How to Become a Veterinarian in Pennsylvania

Veterinarians in Pennsylvania have to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an approved program. From there, they have to fulfill a handful of examination requirements, experience requirements, and continuing education requirements to not only work professionally but keep doing so at a very high level.

Understanding all of these prerequisites can be challenging without having the right resources to consult. For this reason, we have provided a comprehensive guide analyzing all the essential details that future veterinarians in Pennsylvania must know to begin their careers appropriately.

We also highlight some of the top accredited veterinary programs in the state, along with the potential salary to look forward to.

Steps to Become a Veterinarian in Pennsylvania

The following are the steps required to become a veterinarian in Pennsylvania.

Step 1: Prepare for High School

Nearly 7,000 applicants compete for less than 3000 openings in veterinary schools nationwide. To be successful, candidates are advised to start their preparations from high school. This involves taking relevant subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology.

Step 2: Choose a Degree Program

Future veterinarians are expected to complete an undergraduate degree program. Naturally, it makes sense for candidates to enroll in programs that are related to biology and physical sciences.

Candidates must also maintain a high grade-point average and try to acquire as much animal and clinical experience as possible, even while they are still undergraduates.

Step 3: Choose a Veterinary School

There are many factors to consider when choosing a veterinary school, but ultimately, accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association is the most crucial criterion.

Candidates who successfully secure admission into a veterinary school may look forward to extensive classes in anatomy, animal behavior, ophthalmology, pharmacology, and veterinary physiology, among other topics, in their first three years of study. Afterward, they will have to receive hands-on experience by working in real-world clinical practices.

Step 4: Earn a License and gain Experience

All aspiring veterinarians must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. This differs from the state-specific licensing procedures, but it is also just as important – if not more.

From there, candidates may secure employment once they obtain their doctor of veterinary medicine degree and start considering specialization.

Step 5: Choose Specialty

Specialization is not compulsory for a veterinary doctor, but it has benefits, which is why many people do it. Some of the more popular specialty areas in veterinary medicine include exotic animal veterinary medicine, feline veterinary medicine, and veterinary dentistry, among others.

Explore other careers with similar paths:

Licensure & Certification Requirements

Practicing veterinarians in Pennsylvania must have acquired a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and passed their North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

The state demands that proof of graduation must be sent from the American Veterinary Medical Association or other appropriate bodies. Candidates may also use their National Board Examination (NBE) and Clinical Competency Test (CCT) results instead of the NAVLE.

Also specific to the state, candidates must pay a $35 initial registration fee and continue to renew their license through 30 hours of continuing education.

License renewal also incurs a $360 renewal fee. Candidates are expected to renew their licenses every two years.

Applicants from other states may take advantage of the state’s reciprocity agreement. Currently, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows candidates who have had a valid license from another state and have been practicing for 5 years to practice in the state. They only have to pay the required fees and submit appropriate documentation.

Top Veterinary Schools in Pennsylvania

Interested applicants in Pennsylvania may consider some of the top programs below for their veterinary education.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania in Lancaster is the only veterinary school in the state that is accredited by the American Veterinary Association’s Council on Education. The program graduates about 120 students every year and is known to have quality instructors and modern facilities.

Neighboring Options

Aspiring veterinarians in Pennsylvania looking for additional options may consider accredited programs in states close to Pennsylvania. For example, the state of New York has two accredited programs: Cornell University and Long Island University.

Consider exploring Veterinarian schools in neighboring states:

Salary & Career Outlook

The annual average salary for a veterinarian in Pennsylvania is $110,892. This figure was obtained from a survey of around 500 veterinarians in the state. According to the same dataset, veterinarians in the top 10% of earners in the state take home an annual average salary of $177,971. In comparison, those in the bottom 10% earn an average yearly salary of $69,095.

Factors that influence the salary of a veterinarian in Pennsylvania include experience, location, and specialization.

Harrisburg is the highest-paying city for veterinarians in Pennsylvania, with an annual average salary of $171,828. This is followed by Lancaster, with an average yearly salary of $140,212. Pittsburgh, York, and Philadelphia are the other cities in the top five, with average annual wages of $121,634, $121,582, and $106,677, respectively.