How to Start Your Career as a Veterinarian

Posted September 11, 2014 by
Doctor examining a dog at the vet

Doctor examining a dog at the vet. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you love animals and like to take care of them as a professional, then you have a bright future as a veterinary doctor.  Becoming a vet doctor is not very easy though. This challenging career requires several years of schooling and experience to earn success. If you are studying in a high school and dream to be a vet doctor in future, then read on to know what you need to do to be an expert veterinarian.

What are the job duties of a veterinarian?

Pet owners call you when their pets get injured or sick, or if a routine check-up is required. Depending upon the condition of the patient, you may ask the caller to bring the pet or visit his/her home. You will determine the cause of illness or the seriousness of the injury and prescribe medicines, if necessary. You may need to do stitching and perform surgery in case of a serious injury. Some of your other duties are giving vaccines, spaying pets, euthanizing terminally ill animals and advising the pet owners about the overall health care of the pet.

One of the most loved pets in America is the chinchilla and as a vet doctor you may need to treat various health issues that this animal faces. For example, chinchillas’ teeth grow continuously as long as they live and thus, they often get affected by malocclusion, a dental disease. If someone comes to you with a malocclusion affected chinchilla, you need to apply anesthesia and trim the overgrown teeth.

Education requirements

In order to practice as a veterinarian, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree is a must. Select a veterinary college which is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. A Bachelor’s degree is necessary to take admission in some schools, but even those who don’t ask for Bachelor’s degree will look into your educational details to make sure that you had coursework in areas such as anatomy, biology, physiology, chemistry, zoology or microbiology. The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree course lasts for four years and you get to learn subjects like veterinary immunology, microbiology, animal anatomy, parasitology, diagnostic imaging and surgery. During the third and fourth year of the course, you will concentrate on clinical studies. The last two years are most vital as you get the opportunity to work directly with the animals. You also get the opportunity to take part in research projects.


You must earn the license to start your career as a vet doctor. The licensing process varies in different states of the USA, but one thing is common. You have to pass a national exam administered by NBVME or National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Try to score as high as possible because NBVME will send your marks to the state licensing board. According to BLS, you can start practicing after getting the license or you may complete additional one year internship. Doing the internship is a wise decision, because it helps you earn more at a later stage of your career.

Job prospect and salary

According to BLS, veterinary jobs are expected to grow 12% in the coming 8-10 years. The annual income of vet doctors is pretty good and will grow in future. As of now, the average annual income of a vet doctor is approximately $93,250.

The life of a vet doctor is very interesting. Every day, you handle various types of animals and the joy you get by curing the sick pets is simply inexpressible in words. Start searching for a good college today to earn money and fame as a vet doctor.

Author bio: Robert Gonzales is a vet doctor and an expert on chinchilla. You can read some of his other articles by visiting our blog.

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