How to Become a Veterinarian
If you love animals, and are interested in health and science, then you might like to become a veterinarian. Vets provide diagnosis, treatment, and care to animals who are unwell. Many veterinarians work with domestic animals, others work on farms, while some may work in a laboratory completing research into animal's health.
There can be stiff competition surrounding this occupation, so if you would like to become a veterinarian, you will need to be prepared to work hard and also to do a lot of studying. Achieving good grades in high school and college will be integral in securing a career as a vet.
It's also important to know that when you become a veterinarian, you are going to face some challenges. You will often be exposed to cases of animal cruelty, as well as having to put down sick or unwell animals.
Education Requirements to Become a Veterinarian
If you're in high school, it's important that you do well in math and the sciences. You may also like to get a volunteer job at a local branch of SPCA, or even at a pet store or animal shelter.
You'll need to complete a four year bachelor degree that has a major in science. Some schools offer a pre-veterinarian major that you could enter. The American Veterinary Medicine Association, or AVMA, has information about accredited undergraduate courses, as well as veterinary schools.
After you complete college, you'll need to gain entry to a veterinary school where you will complete a four year doctorate in veterinary medicine. There are 27 schools across the country which offers this qualification.
After you finish your doctorate, you'll need to take the North American Veterinarian License exam before you can practice. You may also need to fill further requirements within your state for licensing purposes.
Veterinarian Job Description
When you become a veterinarian, you will be responsible for the medical care of all kinds of animals. While many vets work with domestic animals like cats and dogs, there is also work out there for vets that work with farm animals like horses and sheep, and also vets who can take care of sick or injured wildlife.
Some vets work in research, where they may conduct medical trials involving animals. They could also research various animal diseases, or develop new drugs.
Other vets may become academics, who research animals and publish papers on their findings. They may also teach aspiring veterinarians.
Here are some of the duties of a veterinarian:
- Examine an animal
- Diagnose and treat disease and injury
- Prescribe medicines for animals
- Develop treatment plans for animals
- Follow up to track progress
- Keep accurate records on animals
- Refer animals to other specialists
- Encourage animals to feel safe
- Communicate with animals and their owners
Veterinarian Salary and Career Path
Most veterinarians start their career working in practice, usually under the guidance of a more experienced vet. They will go on to have more responsibility in their role and start taking on more cases.
Many young vets become inspectors at meat and poultry farms, research assistants, work in the armed forces, or for the US health department.
After a few years, many vets open their own practices. They may also decide to enter research, or even become teachers. Starting your own practice can be rather costly, as it takes a lot of money to purchase all of the equipment needed, along with supporting your own staff.
The median salary for a veterinarian is $80,000 a year. Those just starting their career could expect to earn around $60,000 a year, while the top 10% of earners make more than $140,000 a year. Those who work with domestic pets tend to make more money than those who work with farm animals.
Some similar jobs to a veterinarian include:
- Veterinary Technician
- Animal Care Worker
- Park Ranger
If you love animals and feel an affinity with them, and think you could handle speaking to their owners as well, then you might like to become a veterinarian. There is excellent salary available for those who are interested in this career path. Entry into college can be competitive, and the amount of study required is high, but those who put in the hard work will find this to be a very rewarding career path.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics