Career Options for Veterinarians

In addition to working at clinics, veterinarians may work in many other settings and for different employers, such as government agencies or research facilities. Any type of work performed as a veterinarian usually means meeting licensing requirements, except for some positions with government agencies. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Traditional Career Options for Veterinarians

Most veterinarians share the same educational requirements. To get started in the field, you must first complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from an accredited college and then gain licensure from the state in which you plan to work. Once you have your training and licensure, however, your options widen.

The most standard career path for a veterinarian is to open a veterinary care office, go into practice with another veterinarian or work in an animal hospital. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 79% of veterinarians are employed in the veterinary services industry. These professionals assess, diagnose and treat small animals suffering from illness and injury. This is not the only career option for licensed veterinarians, however.

Important Facts About Veterinarians

Median Salary (2018) $93,830
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 19%
Licensure North American Veterinary Licensing Examination required nationally; some states require an additional exam
Key Skills Communication, problem-solving, sensitivity, decision-making

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Other Career Options

Your career options are actually quite broad and include working in a private practice or as a public employee. Instead of treating companion animals in a private or group practice, you may treat farm animals or horses. You may further specialize in treating animals that are used for food. You may also specialize in treating exotic animals or zoo animals.

Outside of private practice, you may work for the government, a college, university or research facility. In some positions, you may help develop safer standards for animal care, prevent diseases from spreading among animal populations, discover ways to create healthier animal food products or research how a cure for an animal disease may also be used in humans.

Federal Government Jobs

One government agency that hires veterinarians is the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). The CVM is a division of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Another agency that hires veterinarians is the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency organized under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Working for a government agency can provide you with diverse career opportunities. Veterinarians working for the federal government have traveled to space, attended to animals at the National Zoo, worked on food safety regulations and served as directors of government agencies.

At the CVM, you may help develop drugs for animals. This may involve creating drugs to treat problems with minor species, such as hamsters, or for treating rare diseases in major species like horses or chickens. You may also test drugs before they enter the market to ensure they won't harm the animals they are meant to treat or to make sure the drugs won't harm humans if used in animals that will produce food products. At the CVM, you may also work on monitoring animal food to ensure it's safe. Another possible job duty is caring for any animals being used for research or testing at government facilities.

With the FSIS, you can specialize in public health and serve as a veterinarian who helps protect the public from foodborne illnesses. Jobs with the FSIS may involve working in meat and poultry production facilities, overseeing slaughterhouse operations, monitoring food products' transport and distribution among retailers and conducting research. Most of the work at the FSIS is focused on ensuring the animal food products available for sale are safe for human consumption.

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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