What Are Some Veterinarian Career Options?

Not all veterinarians treat people's pets in offices. There are several career options for veterinarians, and they range from conducting research to working with large or exotic animals. Veterinarian career options include going into clinical practice, private practice, agriculture or one of several other fields. Learn more about these options here. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview for Veterinarians

All veterinarians are required to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), which entails four years of schooling beyond the undergraduate level. While a bachelor's degree isn't necessarily required for admission to a DVM program, extensive prerequisite coursework is necessary, including undergraduate courses in biology, anatomy, animal science, and related subjects. Upon earning a DVM, aspiring vets must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

Vets who want to specialize in a particular sub-discipline, like surgery or internal medicine, often complete residencies lasting 3-4 years beyond veterinary school, after which they pursue board certification. Listed below are a few major industries for veterinarians.

Important Facts About Veterinarians

Work Environment Animal hospital, clinic, farm, classroom, laboratory
On-the-Job Training Specific training may be required depending on position
Key Skills Decision making, compassion, management, dexterity, interpersonal skills, problem solving
Similar Occupations Agricultural scientist, animal care worker, physician

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Veterinary Research

Veterinarians who choose to work in research can focus on developing better approaches to healthcare for both humans and animals. A few potential areas of research might include:

  • Pharmaceuticals: Developing, testing and supervising drug production and distribution
  • Human health: Helping to find treatments for malaria, yellow fever and developing various surgical techniques
  • Dairy research: Studying healthy techniques to prepare dairy and poultry products

Private or Clinical Offices

Many college programs today train veterinarians in the business aspects of the career, as well as in the practical care of animals. As such, they can be owners, managers and caregivers. Depending on their interests, vets can also specialize in:

  • Small animals: dogs, cats, rodents
  • Horses
  • Exotic animals: fish, reptiles
  • Mixed animals: pigs, goats, cattle, sheep, wild animals

Government Agencies

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 1,200 veterinarians were employed by the federal executive government branch as of 2014. These professionals might find positions in government-run veterinary hospitals or clinics, or they might offer their services in animal husbandry departments. Opportunities might exist on government-run land such as stud farms, piggeries, national parks and wildlife preserves.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Payscale.com reports that veterinarians in general earned a median salary of $72,299 per year as of 2015. According to the BLS, the number of employed veterinarians was expected to increase 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the national average.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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