Becoming a Veterinary Pathologist

Veterinary Pathologists are doctors of veterinary medicine who specialize in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases in varieties of animals such as pets, livestock, wild animals, captive zoo animals etc. based on the laboratory analysis of body tissues and fluids. Their key responsibilities include examining animal tissues and fluids, performing biopsies or necropsies, identifying the cause of disease through observation and laboratory analysis, advising government agencies and others to prevent the spread of various animal diseases. They also play an important role in scientific research, drug discovery and safety of animals as well as human beings, who are involved with animals in one way or other. Many of these professionals hold significant positions on research teams, exploring some of the world’s most serious issues, such as cancer, bird flu, swine flu and AIDS.

Work Environment

Veterinary Pathologists work in various settings in different capacities including government entities, diagnostic laboratories, veterinary hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, research facilities, educational institutions, zoos, wildlife groups etc. They may specialize by working in either anatomical veterinary pathology or clinical veterinary pathology. Most of them work full time during standard hours. They may also work in different schedules, including nights and weekends, and need to travel.

Educational Requirements:

To become a Veterinary Pathologist, the aspiring candidates must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and complete a postdoctoral degree program in anatomical or clinical pathology. Courses in a veterinary pathology program may include molecular biology, microbiology, necropsy and biopsy, hematology and diagnosing pathological systems. They may also explore cancer biology, viral pathogenesis, infectious diseases, or toxicological pathology.

Since Veterinary Pathologists needs to be licensed in the US, the candidates must obtain a veterinary license by passing the North American Veterinary Licensure Exam. The American College of Veterinary Pathologists offer certification to these professionals.

Job Outlook and Salary:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth rate of Veterinary Pathologists may rise 12% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Veterinary Pathologist was $87,590 in May 2014.