Veterinarian Career Overview

Veterinarians provide much-needed care for all types of animals. The field requires a great deal of compassion and education. It is particularly suitable for those with a strong passion for animals and a predisposition to caring for others.

If you are considering a career as a veterinarian, the sections below should go a long way in helping you become familiar with what the field entails and what to expect along the course of a potential career.

By the time you complete the article, you will have learned everything you need to know to start the journey yourself or, at the very least, decide whether or not the occupation is for you.

Who Are Veterinarians?

Veterinarians are trained extensively to take care of a wide range of animals. They are usually familiar with medical conditions that affect these animals and how to diagnose them and provide effective treatment.

Usually, a veterinarian would be adept at caring for most companion animals, but they can focus on one of the other field categories.

For instance, a veterinarian who focuses on companion animals such as cats and dogs is known as a companion animal veterinarian. Exotic animal veterinarians focus on exotic pets such as reptiles and amphibians, while livestock veterinarians focus on large animals like cattle and goats.

Lastly, a public practice veterinarian usually works to help the public curtail animal disease that can spread to the broader population.

What Do Veterinarians Do? - Job Duties and Responsibilities

Most veterinarians will provide direct patient care for animals in need during their careers. Their day-to-day duties and responsibilities will include:

  • Carrying out diagnostic tests and wellness exams to understand what is wrong with an animal.
  • Carrying out treatment of wounds.
  • Prescribing medications to treat illnesses.
  • Performing surgery.
  • Analyzing and interpreting test results.
  • Coming up with healthy diet and feeding schedules.
  • Teaching pet owners how to take care of their pets and improve their overall health.
  • Performing subsequent checkups to monitor progress and behavior,
  • Administering various vaccinations.
  • Operating a handful of medical equipment.

Work Environment

84% of veterinarians in 2021 found employment at various veterinary services, 8 percent were self-employed, and 3% worked for the government. The other 2% worked in a handful of state, local, and private educational services and social advocacy organizations.

It is common for veterinarians in veterinary services to work in private clinics and hospitals, traveling from offices to work in farms or classrooms and laboratories.

Those who work in food safety usually travel to food processing plants to ensure these facilities adhere to critical safety protocols.

Veterinarians should expect to deal with animals that may lash out on account of being frightened and in pain. They should also be ready to work with diseased animals.

How To Become a Veterinarian

The following are the typical steps involved in becoming a veterinarian:

Start Preparing from High School

For aspiring veterinarians who know what they will be from high school, start preparing from that point by taking classes in mathematics, English, and laboratory sciences. Subjects like animal science and biology also help breed familiarity.

It is also imperative to keep a high GPA to secure College admission.

Earn a Degree

Aspiring veterinarian has to pay attention to the college that they choose. And also the program. Before entering veterinary programs, it is advisable to go for degrees such as biology, microbiology, zoology, chemistry, and anatomy.

Completing some prerequisite courses is usually essential for securing admission into a veterinary school. These include chemistry, genetics, English, humanities, and biochemistry courses.

Enter into a Veterinary School

After completing a regular college and obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the next step in becoming a veterinarian is applying for admission into an accredited veterinary school. The country has around 30 AVMA-approved veterinary colleges, which makes admission quite competitive.

This is one of the reasons why completing a bachelor’s degree program is advisable, as it helps make admission into vet schools more straightforward.

Candidates may also have to take standardized tests such as a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to increase their chances of admission.

Earn your General License

Before they graduate from veterinary school, all veterinarians in the country must pass a general license exam known as the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). This is a computerized exam that includes 360 multiple-choice questions. This is different from the state licensing requirements.

Choose a Specialty

Lastly, after fulfilling all the requirements above, veterinarians are also expected to choose a specialty, including small animals, large animals, zoo animals, equine, research, and mixed practice veterinary medicine.

Salary and Career Outlook

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, veterinarians earn a median annual salary of around $100,370. This aligns with the veterinarian wage data obtained by the Bureau in May 2021.

The data also revealed that those in the highest 10% of earners took home around $165,600, while those in the lowest 10% still managed an annual average salary of $60,760.

Sorted by industries, veterinarians in veterinary services earned a median annual salary of $100,460, followed by those in social advocacy organizations with a median annual salary of $99,340 and those in government with a median yearly salary of $96,120.

Veterinarians in state, local, and private educational services earned a median annual salary of $93,770.

Career Outlook

The demand for veterinarians is set to go up by 19% between 2021 and 2031. According to the BLS, this will result in about 4,800 new jobs created for veterinarians each year within that period.

Some of these will arise due to veterinarians moving into other occupations or retiring. Much of it will also be due to continual increases in spending by pet owners and more significant advancements in veterinary medicine.