How to Become a Veterinarian in Illinois

As a veterinarian in Illinois, you will be responsible for saving the lives of numerous pets and bringing joy and comfort to various pet owners across the state. This is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and as such, there are a few requirements that an aspiring veterinarian in the state has to pass through to begin their careers.

Future vets in Illinois will be glad to know that we have highlighted below all the critical steps in starting a veterinarian career in the state. Along with the basic and advanced educational requirements, we have included a few licensure and certification considerations and some top accredited programs in and around the form to enroll in.

Steps to Become a Veterinarian in Illinois

Future veterinarians in Illinois may consider the following steps to start their careers.

Step 1: Basic Requirements

The ultimate objective of any aspiring veterinarian is to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and secure employment. To begin this journey, candidates must have a strong foundation in high school subjects such as biology, physics, and chemistry.

Step 2: Bachelor’s Degree

Before they can gain admission into a veterinary medical school, future veterinarians must first earn a bachelor’s degree. Pursuing a degree in biology, chemistry, and animal science is most advisable as it is closely related to the duties of a veterinarian.

It is also common for students to participate in business and communications classes to help develop additional skills they will need to thrive as doctors of veterinary medicine.

Step 3: Enroll and Graduate from Vet School

The body accrediting veterinary colleges nationwide is the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. Candidates must attend an accredited program for their education to be valid.

These programs take four years to complete, with the final year usually reserved for real-world experience. Graduates will leave with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Candidates must also pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, which is usually done while in senior year of veterinary school.

Step 4: Experience & Specialization

After obtaining their license, veterinarians in Illinois have to gain experience by working in a veterinary practice. They may also choose an area of specialization to hone their skills even further.

Specialization usually requires undergoing a residency and optionally obtaining certification. Among possible areas of specialization include canine and feline practice and exotic animal veterinary practice.

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Licensure & Certification Requirements

In Illinois, like every other state, veterinarians are expected to have their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. However, in the state, they are also likely to pay a licensing fee of $100 and renew their licenses every two years.

Candidates must also keep improving through continuing education, particularly 40 hours every two years coinciding with license renewal. Applicants are expected to send their transcripts and proof of graduation to the state, after which they may proceed to pay the registration fee and receive their license.

Illinois also has a reciprocity agreement allowing veterinarians from other states to practice legally in Illinois.

Top Veterinary Schools in Illinois

The following are some of the top veterinary schools in Illinois.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois in Urbana is the only veterinary program in the state that the American Veterinary Medical Association accredits.

To secure admission into this program, candidates must go through a three-phase process that involves cognitive evaluation, noncognitive evaluation, and interview.

Candidates with special recognition, community service, and animal-related experience will have a higher chance of securing admission into the program.

Additional Options

Candidates looking for other options may consider the programs offered by accredited colleges in neighboring states. For example, Wisconsin has an accredited program at the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, while there is also another certified program at the Michigan State University in Michigan.

Consider exploring veterinarian schools in neighboring States

Salary & Career Outlook

As a future veterinarian in Illinois, you may look forward to a starting annual average salary of $78,198. This figure is commensurate with the average yearly salary of the bottom 10% of veterinarians in the state.

Those in the midpoint earn an annual average salary of $124,620 (same as the national average), while those in the top 10% earn an average yearly salary of $198,601.

Of course, numerous factors can influence where exactly a veterinarian will fall in the salary spectrum. Still, the most prominent are experience, location, specialization, and institution of employment.

Sorting by location, for example, veterinarians in Glen Carbon earn an annual average salary of $200,000, while those in Latham earn an average yearly salary of $142,302. These are the top two highest-paying cities.