A wildlife veterinarian is a licensed veterinarian who cares for a variety of animal species who live in the wild, including birds, mammals, and reptiles. As a wildlife veterinarian in the US, annual earnings exceed $83,000, slightly lower than the US dollar equivalency in Australia of AU$112,000 ($87,053 USD) per year. A wildlife veterinarian salary in New Zealand is close to NZ$94,000 ($66,499 USD) per year compared to C$81,000 ($64,210 USD) in Canada and £43,000 ($51,262 USD) in the UK. On the lower end of the pay scale is South Africa and India where annual earnings are roughly R490,000 ($39,605 USD) and Rs493,000 ($7,719 USD), respectively. Salaries for wildlife veterinarians vary by geographic region, professional experience, and work setting as further explained in this guide.
How Much Does a Wildlife Veterinarian Make per Year?
Annual and hourly wages with US dollar equivalent amounts for wildlife veterinarians are found in the chart below.
|Wildlife Veterinarian Salary||US||Canada||UK||Australia||New Zealand||India||South Africa|
Factors that Influence the Wildlife Veterinarian Salary
Earning potential for wildlife veterinarians is heavily influenced by geographic region, professional experience, and work setting. Details on compensation packages and career insight are found in this guide for wildlife veterinarians in select countries worldwide.
1. Geographic Area
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in US
Wildlife veterinarians in the US see annual pay that tops $83,000 per year in base salary plus another $1,400 or more in bonus income. Those early in their career earn about $59,000 per year during the first three years of employment and see steadily increasing incomes with experience to well over $103,000 upon reaching a senior level position.
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in Canada
In Canada, wildlife veterinarians earn an annual salary of nearly C$81,000 and an additional C$1,400 in potential bonus income. Early career wildlife veterinarians earn about C$57,000 per year while those at the senior level receive roughly C$100,000 in annual earnings.
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in UK
The average annual compensation for wildlife veterinarians in the UK is about £43,000 in annual base salary plus an additional £700 or more in bonus pay. Entry level wildlife veterinarians earn well over £30,000 per year during their first three years’ of experience, but see annual earnings increase with experience to roughly £53,000 annually upon reaching the senior level.
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in Australia
Wildlife veterinarians in Australia earn nearly AU$112,000 per year and bonus pay can potentially add another AU$1,900 to overall earnings. When entering this career field, wildlife veterinarians can expect an annual salary of about AU$79,000 per year, increasing with experience to well over AU$138,000 per year for those in senior level positions with the most experience.
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in New Zealand
In New Zealand, wildlife veterinarians receive an annual compensation of nearly NZ$94,000 in base salary and another NZ$1,600 in bonus incentive pay. The average entry level salary for wildlife veterinarians is well over NZ$66,000 per year while senior level professionals earn more than NZ$116,000 per year.
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in India
The average annual pay for wildlife veterinarians in India is about Rs493,000, and bonus pay can add another Rs8,400 to overall earnings. Wildlife veterinarians with up to three years’ experience earn roughly Rs354,000 per year, increasing with experience to more than Rs620,000 annually upon reaching the senior level.
Wildlife Veterinarian Salary in South Africa
In South Africa, wildlife veterinarians receive annual pay exceeding R490,000 in base salary, plus R8,400 in additional bonus pay. The average entry level salary for wildlife veterinarians is well over R349,000 per year while senior level professionals with the most experience see annual pay that tops R612,000.
Despite wide disparity in annual earnings by geographic region for wildlife veterinarians, additional work experience potentially increases annual salaries by about 75%. In Australia and the US, where annual salaries are highest, the difference between senior level and entry level annual pay is about AU$59,000 and $44,000, respectively. While earnings are lowest in India, senior level professionals earn about Rs266,000 more per year compared to their entry level counterparts.
Wildlife veterinarians work in a wide array of settings, including government and conservation agencies, animal habitats, educational settings in a research capacity or as professors, laboratories, or zoos and aquariums. Some may work as companion or large animal veterinarians and combine wildlife animal care into their practice. Those who are self-employed may see higher earnings and greater work flexibility, similar to those who work in for-profit organizations and the private sector who also may have greater bonus pay opportunities compared to those employed in the nonprofit or public sector.
A full-time schedule of at least 40 hours per week is common for wildlife veterinarians; however, there are some who work part-time, though these professionals are sometimes nearing retirement. While work is often done during normal business hours, there are on-call needs for emergencies that can arise during evenings, weekends, and holidays. Those who work in a research role or treat animals in their natural habitat may be required to travel at times.
Bonuses and Benefit Packages
Wildlife veterinarians often receive benefits packages that include healthcare coverage, paid time off, and reimbursement for travel expenses. Those who are self-employed typically must cover these expenses on their own, and part-time employees may not be eligible for these benefits. While bonus pay is seen worldwide, this additional pay does not often add significant amounts to overall pay.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects an 18% growth rate through 2026 among veterinarians, including those care for wildlife. A career as a wildlife veterinarian requires a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, followed by successful completion of a licensing exam. While many earn a broad degree in veterinary medicine, there are some universities that offer a specialized wildlife medicine focus. Those who are members of professional associations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians may be more competitive for some positions.
Wildlife veterinarians must complete many years of educational training, but are well compensated with solid salaries, bonus pay, and comprehensive benefits packages. There is a wide variety of work settings for wildlife veterinarians, ranging from research to field study and care to the educational classroom. Future growth in this field is expected at a faster than average rate, which should provide good employment opportunities with solid pay.