An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but man’s best friend needs a checkup once in a while no matter how healthy its diet is. Veterinarians diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals. Veterinarians treat illnesses and injuries, conduct surgical and medical procedures and dental work, and vaccinate animals against diseases. They also teach owners preventive healthcare. Veterinarians have different types of practices: Companion animal veterinarians most often work at clinics and care for cats and dogs, but also treat other pets, such as birds, ferrets, and rabbits. Equine veterinarians work with horses involved in performing, farming and racing. Food animal veterinarians work at farms and ranches to treat farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep. Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect and test livestock and animal products for major animal diseases, and work to improve animal health and reduce disease transmission. They also enforce food safety regulations. Research veterinarians work in laboratories, conducting clinical research on human and animal health problems, and may test effects of drug therapies or new surgical techniques. Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, usually a 4-year program, and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing examination. Veterinary school is highly competitive and typically requires applicants to have taken many science classes in college.
If you work as a veterinarian, you care for the health of animals and work to protect public health. Veterinarians diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals. You could also carry the job title of Companion Animal Practitioner, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Emergency Veterinarian (Emergency Vet), Large Animal Veterinarian (Large Animal Vet), Mixed Animal Veterinarian (Mixed Animal Vet), Small Animal Veterinarian (Small Animal Vet), Veterinary Medicine Doctor (DVM), Veterinary Surgeon (Vet Surgeon), Veterinary Surgical Specialist (Vet Surgical Specialist), Zoo Veterinarian (Zoo Vet).
- Examine animals to assess their health and diagnose problems.
- Treat and dress wounds.
- Perform surgery on animals.
- Test for and vaccinate against diseases.
- Operate medical equipment, such as x-ray machines.
- Advise animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments.
- Prescribe medication.
- Euthanize animals.
Median Wage 2019: approximately $95,000 annually
Employment of Veterinarians is projected to grow 16% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
For more information
- American Animal Hospital Association
- American Association of Bovine Practitioners
- American Association of Equine Practitioners
- American Association of Feline Practitioners
- American Association of Swine Veterinarians
- American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
- American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
- American College of Veterinary Surgeons
- American Heartworm Society
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- DVM 360
- VSPN Veterinary Organizations and Associations
(Veterinary Support and Personnel Network)
- Association of Avian Veterinarians
- Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
- Association of Primate Veterinarians
Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.
Admission to veterinary programs is competitive. Most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, and animal science. Most programs also require math, humanities, and social science courses.
To find an institution of higher education that offers a program relative to your career aspirations as a veterinarian, the easiest place to start for most people is to perform a simple search by area of interest.
To help you prepare, there are undergraduate degree programs in public and private postsecondary colleges and universities across the country in the following areas:
- Animal Science
- Pre-Veterinary Studies
There are many public and private postsecondary colleges and universities across the country offering a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.