What you need to know
Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to improve public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.
Most veterinarians work in private clinics and hospitals. Others travel to farms or work in laboratories or classrooms.
Some of the things a veterinarian might do:
- Examine animals to diagnose their health problems
- Treat and dress wounds
- Perform surgery on animals
- Test for and vaccinate against diseases
- Operate medical equipment, such as x-ray machines
- Advise animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments
- Prescribe medication
- Euthanize animals
- Compassion: Veterinarians must be compassionate when working with animals and their owners. They must treat animals with kindness and respect, and must be sensitive when dealing with the animal owners.
- Communication skills: Strong communication skills are essential for veterinarians, who must be able to discuss their recommendations and explain treatment options to animal owners and give instructions to their staff.
- Decision-making skills: Veterinarians must decide the correct method for treating the injuries and illnesses of animals.
- Manual dexterity: Manual dexterity is important for veterinarians, because they must control their hand movements and be precise when treating injuries and performing surgery.
- Problem-solving skills: Veterinarians need strong problem-solving skills because they must figure out what is ailing animals. Those who test animals to determine the effects of drug therapies also need excellent diagnostic skills.
The average pay for veterinarians in the United States ranges from $58,080 to $160,780 as of May 2019.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Increases in consumers’ pet-related expenditures are expected to drive employment in the veterinary services industry, which employs most veterinarians.
Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. There are currently 30 colleges with accredited programs in the United States. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.
Most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, zoology, microbiology, and animal science.
Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Veterinary Science.