How to Become a Veterinarian
Veterinarian Job Details
Skills and Qualities of a Veterinarian
Veterinarian Salary
Influential Veterinarians
Leading Organizations for Veterinarians
Top Cities for Veterinarian Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Veterinarian

A lot of veterinarians began their careers as volunteers at local vet clinics, animal hospitals, or the humane society. Through volunteer work they gain experience, not to mention volunteer work is often a requirement to get into veterinarian schools.

Veterinarians are required to graduate from an accredited college of veterinary medicine with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (D.V.M. or V.M.D.). Veterinarians are also required to have a state license. Many of the doctorate programs do not require applicants to have a Bachelor's degree for admission into their programs. But they may require a significant number of science prerequisite courses (45 - 90 semester hours) at the undergraduate level. Candidates with a Bachelor's degree generally have a better chance for acceptance into a program. Applicants must also submit scores from their Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), depending on the requirements of the college to which they are applying.

Some graduates will begin their practice after they receive their license, and some may choose to enter a one year internship which generally will lead to a higher paying position. Those wishing to receive a board certification will have to complete a 3 to 4 year residency program that provides intensive training in one of the 20 AVMA veterinary specialties. Due to the limited number of universities that offer a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree, it may be difficult to obtain acceptance to one of the accredited universities. Training and good grades are very important in this highly competitive environment.

What does a Veterinarian do?

Veterinarians are responsible for diagnosing and treating disease and dysfunctions in animals. Some veterinarians are involved in research and development, consultation, administration, technical writing, sale or production of commercial products, or rendering of technical services to commercial firms or other organizations.

Veterinarians may care for health of pets, livestock, and animals in zoos, racetracks, and laboratories. Some conduct clinical research on human and animal health problems. Most veterinarians diagnose animal health problems, vaccinate against diseases such as rabies, medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses, treat and dress wounds, set fractures, perform surgery, and advise about feeding, behavior, and breeding.

Some common job titles are Veterinarian (Vet), Veterinary Medicine Doctor (DVM), Small Animal Veterinarian, Large Animal Veterinarian, Staff Veterinarian, Companion Animal Practitioner, Emergency Veterinarian, Medical Director, Mixed Animal Veterinarian, and Veterinary Intern.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Veterinarian?

If you are thinking about becoming a veterinarian, it helps to have the following skills: active listening, reading comprehension, critical thinking, complex problem solving skills, speaking, science, time management, judgment and decision making, active listening, and the ability to use mathematics to solve problem.

Veterinarians should have a love for animals and the ability to communicate well with others. They must be able to deal with difficult matters, respond to medical emergencies, and be willing to work during non traditional working hours.

Most veterinarian schools have a high expectation of academic achievement.

How much does a Veterinarian make?

The salaries for veterinarians range from $44,150 to $134,920 a year. The average annual salary for a veterinarian is $84,090. States with the highest concentration of veterinarians are Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, New Mexico, and Vermont. The top paying states for veterinarians are District of Columbia ($128,460), Connecticut ($111,040), New Jersey ($108,280), New York ($104,830), and Nevada ($103,090).

Employment of veterinarians is expected to increase 35% over the 2006 - 16 decade. Employment opportunities are good in both cities and suburbs, but better in the rural areas because less people tend to compete for those positions.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Dr. R. L. Collinson of Mountain View, California, received the AVMA Award for distinguished contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations. He is one of the founding directors of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and has served as its chair since 1998 (

Dr. James K. Payne of Tarpon Springs, Florida, received the AVMA Public Service Award for outstanding contributions to public health and regulatory veterinary medicine. He has assisted U.S. Congress with developing vital language used in the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 and the Wholesome Poultry Act of 1968. He was a founding member of the American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians. He is also a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has more than 76,000 members. AVMA is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as the accrediting body for the 28 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States. The AVMA educational standards of excellence are recognized worldwide as the "gold standard" in veterinarian education. Many foreign veterinarian schools use the AVMA as the model for their school curricula (

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is the national foundation for veterinary medicine and animal health. It is designed to promote animal well-being and enhance medicine research efforts.

What are the top cities for Veterinarian jobs?

The top cities for veterinarians depend on the specialization positions. Large animal veterinarians are more often in demand in farming areas, while small animal veterinarians are more common in cities.

Phoenix, Arizona is the top city for general practice veterinarians. Riverside, California, Columbus, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Los Angeles, California are also good cities for veterinarian careers.

Metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of veterinarians are Ames, Indiana, Ocala, Florida, Lawrence, Kansas, Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky, and Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado.

Top paying metropolitan areas for veterinarians are Newark New Jersey, Union Pennsylvania, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Cincinnati, Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, California.

Job prospects are better for veterinarians who specialize in farm animals because of lower earnings in the farm animal specialty. Veterinarians with training in food safety and security, animal health and welfare, and public health and epidemiology should have best opportunities for a career in the Federal Government.

Other Careers of Interest

Animal Care Worker
The job is highly physical and at times can be quite taxing. Depending on the types and numbers an animal care worker deals with, the job can also...

Game Warden
Game wardens, also referred to as conservation officers or wildlife officers, enforce fishing, hunting, and boating laws. They patrol hunting and...

Veterinary Assistant
A veterinary assistant aids the veterinarian during an animal's standard visit to a clinic. The veterinary assistant performs many different functions,...

Veterinary Technician
Veterinary technicians perform routine laboratory and clinical procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian. The duties of a veterinary technician...

Wildlife Worker
Depending on what you want to do, and depending on the field you chose, you'll be carrying out assigned duties according to instructions from a...

Zoologists study animals and wildlife. This includes the animals' behavior, diseases, genetics and the way that they function and behave. Zoologists...

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