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Veterinarian Job Description

Veterinarians diagnose and care for sick and injured animals and provide them with preventative care in the form of yearly exams, vaccinations, and preventative medications. There are many types of veterinarians including equine, livestock, and shelter veterinarians. Veterinarians generally work in animal clinics or hospitals, but some veterinarians, such as those who specialize in working with farm animals, may travel to various locations to treat the animals.
Veterinarians usually work alongside vet techs and other veterinarians. They often work extremely long hours and may also work nights and weekends if there are emergency situations.
Obviously, veterinarians need to have a love for animals, and they should possess compassion towards the human owners of the animals as well. A high tolerance for stress is essential when going into the field of veterinary medicine since the work environment is sometimes loud and hectic. Veterinarians also need leadership skills because they often manage other employees. In addition, those considering a career in veterinary medicine should be aware that there is a possibility of being injured on the job since some animals might bite or scratch when sick or scared.

Veterinarian Duties

On a daily basis, veterinarians veterinarians might perform the following duties:

  • Examine, diagnose and treat animals
  • Perform surgical procedures on animals
  • Prescribe medications

Veterinarians are also known as vets.

How To Become A Veterinarian

In order to become a veterinarian, one should obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology or animal science, complete required prerequisites in biology, chemistry and math, and then get accepted, attend and graduate from one of the 29 doctor of veterinary medicine (DMV) programs in the United States. Graduates must then pass a national exam and many times, a state exam as well.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Veterinarian?

It usually takes about eights years to become a veterinarian. After completing a bachelor’s degree, it will take an additional four years to graduate from a veterinary medicine program.

Education Requirements

Becoming a veterinarian requires many years of education. Prospective veterinarians must obtain a bachelor’s degree, preferably in biology or animal science. In order to apply to a veterinary program, prerequisites such as biology, chemistry, math, and physics must be completed. Many veterinary schools require that applicants take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and submit letters of recommendation. Acceptance into a veterinary program is extremely competitive, and only a small number of applicants are accepted. Therefore, it is important to excel academically at the undergraduate level. Many programs also like to see that a prospective candidate has experience working in some capacity in the veterinary field.
Once accepted to a program, students can expect to spend substantial time in the classroom studying such topics as general pathology, parasitology, and animal health. An important component of a veterinary medicine program involves clinical experience. All students must complete a number of hours actually working in the field of veterinary medicine. During these clinical rotations, students can anticipate spending time working with domestic, farm, exotic and wild animals. There are a number of rotations required in such areas as anesthesiology, emergency medicine, and large and small animal surgery.
After completing all academic and clinical requirements, students will graduate with a doctor of veterinary medicine degree and are eligible to sit for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE).


Veterinarians can obtain certifications in 40 different areas of veterinary medicine. Becoming certified takes years to achieve; veterinarians must gain substantial experience in the area and embark on further schooling. After doing so, they can take a certification exam. Certification is available in such specialities as internal medicine, surgery, and dentistry. Specialized certification can lead to more employment opportunities for veterinarians.


All veterinarians in the United States must be licensed. The process to become licensed involves graduating from an accredited veterinary medicine program and passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. In addition to these requirements, each state has different rules and regulations regarding licensing, and in many states it is necessary that potential veterinarians pass a state exam as well as the national exam. Because each state has different regulations, it is important to check with the state in which you plan to work for specific requirements.

Job Outlook

Jobs in veterinary medicine are expected to increase at an average rate until 2022. There will be about 8400 new jobs for veterinarians until 2022 which is a 12 percent increase.
The increase is due to the growth of veterinary medicine in such areas as cancer treatment, and also because more people are expected to bring their pets in for routine treatment. The field of veterinary medicine is competitive, so specializing in a particular area of veterinary medicine, working with farm animals, or branching off into a related field such as food and animal safety, offers the best prospects for employment. Detailed Veterinarian salary data is available here.

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