Veterinary pathobiology and pathology involve the exploration and diagnosis of animal diseases. Find out about related job responsibilities, degree program requirements, areas of specialization and course topics.
Pathology is a branch of medicine that studies the causes and nature of disease. Pathobiology is a branch of biology that concentrates on the biological aspects of disease rather than the medical. Pathobiology is also interdisciplinary, combining with microbiology, genetics, anatomy and animal science.
To pursue a career as a veterinary pathologist, you must complete a graduate-level degree program, such as a Master of Science or Ph.D. in Genetics, Microbiology or Pathology. As a veterinary pathologist, you have various job options, including a forensic pathologist, biomedical technician, immunologist or biomedical researcher.
Veterinary pathobiology degree programs may allow you to pursue a focus in either anatomical pathology or clinical pathology. Anatomical pathology involves the study of tissues and organs to better understand the effects and causes of diseases. Clinical pathology is the laboratory analysis of blood, urine and other bodily fluids to diagnose and prevent disease.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific employment information for veterinary pathology careers, it does provide data for related fields in veterinary medicine and medical science. Based on BLS data, employment opportunities for veterinarians and medical scientists are projected to increase by 12% and 13%, respectively, from 2012-2022.
In 2012, the American College of Veterinary Pathologists reported that the majority of their members working in veterinary pathology earned an annual salary well over $100,000. Many salaries exceeded $200,000 per year. Salaries are dependent on years in the profession and educational background.
As an undergraduate, you may choose to major in veterinary pathobiology. Your core curriculum might include pathobiology and biology principles and animal science, as well as anatomy, physiology, health and animal disease management. You can also expect courses in biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, nutritional science, immunology and cell biology. You also learn to analyze and diagnose using veterinary laboratory equipment. A bachelor's in pathobiology is generally suitable as pre-vet preparation if you want to enter veterinary school.
For a more advanced degree, you might pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in Veterinary Pathology or Pathobiology. Also available at the graduate level are Ph.D. programs in veterinary pathobiology. The master's program may require a thesis and offer specializations in veterinary clinical pathology, veterinary toxicology and veterinary parasitology. Courses may include biological sciences, statistics, systemic pathology, diagnostic interpretation and lab in postmortem pathology. A Ph.D. in Veterinary Pathobiology is a graduate research program with concentrations in immunology, toxicology and infectious disease.
If you are a veterinarian, you can enroll in a master's program in pathology, which includes a residency. Completion of the residency makes you eligible to take the American College of Veterinary Pathologists certification exam. Degree programs may include courses, seminars, teaching experiences and final exams, along with a project, which must be publishable in a professional journal.