Veterinarians are responsible for providing healthcare to animals, particularly livestock, Zoo animals, and Pets. Along with providing hands-on care, veterinarians may also work in a research capacity.

Veterinarians both prevent and treat illnesses. They may specialise later on in their careers to focus on specific areas.

Many people like the thoughts of working with animals on a daily basis, but it is a difficult job. There are many years of education involved and difficult situations to deal with on the job.

In the same breath, it is also incredibly rewarding. Being able to save an animal and protect its well-being are some of the main reasons Vet’s love their jobs.

Career Profile: Veterinarian

Education and Training

Becoming a Veterinarian usually requires four years of undergraduate school, four years of veterinary school and state licensure. Those that wish to specialise will need further study and certification.

It’s a demanding course of study and that’s because it’s in the medical field. You are in effect a doctor to animals and there is a lot of responsibility with the role. For people considering this career solely because they want to work with animals, there may be better options.

This career is ideally suited for people who have medical ambitions and a love of animals. You must be prepared for the continuous study and staying up to date with all the latest treatment methods.

Consider taking the following free course: ‘Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Veterinarian? – Univesity of Edinburgh.’ This course has been developed for anyone who’s thinking about a career in veterinary medicine. It will give you an idea of what it’s like to study veterinary medicine and what the career is like.

Undergraduate degrees should focus on the biological and physical sciences; like chemistry, genetics, microbiology, and physiology. These disciplines are recommended as gaining admittance into a veterinary school can be quite difficult. There are only 30 veterinary schools in the US and roughly half of people who apply each year are admitted.

After four years of study here, you will have gained your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) The final two years of your study will allow you to gain hands-on experience with your last year almost solely taking place in an animal clinic or hospital.

To practice as a veterinarian, you will need to be licensed. This requires you to have a D.V.M. and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Most states require you to pass an examination covering veterinary laws and regulations as well.

Finally, if you wish to become specialised, you must achieve certification through the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (AVMA).There are 40 types of specialisations including internal medicine, surgery, dentistry, and pathology.

Specialisation will require of specialty training in an approved residency program in order to become certified.



Your duties will depend on the type of animals you are working with and whether you’re working in a private clinic or visiting livestock. However, common duties include:

  • Diagnosing an animals health problems
  • Treating an animal’s medical condition
  • Treating and dressing wounds
  • Surgery (Specialisation)
  • Testing and vaccinating against disease
  • Performing X-Rays
  • Advise owners on appropriate care
  • Prescribing medication
  • Euthanizing animals

Career Paths

There are many career paths available to a veterinarian. Some require you to specialise in before you will be able to practice. Here are a few areas in which a veterinarian might work:

Companion Animal Veterinarians

This type of Vet treats pets in private clinics and hospitals. According to the AMVA, more than 75 percent of veterinarians working in a private clinic treat pets. They will more than likely treat cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, rabbits etc.

Equine veterinarians work with horses. In 2012, about 6 percent of private practice veterinarians diagnosed and treated horses.

Livestock Veterinarians

These vets work with animals that are bred for human consumption, such as cows, pigs, and sheep. They work on farms to treat illness and test for any presence of diseases. About 8 percent of private practice veterinarians work as livestock veterinarians.

Research veterinarians

These veterinarians work in laboratories carrying out research on both human and animal health problems. Among other things they work to prevent, control, and eliminate food and animal-borne illnesses and diseases.

The BLS predicted that veterinarian jobs would increase by 9% from 2014 to 2024 meaning there’s plenty of need for veterinarians.



North American Veterinary Licensing Exam

American Board of Veterinary Specialties


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