ownership and vet visits are down, along with average veterinarian salary; but the number of vet school graduates, and their average debt load, keeps climbing.

That means that, logically speaking, it is a poor choice to attend vet school, because you will emerge with huge debt and poor earning prospects. Even though working vets point this out, vet schools keep cranking out graduates because, well, that is how vet schools get paid. (In this sense they resemble law schools.) And vet school is expensive as a motherfucker.

And the level of debt for American graduates, says Dr. Alan M. Kelly, former dean of the veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study on work force needs, is already too high. "The general guideline is that your debt should never be twice your starting salary," Dr. Kelly says. "The debt of graduates today, on average, is three times their starting salary. Well, this is a cataclysm."

Of course, you didn't want to grow up to be a vet in order to do math; you wanted to grow up to be a vet because oh my god the dog has a thorn in his paw, come here doggie, sit in my lap, oh my god his tiny paw probably hurts so bad, look at his face! You didn't get into the vet game to get rich. You got into the vet game to help animals, damn it.

And the animals love you too. And they will pay for each and every procedure. In poop. Not a currency accepted by lenders—yet.

[NYT. Photo: Brian Walker/ Flickr]