How to Become a Veterinarian in Washington

A lot of training and education is involved in becoming a veterinarian in Washington and anywhere else. Candidates must start their preparations from high school and pass through an undergraduate program – ideally earning a bachelor’s degree – before enrolling in veterinary school.

Understanding this general pathway is incredibly important, not just to have a straightforward time ticking off all the steps but also to concentrate fully and get the best out of each part of the process.

With that objective in mind, we have provided the comprehensive guide below to help interested individuals become as well-prepared as possible for a potential veterinary career in Washington.

Steps to Become a Veterinarian in Washington

Below are all the steps involved in starting a career as a veterinarian in Washington.

Step 1: Undergraduate Experience

Aspiring veterinarians in Washington must complete an undergraduate degree before they can acquire a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (a postgraduate degree). Time spent in an undergraduate program for a future veterinarian must be optimized.

This includes excelling in-class work, participating in extracurricular activities, building a good reputation, and developing excellent communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills.

Step 2: Veterinary School

The most crucial factor to consider when choosing a vet school is their accreditation status. Currently, only a little above 30 vet schools in the United States of America are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education.

Accreditation is a must to obtain a license and secure employment. Candidates can become licensed in any state if they attend an AVMA-accredited vet school.

Vet School Structure

Most veterinary schools are structured so that students enjoy classroom instructions in their first three years of study while reserving the final year for hands-on training in the “real world.”

Classroom topics include components of animal anatomy, pathology, ophthalmology, and best practices for veterinary doctors.

Clinical rotations are set aside for the hands-on experience part of the education. Ultimately, candidates must be able to perform essential duties, albeit under expert supervision.

Step 3: The NAVLE

During the senior year of vet school, students participate in an examination known as the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). It is a multiple-choice exam that all vets must pass to be licensed nationwide.

Candidates often sit for their exam during the fall so that they can have an opportunity to retake it in the spring if necessary.

Explore other careers with similar paths:

Licensure & Certification Requirements

Washington, like most states, requires the NAVLE along with a state license registration process for practicing veterinarians in the state. Candidates must apply with the Veterinary Board of the Washington State Department of Health for the state registration part of the process.

They must pay a fee of $161 per year, which already includes a $16 UW HEAL-WA fee. They must undergo 30 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

The state also makes provisions for temporary licenses and has reciprocity agreements with other states. Finally, candidates must provide their transcript and resume and be prepared to undergo a background check before the state license can be officially issued.

Top Veterinary Schools in Washington

The following are some of Washington’s best options for approved veterinary education.

Washington State University

Pullman, WA Online + Campus

Washington State University is a premier accredited institution offering high-quality veterinary education for interested candidates in Washington and all across the country. Students can look forward to learning in a beautiful environment where they'll become experts in classroom theories and real-world applications.

Read more
$5,777 - $13,815
  • (509) 339-8105


Other Options

Since all accredited veterinary schools offer DVMs recognized across the country, candidates in Washington may consider accredited institutions in other states, including the vet programs at the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University, among the best in the world.

Additional options include the colleges of veterinary medicine at the University of Tennessee, the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Florida, among others.

Consider exploring veterinarian schools in neighboring states:

Salary & Career Outlook

Generally, Veterinarians in Washington earn an annual average salary of $139,846. That said, when narrowed to the top ten percent only, this figure climbs to as high as $201,354 in yearly average wage.

Conversely, when narrowed to the bottom ten percent, this figure recedes to around $97,114 in annual average salary. Factors that decide whether veterinarians in Washington fall into the midpoint, lower, or higher part of the salary spectrum include their establishment of employment, specialty area, location, and experience level.

Taking location as the predominant factor, Bellevue, Gig Harbor, and Seattle are the highest-paying cities to be a veterinarian in Washington, with annual average salaries of $176,830, $171,411, and $143,019, respectively.

Puyallup and Tacoma are among the top five, with annual average salaries of $139,653 and $132,153, respectively.