For many animal lovers studying veterinary medicine is a very popular and rewarding choice, that many consider the path to their dream job. If you have a strong desire to work with animals, plus the drive and the grades this could be your perfect career.
There are many reasons why becoming a Veterinarian is a great career choice. Here we also give you a guide on how to become a veterinarian and some top recommendations for where to study veterinary medicine.
Top Reasons to Become a Veterinarian:
Help Animals Daily
As a veterinarian, you get to directly help the health and welfare of your animal patients every day. You will have the ability and skills to alleviate animal suffering caused by illness or injury, as well as generally look after their general health and well being.
Variety and Problem Solving
You just never know what you will need to deal with on a daily basis, and you will always be called on to utilize your problem-solving skills to assess and evaluate each case. This often requires a bit more investigation than in human medicine, as the patient cannot just tell you what they are feeling or what the problem is – so you rely on the owner, plus physical examinations and tests.
Then you need to work out the best approach for a particular patient and the treatment plan – and you will probably do it all – from nail cutting to tumor surgery – rather than referring your patient on. Good veterinarians will enjoy this variety and problem-solve in the aid of our furry friends.
Veterinary medicine offers a very good salary, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that the national median earnings for all veterinarians is $88,490. There are some differences between various specializations, but the range of salaries can be around $50,000 – $150,000.
Many Career Options
A degree in veterinary medicine is a great basis for many more animal-related careers than only traditional private practice. You could transition into working with wildlife agencies, feed companies, veterinary pharmaceutical companies, research and academic institutes, laboratories, or the military.
Veterinarians working in corporations tend to earn very high salaries. If you do stay with the private practice, there are opportunities to be your own boss, either in your own practice or by becoming a partner in a practice.
Work with the community and other animal lovers
Vets have an important role in working with the community and can be involved in education and advice programs. They are also often working in environments where they lead a team of like-minded animal lovers, which for many is a very pleasurable part of the overall career experience.
Now that we have given you all the exciting reason to become a Veterinarian, you probably have questions on what you need to do to become a qualified veterinarian, which is actually quite similar to becoming a human MD.
Here is what you will need to do:
Step 1: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program
To obtain a place at one of the schools of veterinary medicine you generally require a bachelor’s degree. An ideal choice for an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. Typically, the Graduate School does not require a specific degree, but you do need to have completed certain pre-requisite courses, which often include: general biology, chemistry, physics, and math.
Some schools also require courses in mammalogy, biochemistry, or animal behavior. You will need to check each veterinary schools for their specific requirements.
Step 2: Gain Some Work Experience
This is something to think about at the same time as completing your bachelor degree. Schools of veterinary medicine like to see applicants who are committed to the field and already have experience and a good understanding of working with animals.
You can also use these experiences to gain professional references which will assist your application. Some examples of the kind of work you can do are:
- Join volunteer programs or internships in the veterinary field, including at veterinary clinics or other animal care facilities, animal shelters, wildlife or livestock organizations.
- Join a pre-veterinary club at your university. These clubs often have meetings where members discuss career topics, and access resources for volunteer or internship experience, or mentorship programs.
Step 3: Take the GRE
Many schools need to see your GRE scores as part of there application assessment. Check each vet school for their target standardized test scores. You should make sure you complete this in the final year of your bachelor degree.
Step 4: Earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
There are 30 Vet schools in the US and the D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) or V.M.D. (Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris) degree programs are 4 years.
Most college students will apply to the vet schools in the senior year to meet deadlines which are generally in September. You will need to apply via the VMCAS online application. It is recommended that you look at all the Veterinary Schools and apply to a least 6-8 schools. Below is a list of some recommended schools.
Following the application period is an interview process, and normally around April is the deadline to accept or decline admission to the schools.
The DVM programs are structured so you build on each year’s knowledge. In the first year or two, the focus is generally on science subjects like animal anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and virology, which form the basic framework for veterinary science.
In the third year the there is a focus on clinical studies where students work with living animals to use the knowledge and skills they’ve gained to make diagnoses and recommend possible treatments. The final year is generally comprised of applied experiences like practicums and externships.
There are also opportunities to get involved in research studies in their schools. This can be excellent to open up opportunities to work in research.
Step 5: Become Licensed
Once you have completed your accredited graduate program of veterinary medicine, you must successfully pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam; to practice. In some states, there are additional state-specific exams too.
You should also join the relevant professional association’s that exist nationally and at the state level. They have many professional benefits for the member, including newsletters, publications, and resources for continuing education.
Top Veterinary Schools
Each of the 30 veterinary schools in the US is good quality schools, but they all have their own strengths which you should match with what you suits you. All of the schools are members of the Association of American Veterinary Colleges.
- Location: Davis, Calif.
- DVM Program Established: 1948
- SAT Range: 1050- 1330; Acceptance 2018: 42%
The University of California, Davis has ranked as number 1 in the world and UC, Davis Veterinary school alumni won six national and international awards in 2017.
- Location: Ithaca, N.Y.
- DVM program established: 1894
- SAT Range: 1330- 1530; Acceptance 2018: 14%
This school has a very hands-on approach, and you will get to work with animals right from the beginning. There are only 120 places each year.
- Location: Fort Collins, Colo.
- DVM program established: 1907
- SAT Range: 1020- 1250; Acceptance 2018: 78%
In your third and fourth year in Colorado, you will get to experience their famous surgical teaching techniques using amazingly real artificial tissues.
- Location: Raleigh, N.C.
- DVM program established: 1981
- SAT Range: 1170 -1350; Acceptance 2018: 48%
Here you can study at the renowned North Carolina State Veterinary Hospital in your fourth year. You also are able to complete an MBA or a Ph.D. concurrently with your doctorate of veterinary medicine.
- Location: Columbus, Ohio
- DVM program established: 1885
- SAT Range: 1160 -1410; Acceptance 2018: 54%
You will be able to work at the Ohio State Veterinary Center, which treats more than 30,000 patients annually.
- Location: Madison, Wis.
- DVM program established: 1983
- SAT Range: 1200 -1420; Acceptance 2018: 53%
This is a relatively new school, but they do have a strong history in animal sciences starting with an Animal Husbandry department in the late 1800s. The school has a dedicated Clinical Skills Training Center (CSTC) which is used across all four years of teaching to enhance the development of basic and advanced clinical skills using demonstration models in a flexible, convenient, and low-stress environment.