Becoming a Veterinarian

Veterinarians provide health care services to various animals such as pets, livestock, as well as zoo, sporting, and laboratory animals. They may focus on one type of animal such as dogs or exotic animals, or work with a variety of animals. They may also choose to specialize in surgery, medicine or other field.

Their responsibilities include diagnosing patient animals, prescribing medications, performing surgeries, providing vaccinations, conducting euthanasia, assisting in post-operative care, operating diagnostic equipment, educating animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments so on and so forth. Some of these professionals work to protect humans against diseases carried by animals, while others may conduct clinical research on various health problems of animals and medical advancement for treatment and prevention of various animal diseases.

Work Environment

Veterinarians work in varieties of settings such as veterinary hospitals, private clinics, scientific laboratories, zoos, farms, educational institutions, research facilities. These professionals, who work in private practices, typically care for small animals such as dogs, cats and birds. Since the injured or sick animals make noise, the work place of the Veterinarians may be noisy. The Veterinarians may also have to be on-call frequently. They may work over 40 hours per week, including nights and weekends, and need to travel.

Educational Requirements

To become a Veterinarian, the aspiring candidates must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. The D.V.M. program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components. The course work includes animal anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, animal behavior etc. However, an entry to veterinary school usually requires a bachelor’s degree.

Since the Veterinarians must be licensed in the U.S., the prospective veterinarians have to pass the standardized North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers certification to these professionals.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities for the Veterinarians may rise 9% from 2014 to 2024. The average annual salary of a Veterinarian was $87,590 in 2014.