What Are My Career Options with a Pre-Med Degree?

A pre-med program can give you the biology, chemistry and laboratory experience to explore many different career possibilities in the medical, veterinary and dental fields. Read on to learn more about potential career options. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Options for a Pre-Med Degree

Listed below are the possible options for applying your pre-med degree. You could potentially enter the field as a physician, veterinarian or dentist.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Physician Veterinarian Dentist
Median Salary (2014) $180,180 (for family and general practitioners) $87,590 (for veterinarians) $149,540 (for general dentists)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 18% (for physicians and surgeons) 12% 16%
Work Environment Hospital, health clinic, private practice Office, ranch or farm Private dental practice
Similar Occupations Chiropractors, podiatrists Agricultural and food scientists, medical scientists, zoologists and wildlife biologists Optometrists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physician

Completing a pre-med bachelor's degree program is a good first step if you wish to pursue a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), since the program is designed to prepare you for the rigors of medical training. To become a doctor, you'll then need to attend four years of medical school and complete up to eight years of medical residency in your specialty. For the first two years of medical school, you'll take classes in anatomy, genetics, foundations of medicine and microbiology. During your last two years, you'll participate in rotations, also called clerkships, which are designed to give you hands-on exposure to different medical specialties.

Once you complete medical school, you may work as a general care physician, or you may specialize in a certain type of medicine like anesthesiology, radiology or psychiatry. You may also be called upon to write prescriptions or even perform surgery.

Physicians' offices paid family and general practitioners an average wage of $193,970, while general hospitals offered a lower average wage of $176,720. PayScale.com reported that physicians and doctors with less than a year of experience made a median wage of $178,928 in November 2015.

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners have a projected job growth rate of 20%, from 2012-2022.

Veterinarian

In order to work as a veterinarian, you'll need to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). A pre-med bachelor's degree program can help you fulfill all of the science and math prerequisites that a veterinary program requires. During a veterinary graduate program, you'll take classes like animal surgery, immunology, pathology and veterinary anatomy. The final portion of the program will be devoted to clinical rotations, which will give you exposure to different specialties, such as avian, primate and equine medicine.

As a veterinarian, you'll work to diagnose and treat animal illnesses and injuries. The BLS reported that your responsibilities may range from prescribing medicine for animals to euthanizing sick or suffering pets. You might choose to care for a particular type of animal, such as exotic animals, birds or reptiles.

Average wages varied by industry, with those working in the management of companies and enterprises earning the highest average wage of $139,230. The scientific research and development services industry paid veterinarians $124,890, on average. In September 2015, PayScale.com listed a median salary of $68,502 for entry-level veterinarians.

Dentist

With a pre-med degree and graduate training, you can work as a dentist. You'll need to earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) after you finish your pre-med degree, according to the BLS. For your first 2-3 years of school, you'll study head anatomy, neuroscience, oral diseases and dental radiology. The last half of the program will give you clinical practice in various specialties like prosthodontics, oral pathology and pediatric dentistry.

Once you become a dentist, you'll diagnose and treat tooth-related illnesses in children and adults. You'll also work to prevent these illnesses by providing regular check-ups, taking X-rays, performing basic dental surgical procedures and advising your patients on dental care hygiene, such as brushing and flossing. You may choose to specialize in a certain type of dentistry.

According to the BLS, as of May 2014, dental specialists earned an average wage of $170,110. In the same field, those working out of the office of dentists earned $186,670, on average. PayScale.com reported that entry-level dentists earned a median wage of $114,943 in September 2015.

There will be new positions as a result of projected job growth and as a result of current dentists retiring. The BLS expects strong growth for general dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons and prosthodontists, while all other dental specialists will experience much slower growth.

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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