What Are the Education Requirements to Be a Veterinarian?

To become a veterinarian, you need to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and obtain a professional license in your state. Keep reading to learn more about veterinarian education requirements and how to become a veterinarian. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Veterinarian Requirements

Veterinarians are required to complete several years of study and training. You'll need to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and obtain a license. Many DVM graduates also choose to continue their training through internships and residency programs. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a veterinarian and the educational components of this field.

Veterinarian Education

Undergraduate Degree

Earning a bachelor's degree can improve your chances of gaining admittance to veterinary college; however, some veterinary schools admit applicants who have a certain number of undergraduate credits, rather than a bachelor's degree. Commonly required courses include animal biology, microbiology, animal nutrition, zoology, and systemic physiology. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges provides a useful table that allows students to check the requirements for individual colleges (www.aavmc.org).

Veterinary College Admission

Entrance into veterinary college is highly competitive. It is necessary to begin preparing and building your resume during your undergraduate years, or even as early as high school. You should maintain a high GPA, particularly in your science courses. You should also seek out experience working with veterinarians or scientists in lab-related settings. Some vet schools require a certain number of hours volunteering or working under the supervision of a veterinarian before you can even apply. Other experience working with animals (such as a shelter, rescue group, 4-H, or FFA) can add to your resume. You will need several letters of recommendation, so it can be helpful to foster positive relationships with professors, veterinarians, and other adults who can attest to your skills and dedication. Additionally, depending on the vet school to which you apply, you must gain an acceptable score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Veterinarian Degree

Earning your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree typically takes four years of study after undergraduate school. In the first years of vet school most of your coursework will be divided between classroom lectures and laboratory sessions. You can expect to take courses like infectious diseases, immunology, pharmacology, and parasitology. You'll learn about different animal species and body systems, and gain hands-on lab experience working with animals. In your final year, you'll spend most of your time completing clinical rotations in various specialties of veterinary medicine.

Licensing and Postgraduate Training

After earning a DVM degree, you'll need to obtain a license by passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Other licensing requirements are determined by individual states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), many graduates also choose to complete a one-year internship after earning their license to gain experience in the field. If you're interested in practicing in a specialty of veterinarian medicine, you may consider completing a 3-year or 4-year residency program to become board-certified in that particular area.

Important Facts About a Veterinarian Career

Possible Careers Livestock veterinarian, equine veterinarian, marine veterinarian, small animal veterinarian
Median Salary (2018)$93,830 (Veterinarians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026)19% (Veterinarians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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