How to Become a Veterinarian in Kentucky

It is hard enough to start a career as a veterinarian anywhere in the country. Going into the journey with a clear picture of what the process entails is almost a guarantee of becoming overwhelmed and discouraged.

However, those familiar with these steps, requirements, and considerations right from the start will have a much better chance to optimize their approach at every stage and avoid getting discouraged.

The guide below is a veritable resource to help you acclimate to all the crucial steps in becoming a veterinarian in Kentucky. Along with the educational, licensure, and certification requirements, we have also included an overview of the potential salary and a list of the top accredited training schools in and around the state.

Steps to Become a Veterinarian in Kentucky

The following are the steps in becoming a veterinarian in Kentucky, from high school to vet school and beyond.

Step 1: Prepare from High School

Candidates don’t always have to be sure of their career path from high school. However, future vets in Kentucky who have known their career choice since high school are advised to take prerequisites in mathematics, physical, biological, and laboratory sciences and other related courses.

It is also helpful to maintain good grades and a high GPA.

Step 2: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

Even though it is technically possible, veterinary schools very rarely accept students who don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, candidates are advised to enroll in undergraduate majors that will help them gain a foundational knowledge of what to expect in vet school.

To do this, candidates may enroll in majors focusing on biology, biochemistry, animal science, or chemistry.

Step 3: Earn a DVM

A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree is crucial for all veterinarians. This is the postgraduate degree conferred to verify successful completion in veterinary school.

Naturally, the first step in earning a DVM is to be accepted into an AVMA-approved veterinary school in the first place. Below, we examine a few relevant alternatives for candidates in Kentucky.

Accepted students should be prepared to spend their first three years in vet school studying classroom topics, including parasitology, radiology, veterinary physiology, and animal health.

Step 4: NAVLE

All veterinarians must earn their national license by passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. This exam contains 360 questions and is computer-based.

Step 5: Specializations

After completing the above steps, veterinarians in Kentucky may choose to specialize as small animal veterinarians, large animal veterinarians, zoo veterinarians, research veterinarians, or even mixed practice veterinarians.

Explore other careers with similar paths:

Licensure & Certification Requirements

The Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners is in charge of setting the licensing specifications for veterinarians in Kentucky. Candidates are expected to apply for licensure in a process that may take 60 to 90 days.

A $100 fee is involved for a license valid for 2 years and requires 30 hours of continuing education.

Lastly, individuals must complete a background check and submit their transcripts before a license can be issued.

Top Veterinary Schools in Kentucky

Aspiring veterinarians in Kentucky may consider the options below for high-quality education and guaranteed accreditation.

Lincoln Memorial University

Harrogate, TN Online Only

Lincoln Memorial University's Richard A. Gillespie College of Veterinary Medicine is accredited by the AVMA and offers the quality of education that one would expect from such an institution. It is also close enough to make it a viable option for residents of Kentucky.

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$25,180 - $26,448 per Year
  • (423) 869-6280


University of Missouri-Columbia

Columbia, MO Online Only

The University of Missouri-Columbia is another school with an incredible AVMA-accredited Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program that is near enough to be an excellent option for interested candidates in Kentucky.

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$14,122 - $38,240 per Year
  • (573) 882-7786


The Ohio State University

Columbus, OH Online Only

Lastly, future vets in Kentucky may also consider Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine for its extensive and rigorous training. The school has a reputation for continually producing successful graduates thanks to a competent faculty and beautiful facilities for complete training.

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$12,485 - $37,437
  • (614) 292-1171


Consider exploring Veterinarian schools in neighboring states:

Salary & Career Outlook

An average veterinarian in Kentucky’s annual salary is $118,593 - on par with the national average. This is according to data released from a survey of veterinarians in the state conducted by Indeed.

The results also revealed that veterinarians in the state can earn as much as $177,585 once they fall into the top 10% of earners. Conversely, a Kentucky veterinarian may reach as low as an annual average salary of $79.197 should they fall among the bottom 10%.

To move from the bottom of the salary spectrum, candidates may optimize factors like experience and location. Richmond, Paducah, and Wilder are the highest paying cities to be a veterinarian in Kentucky, with annual average salaries of $138,934, $136,263, and $129,785.