How to Become a Veterinarian

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 A Veterinarian is a physician in the animal kingdom, working with all types of creatures from companion animals, zoo animals, farm and food source animals, local and wildlife, etc. Their skills are varied, and they are vital to keeping animals and humans healthy.

Modern Veterinarians are the only doctors educated to protect the health of both animals and people. Veterinarians also play critical roles in environmental protection, research, food safety, and public health. They work hard to address the health and welfare needs of every species of animal.

Veterinarians use their skills to evaluate patients, make diagnoses, perform surgery, and treat a wide range of conditions specific to animals in general or a particular species.

Around an estimated 80% of Veterinarians work in clinics and hospitals. Although the figure reflects Vets’ demand in clinical facilities, Vets can work in various positions and situations from brick-and-mortar clinics to zoos, telemedical platforms, aquariums, processing facilities, etc.

Employment opportunities for veterinarians include such diverse areas as clinical practice, teaching and research, regulatory medicine, public health, wildlife conservation, and uniformed services.

Responsibilities of a Veterinarian

  1. Examine animals to detect and determine the nature of diseases or injuries.
  2. Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds, or performing surgery.
  3. Vaccinate animals against various diseases.
  4. Collect samples like body tissue, blood, urine for examination, and analysis.
  5. Operate diagnostic equipment such as radiographic and ultrasound equipment.
  6. Advise animal owners regarding animal care and nutrition.
  7. Educate the public about diseases that can be spread from animals to humans.
  8. Train and supervise workers who handle and care for animals.
  9. Euthanize animals.
  10. Establish and conduct quarantine and testing procedures that prevent diseases from other animals or humans.
  11. Neuter and spay animals.

Veterinarian holding dogs

 Skills required as a Veterinarian

  1. Compassion – It is important to remember that most people view companion animals as more than just pets. Some view them as members of the family. As a Veterinarian, you must be conscious of this bond between owner and animal when explaining the owners’ situations. Compassion can help ease both animal and owner during surgery, euthanasia, and other treatment.
  2. Communication – As a Veterinarian, you will be dealing with different professionals and clients. You must have strong written and oral communication skills to communicate situations and needs to all parties effectively. That means speaking esoterically when dealing with other healthcare professionals and communicating plainly with dealing with non-specialists.
  3. Leadership and Management – As a Veterinarian, you will not only be in charge of a patient’s care, you will also be in charge of seeing that the care is administered correctly and instructions are followed. You may be in charge of employees, businesses, or departments, and this requires at least a basic understanding of managerial procedures and a strong knack for leadership.
  4. Manual dexterity – Veterinarians need to have fine-tuned motor skills. As you will be working with and performing operations on small and delicate animals, you need acute reflexes to work efficiently.
  5. Critical Thinking – This will help you as a Veterinarian properly assess a situation and devise an appropriate course of treatment. Not all diagnoses and treatments are straightforward, so you must approach problems with an analytical mind.

Educational Requirements for a Veterinarian Career

To become a veterinarian, you will need to obtain a degree in Veterinary Medicine. You will need a solid foundation in biology, physics, chemistry, and agriculture.

If you think a career as a Veterinarian is the right path for you, the next step is finding the right institution. Below are some great institutions that can help you on your journey to becoming a successful veterinarian;

  1. Colorado State University, United States of America – Colorado State University’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program was founded in 1907 and is ranked 3rd among veterinary schools in the united states by U.S News and World Report. Its mission is to improve the health of animals, people, and the planet through innovative and dedicated teaching, research, outreach, and clinical service. The university’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program is a four-year professional veterinary medical program that leads to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. The cost of tuition for international students is $83,464.
  2. Washington State University, United States of America – Established in 1899, Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the oldest veterinary colleges in the United States. Students work side-by-side with accomplished researchers in highly ranked scientific investigation programs, clinical specialties, and diagnostic capabilities. Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the nation’s top veterinary and biomedical colleges. Students who complete the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program leave with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Tuition for international students will cost $51,155.
  3. Tufts University, United States of America – The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program is aimed at preparing graduates for entry-level practice in any of the major domestic species, provide exposure to the innovative Cummings School Signature Opportunities, and provide enough flexibility and access to resources to allow our students to pursue non-practice or non-traditional practice careers (such as public health, wildlife, international veterinary medicine, and biomedical research). The curriculum is designed to nurture students who will become leaders in developing the science, technology, and ethics that will shape the veterinary profession and foster students to become lifelong learners. Tuition for international students costs $60,00

Career Specializations  in Veterinary Medicine

  1. Veterinary Practitioner – If you want a more streamlined path in Veterinary medicine, becoming a Veterinary Practitioner gives you the option to pursue one of 41 different specializations. You can choose to focus on Avian practice, Equine practice, Dairy practice, Reptile, and Amphibian practice, etc., depending on your interests.
  2. Veterinary Technician – Veterinary Technicians are licensed professionals who work with Veterinarians to diagnose and treat animals. As a Veterinarian Technician, your will duties will involve collecting samples for testing, prepping animals for examination and surgery, administering vaccines, and other medication.
  3. Research Veterinarian – As a Research Veterinarian, you will study samples and infected animals to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat animal and human health problems.
  4. Veterinary pathologist – As a Veterinary Pathologist, your job will be to investigate to uncover the cause of death or illness in animals. Your investigations can involve companion animals, farm animals, local wildlife, etc. These pathological investigations will aid veterinarians and owners take the proper therapeutic or preventive measures.
  5. Food safety and inspection Veterinarian – As a Food Safety and Inspection Veterinarian, you will be working for government agencies and in quality control divisions to inspect and test livestock and animal products for major animal diseases, provide vaccines to treat animals, provide guidance to enhance animal welfare, and enforce government policies. You will be involved in the design and implementation of public health programs to prevent and control diseases transmitted between animals and from animals to humans.
  6. Food Animal Veterinarian – As a Food Animal Veterinarian, you will be working with farm animals raised to be food sources (such as cattle, pigs, chickens, and sheep), ensuring their health and maintaining nutrition.  You will be spending much of their time on farms and ranches to test for, treat, and vaccinate against diseases. You will also consult and advise farmers on animal-related issues such as housing, feeding, and general health and provide regular feedback via performance management reports.

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Job Outlook for Veterinarians

The career landscape for veterinarians is expected to change during the coming years. As the rise in companion pets continues to grow, the demand for veterinarians versed in their care will keep growing. In contrast, the need for farm veterinarians is expected to take a slight shift downwards. According to the U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics, the projected percent change in demand for veterinarians from 2019 to 2029 is estimated at 16%.

Typical Employers of a Veterinarian

  • Private Clinics
  • Animal Hospitals
  • Research Facilities
  • Farmers
  • Government Agencies
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Social Advocacy Organizations
  • Animal processing facilities
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Laboratories

Salary Estimates for Veterinarians

  • Veterinarians make an average of $90,000 a year, according to
  • According to, Veterinary Practitioners make an average of $73,000 a year.
  • estimates that Food Animal Veterinarians make an annual median salary of $88,000.
  • com puts the average yearly salary of a Veterinarian Technician at $32,000.
  • com estimates the average yearly salary for a Veterinarian Pathologist to be $125,000.
  • averages the annual pay for a Food and Safety Veterinarian to be around $80,000
  • According to, Research Veterinarians make an average of $122,000 a year.

Postgraduate Options for Veterinarians

  1. Veterinary Physiotherapy MSc/PGDip, Nottingham University – Veterinary physiotherapy plays a vital role in helping animals recover or adapt from injury or surgery. Working with vets, owners, and businesses, you will ensure animals have the best quality of life after they recover. You will learn all the theory and practical elements that you require to become a veterinary physiotherapist on this course. The course is taught through lectures and clinical sessions. The program is part-time and is to be completed in thirty-six months.
  2. MSc in Veterinary Science: Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Washington State University – This MS program in Immunology and Infectious Diseases provides education and training in immunology and host-pathogen interactions of bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections of animals and humans. The academic research environment is enriched by integrating the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, the School of Molecular Biosciences, and the USDA-ARS Animal Disease Research Unit. The program provides advanced training in infectious diseases and immunology with contemporary approaches to investigate transmission and pathogenesis, intending to improve animal and human health worldwide. Innovative faculty, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and a highly collaborative environment foster successful research training and career development opportunities.
  3. Master in Veterinary Public Health, Utah State University – This discipline recognizes people’s health is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The veterinary public health degree builds on the expertise of USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine by offering specialized training in the emerging public health discipline. You will learn to work with veterinarians, ecologists, and physicians to monitor and control public health threats. The two years program is 100% online and costs around $25,000 for international students.

Careers Related to Veterinary Medicine

  1. Animal Nutritionist – An Animal Nutritionist specializes in animals’ dietary needs in captivity, such as pets, farm animals, and zoo animals. As an animal Nutritionist, your role will be to promote a better understanding of diet’s effect on the health, well-being, and productivity of animals. Animal Nutritionists are most active in agriculture, where they provide advice and information on animal nutrition and design and evaluate the diets of the animals in question. You may also be involved in the production of food for zoo and companion animals and may advise on issues related to feeding them. Some animal nutritionists choose to specialize in one type of animal.
  2. Food Scientist – Food scientists study the microbiological, physical, and chemical properties of food and ingredients to ensure they are safe for consumers. They determine nutrient levels of food by analyzing its content. As a Food Scientist, you will look for new nutritional food sources and investigate avenues for making processed foods taste good, safe, and healthy. You will also research to find the best way to distribute, process, preserve, and package food.
  3. Nurse – If you want to pursue a career in the health sector but are not interested in working with animals, you might consider a nursing career. A Nurse is a highly-skilled healthcare professional responsible for the direct care a patient receives. Their roles are varied and intersect multiple areas of healthcare. They are often the first personnel who attends to a patient and are vital for maintaining a well-rounded, holistic treatment, and management regimen. Nurses are present in virtually every division and subdivision of the healthcare sector. As a result, you can consider a wide range of specializations as you prepare for a career in Nursing.





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