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Veterinarian Job Description

Duties and Essential Information about Becoming a Veterinarian written by: Topcontentcreator The field of veterinary medicine is currently an excellent choice for anyone with a passion for science and enjoys working with animals. The veterinary industry in the United States is an expanding and vibrant sector, providing many lucrative opportunities in both the public service and private industry. It can also be very suitable for those individuals looking to combine a professional career with part-time farming.


Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinarian


– The occupation is well paying with great job satisfaction
– There is a wide variety of job options to choose from
– Vets enjoy flexibility to work in a diverse set of environments
– It also offers many career advancement opportunities
– It provides an opportunity to interact with animals and their owners, and make a difference in their lives
– The rate of employment growth in this field is higher than the average for all occupations
– The job is never boring

– The length of the training can be quite long (4 years of undergraduate school and four years of veterinary school)
– Reduced risk of being sued (unlike medical doctors)
– Some tasks can be physically and mentally demanding

Veterinarian Job Description

Veterinarians are professionals who have been trained in animal medicine, surgery and behavior. These animal health specialists specialize in care for pets, livestock, exotic animals, laboratory animals and competition animals. They work in a variety of settings such as veterinary clinics, farms, zoos, federal inspection agencies, research facilities and laboratories. When animals are sick, vets diagnose illnesses and injuries and prescribe appropriate treatments and cures. They are also tasked with performing surgeries, including procedures such as neutering, spaying, and more. Along with providing care to animals, veterinarians are involved in promoting the health and welfare of animals, particularly those that need a healthy environment in which to thrive, whether that environment is grassland, a desert or even a rain forest. In addition, vets may gain employment in a wide variety of areas that require their expertise, including: advisory and research, animal feed industry, second-level and agricultural education, farming and enterprise management, agricultural marketing, procurement, processing and marketing of animal products.

Veterinarian Duties

– Diagnosing and controlling animal diseases
– Treating sick and injured animals
– Prescribing medications
– Giving vaccinations
– Performing surgical procedures
– Providing health care recommendations to owners
– Preventing transmission of diseases between animals and people
– Ensuring a safe food supply
– Conducting research in different areas related to this field

How to Become a Veterinarian

The first step in becoming a qualified veterinarian involves attending a training program at an accredited undergraduate school. There are about 30 vet schools that have been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). To gain admission into any of these schools, students need to hold a degree in a science-related field. A number of schools offer pre-veterinarian or veterinarian science programs, allowing individuals to transition smoothly into this field. Some Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree programs may admit students without an undergraduate degree, but this is very rare. After attending vet school and earning a DVM degree, aspiring vets must also pass the national licensing exam in order to be allowed to begin practicing and then complete a residency program to become board-certified.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Veterinarian?

An undergraduate degree in a science- or biology-related area or pre-veterinary course (which is required prior to admission into a DVM program) can take anywhere between 3-4 years to complete. The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is a 4-year program.

Education Requirements

Becoming a vet generally requires four years of undergraduate school, four years of vet school and state licensure. The Bachelor of Science is probably the shortest pathway to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree offered at various accredited institutions. But aspiring vets can also pursue any of the undergraduate majors and degrees that focus heavily on the biological and physical sciences, such as physiology, microbiology, genetics and chemistry. After completing undergraduate studies, students can apply for admission to any of the accredited veterinarian schools in the country. Specific admissions requirements vary by veterinarian school, but all applicants must take a college admissions test, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Most veterinarian schools require prospective students to use an online application service to apply to school. After gaining admittance, students spend the next four years training to become licensed veterinarians. The first two years of training usually focuses on basic science education in the classroom and laboratory, while the final two years includes clinical instruction and clinical rotations in animal hospitals and private practices. Graduates of a DVM program are eligible to sit for the national exam that leads to licensure or board certification.


All 50 states require veterinarians to be licensed in order to practice within their jurisdiction. So after earning a DVM, aspiring veterinarians need to pursue licensure. All states require graduates of DVM programs to take and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) in order to get a license. This exam consists of a 360-question test, which lasts 7.5 hours and is designed to assess candidates’ knowledge of veterinary medical activities and animal species. Some states’ veterinary medical boards also have additional requirements, such as passing a veterinary law exam or a clinical skills evaluation.


Veterinarians may practice after earning their DVM, but they need to be certified by their state’s veterinary medical board. This particularly applies to board certified specialists or veterinarians who choose to concentrate in a specialty of veterinary medicine. To become board certified, veterinarians who have completed specialty training must undergo pa residency program – which can last 3-4 years. During residency, veterinary specialists spend a significant time in hospitals where they may consult on patient’s cases and carry out research. Residents may also be tasked with instructing medical and pre-professional students. Successful completion of the residency program leads to certification.

Veterinarian Job Outlook

Aspiring veterinarians can expect to find job growth rate that is on par with the national average for all occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that job opportunities for vets would grow 12% during the period 2012-2022. This is about as fast as the average for all professions. With respect to demand for animal medicine for pets, the outlook is positive. There are going to be small increases in the total number of household pets, ensuring that the demand for animal health professionals remains modest. The population consisting of baby boomers as well as new technologies and medical advancements are also expected to drive demand for pet health care. There’s no denying that baby boomers who are now sliding into retirement and requiring pets for companionship are more inclined to seek veterinary services. This is because as people age, the non-necessity income generally increases. The availability of advanced care services of which many pet owners are aware of have meant that people are increasingly taking advantage of these nontraditional veterinary services to enhance and maintain the health of their pets. Because of this, vets can expect to continue enjoying decent job prospects, especially those working in the petcare industry.

Interesting Statistic

Employed people, by detailed occupation and gender
Percent Women 54.7%

(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinarians.htm
(2) Women in Labor Force: http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/cps/women-in-the-labor-force-a-databook-2014.pdf

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