Degree options in veterinary sciences and medicine can lead to a variety of career choices, from hands-on animal care to medical research. Get details about career prospects and the education, training and credentials required for employment.
Veterinary science and medicine involves providing therapeutic treatment and healthy nutrition for various species of animals, including zoo animals, livestock and pets. Most veterinarians diagnose, prevent and treat animals' health problems. Others work in research or study diseases that can be transmitted by animals to humans. You might also choose to specialize in caring for a particular species. For example, equine veterinarians work strictly with horses.
If you are interested in becoming a veterinary technician or technologist, an associate's degree program in veterinary technology can provide you with the training to assist veterinarians with procedures and act as a nurse to the animals. If you are interested in becoming a fully trained veterinarian, bachelor's degrees are available with an emphasis on pre-veterinary science and medicine. These undergraduate programs provide a good foundation for graduate programs and more advanced careers in veterinary medicine.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 18% of veterinarians owned their own practice in 2012 (www.bls.gov). In addition, employment is expected to grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022; this is an average rate of increase when compared with all occupations. In May 2013, veterinarians earned a median hourly wage of $40.66 and a median annual wage of $86,640. Veterinary technologists and technicians earned a median hourly wage of $14.66, with a median annual wage of $30,500 in that same year, the BLS reported. Jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians are predicted to increase 30% from 2012-2022.
If you want to work in veterinary science and medicine, you have a variety of career options and degree programs to choose from. Veterinary technicians usually complete an associate's degree from a community college program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In some cases, you can pursue a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. Undergraduate pre-veterinary coursework can include classes in biology, chemistry and physics. Other classes focus on various animal diseases, causes and treatments.
Prospective veterinarians must earn their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from a school of veterinary medicine, many of which are accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Admission to all schools of veterinary medicine is extremely competitive. In order to apply to DVM programs, you must submit test scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Some schools require a bachelor's degree with a pre-veterinary focus, while others might accept you before you complete your undergraduate program. After completing a DVM degree program, you typically complete an internship or begin working with an established practice.
Licensure and certification requirements for veterinary technologists and technicians vary from state to state. Most states require that you complete coursework and pass the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) examination.
To practice veterinary science and medicine, you must hold a state license. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all require a DVM to qualify. Additionally, many require candidates to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. To seek board certification in an area of specialty like surgery, you must complete a residency program of either three or four years of intensive training in your area of interest.