Veterinary Pathologist Education and Career Facts

A veterinary pathologist studies disease in all types of animals. Find out about the education and training you'll need to pursue this profession, learn about certification requirements, and see what the job growth and salary expectations are for this field. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

As a veterinary pathologist, you can specialize in studying disease in pets, wild animals, captive zoo animals and livestock. Training for this career involves first completing a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine and then completing postgraduate training to specialize in pathology. After completing this training, you may seek certification to work in this field.

Degrees Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Certification Offered by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists
Job Growth (2016-2026) 19% (All veterinarians)

Source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Veterinary Pathologist Do?

Veterinary pathologists can play an important role in animal conservation and protection from epidemics, such as AIDS, SARS, cancer and chronic wasting disease. You may develop diagnostic expertise in small and large animals, utilizing advanced methods of treatment and diagnostic equipment. Veterinary pathologists play an important role in veterinary medicine, not only for the health and safety of pets, but also for consumer protection from epidemic diseases spread through livestock or game.

What Level of Education Do I Need?

To practice general veterinary medicine, you must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program and successfully complete the North American Veterinary Licensure Exam. A postgraduate residency can then provide you with specialized training in pathology. Courses in a veterinary pathology program may include courses such as the following:

  • Advanced immunology
  • Molecular biology
  • Microbiology and parasitology
  • Necropsy and biopsy
  • Hematology
  • Diagnosing pathological systems

Clinical practice may also be stressed, as you may be responsible for individual cases with limited supervision, and you may be required to teach classes for beginning veterinary students.

What Type of Certification Will I Need?

Following the completion of a residency program, you can obtain professional certification through the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP). ACVP certification exams consist of multiple-choice questions covering anatomic and clinical pathology practices.

What Are My Career and Income Prospects?

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, careers in veterinary medicine will grow 19% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the national average ( BLS data cites increased pet ownership and advances in veterinary medical procedures as two causes for the projected increase. The American Veterinary Medicine Association studies showed that, in 2017, there were 1,077 certified veterinary pathologists.

There is evidence that careers in specialized fields of veterinary medicine can lead to an increase in income. The BLS reported a median salary for veterinarians of $90,420 in 2017, but those in the top 10% earned more than $159,320.

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