Careers in Health Care : Veterinarian - A Good Career Choice for Animal Lovers
Overview: A Career as a Veterinarian
People who love animals of any kind may find being a Veterinarian is an extremely rewarding career choice. Veterinarians are animal doctors, caring for the health of domestic pets (generally small animal veterinarians), as well as livestock and farm animals (generally large animal vets). Some veterinarians treat animals in zoos and laboratories, and others work at racetracks. Research veterinary science specializes in the prevention of human and animal disease, both in a clinical and a laboratory setting.
About 75% of veterinarians are in private practice, treating pets and livestock for animal health problems, diagnosing diseases, vaccinating for rabies and distemper, prescribe antibiotics for infections and illness, treat broken bones, perform surgery, and provide information and training to animal owners regarding the health of their pets.
Some pet hospitals specialize in cats, with feline veterinary medical specialists treating Feline Aids (FIV), Leukemia Virus (FeLV), hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and obesity. Large animal vets usually have mobile practices offering on-site treatment for cattle, horses and other large animals. Veterinarians specializing in alternative veterinary medicine believe in a homeopathic, holistic approach which includes including nutrition, environment and love. Veterinary laboratories may offer routine electrolyte analysis as well as advanced hormone or serological quantitation, DNA and PCR testing.
Many websites of veterinarians and animal hospitals now include resources, vaccination schedules and spay and neuter information. Some veterinary clinics are also kennels providing pet boarding, bathing and trimming, under veterinary supervision.
Kennels, Animal Boarding and Pet Services Directory
Some veterinary clinics offer advanced diagnostic procedures, therapy, surgical procedures and hospitalization. Larger veterinary care centers may have multiple vet specialists, offering many different diagnostic and therapeutic options including color flow Doppler echocardiography, ultrasound, fluoroscopy, endoscopy, blood pressure analysis, electrocardiography, radiography and oxygen therapy.
There are about 65,000 veterinarians practicing in the U.S., and the projections for future job opportunities are excellent. Earnings range from about $45,000 up to $140,000 per year. Private practice vets are limited in earning power only by the size and location of their practice. The federal government employs about 1,400 veterinarians who earn about $85,000 per year.
Veterinary Tech Jobs
The primary divisions within the practice of veterinary medicine are between small animals (pets or companion animals) and large animals. Small animal veterinarians may work in cities and suburban areas where population is high and many pet owners are located. Their jobs tend to be indoors and on a fixed schedule, although emergencies occur at all hours and some vets are on-call 24 hours per day. Large animal vets often work outdoors and in all kinds of weather, responding to animals' needs as they occur.
Other veterinarians work in food and animal inspection, such as livestock inspectors who work for government agencies such as the USDA, and who inspect cattle on farms and in feedlots, as well as testing and inspecting meat processing plants. Increasing numbers of veterinarians are employed along the national borders and points of entry, where they inspect imports and exports to prevent the international spread of disease to and from the U.S.
Veterinarians must hold a DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine) degree, and they must hold a valid state license. The American Veterinary Medical Association accredits the veterinary medicine program in 28 colleges and universities. There is a great deal of competition to enter veterinary school. The prerequisites to these veterinary programs vary a lot, and while some schools do require a bachelor's degree for entrance, others may specify 45 to 90 semester hours of undergraduate work. Undergraduate pre-veterinary courses should be strong in sciences such as chemistry, physics, biochem and biology. In addition there are a variety of pre-veterinary exams such as GRE, VCAT and MCAT. Some schools place strong emphasis on animal experience, such as previous employment as a veterinary tech, volunteer work at an animal shelter, or work with farm animals.
Schools with Veterinary Medicine Programs and Majors
All states have licensing standards, and while they vary from state to state, all states do require a D.V.M. degree and passing North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Most states also have continuing education requirements.
State Veterinary Medical Boards
American Veterinary Medical Association
State Veterinary License Lookup
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
State Veterinary Associations