Veterinarian Job Overview
Veterinarian jobs involve caring for animals' health and making efforts to better public health. This career has a number of potential specialties, including companion animal, equine, food safety and inspection, research and food animal vets. The duties of veterinarian jobs typically include:
- Examining pets, livestock, horses and other animals for diseases and injuries
- Treating and diagnosing animal illnesses and injuries
- Testing for and vaccinating against diseases
- Running medical machinery, such as X-ray machines
- Prescribing animal medications
- Performing veterinary surgery
- Instructing pet owners on how to care for animals and manage their conditions
Veterinarians usually work in private practices and animal hospitals, but they may also work in academia, laboratories or for government agencies. Approximately 18 percent of vets are self-employed according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Related careers include veterinary technician jobs and veterinary assistant jobs.
Veterinarian Job Education Requirements
Veterinarians must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from an accredited veterinary college and obtain a license in the state in which they intend to practice. While a bachelor's degree is not required by veterinary colleges, most applicants have one. Veterinary medicine programs usually take four years to finish and involve classroom, clinical and lab training.
Specific licensing requirements vary by state, but all 50 states require veterinarians to have a DVM from an accredited program and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Many states also require vets to pass a state licensing exam that tests knowledge of state laws and regulations.
Veterinarian Job Market
According to the BLS, there were 59,230 veterinarian jobs in the U.S. in 2013. By 2022, that number will grow by 8,400, or 12 percent, which is about as fast as the national average. On the one hand, the increasing pet population and sophistication of veterinary technology will drive growth in the sector. Veterinary medicine has made significant strides recently and is rapidly becoming more comparably to human medicine. On the other hand, the veterinary services industry as a whole is experiencing slowing growth, which will make demand for vets lower than in the past.
Veterinarian Job Salary Information
The BLS reported an average salary of $96,140 for veterinary doctors in 2013. Vets in the 90th percentile for earnings made $149,530, while vets in the 10th percentile made $53,270. Vets who work in the scientific research and development services industry had the highest average salary, making $134,230, while those who work in colleges, universities and professional schools had the lowest average salary, making $77,980.