Veterinary public health professionals study how certain animal diseases can spread to humans. Read about careers in this field, job requirements and degree options to decide if this is the right career for you.
As a veterinary public health professional, you would work to prevent zoonotic diseases, which are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Training is offered in veterinary public health master's degree programs or as a concurrent degree for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students at some veterinary schools.
Once you graduate, local, state and federal government agencies are potential employers, as are universities, agribusinesses, the pharmaceutical industry and international health agencies. You might seek work in emergency management, outbreak investigation and livestock health management. As a public health veterinarian you could manage domestic and wild animal populations, manage public health emergencies or protect drinking water and food sources. You may also conduct animal disease or epidemiology research.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarians in general expected a 12% growth in employment during the 2012-2022 decade, as fast as the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Job growth for health service managers, including veterinary public health workers, was expected to increase by 23% during the same period. In May 2013, veterinarians earned a mean annual wage of $96,140, while health service managers, such as veterinary public health workers, brought home $101,340.
You could earn a Master in Public Health with a concentration in veterinary public health. Programs include a core public health education with topics like biostatistics, environmental health, ethics and public health policy. Veterinary science courses could include zoonotic and foodborne diseases, epidemiology, biomedical research, biosecurity and laboratory animal health management. Some programs may require field experience and a research project.
Another option is a joint 4-year program offering a DVM degree and a master's degree in veterinary public health. On the veterinary public health side, you'd study public health practices, behavioral science, ethics and health services management, as well as veterinary topics such as zoonoses, surveillance and epidemiology. Field experience is required, as is a master's thesis. The DVM curriculum emphasizes veterinary science, including anatomy, physiology, immunology and veterinary clinical skills. Over the course of the program you can expect to expand into parasitology, pharmacology, diagnostic imaging and animal surgery.
All states require the licensure of veterinarians. Although licensing qualifications are different in each state, a veterinarian usually needs to graduate from an accredited program and receive a passing score on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. However, veterinarians employed by federal or state government agencies may not need a state license.