Veterinarian Career

veterinarian-500Veterinarians provide medical care to and look after the well-being of animals. They work in veterinary clinics across the country, handle emergencies when they come up and speak with owners about proper animal care. They usually specialize in small animals (dogs, cats and other household pets) or large animals (livestock, horses, etc.). There are also exotic vets that work for zoos and other conservation organizations in dealing with exotic species.

Some veterinarians work in food safety and inspection or in formulating animal nutrition. The job can be physically and emotionally demanding and all vets run the risk of being scratched, bitten or catching communicable diseases from animals.

Veterinarian Career Snapshot

Veterinarians may work for an established veterinary practice or start their own; roughly one in six veterinarians are self-employed. They also might work for organizations, such as zoos, governmental bodies and animal production companies. Typically, vets work regular working hours, but overtime and night hours are frequently required, especially for emergencies.

Further details on a career as a Veterinarian are listed below (statistics from the May 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average yearly salary for veterinarians.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a Doctoral degree while 23% have a professional degree.

Veterinarian Education

Veterinarians must obtain a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary school, which usually takes around four years to complete. They also must be licensed to practice in their state and pass the national North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

Veterinarian Job Duties

Veterinarians examine and diagnose health issues in animals. Performing surgery, treating wounds, prescribing medication, administering vaccines, collecting biological samples for testing and performing euthanization are all required job duties. They also must be adept at communicating with owners about how to best care for their animals, end of life choices and proper medication administration. Vets are required to keep up with new information, science and technology in order to best perform their jobs.

Veterinarian Salaries

According to the, veterinarians make an average of $88,490 per year in May 2015. The lowest percentile earns around $53,210 annually while the highest percentile can earn $158,260 or more. While pay does increase with experience, it generally does so only slightly, and as with all occupations, pay varies by location. Bonuses and profit sharing can also increase an individual vet’s salary.

Veterinarian Job Outlook

The veterinarian career is expected to see growth: by about nine percent per the BLS, which is faster than average. The field is expected to be competitive, and candidates with a specialization or work experience will have the best chance at finding employment. Jobs in large animal care are expected to be easier to obtain, as more vets wish to work with small animals, so the competition is lessened.

Veterinarian Career

Veterinarian Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Veterinarians:Typical Work Activities:
• Science
• Complex Problem Solving
• Critical Thinking
• Reading Comprehension
• Speaking
• Inductive Reasoning
• Problem Sensitivity
• Deductive Reasoning
• Oral Expression
• Near Vision
• Animal husbandry equipment
• Medical x ray units
• Surgical clamps/clips
• Aspiration catheters
• Decision making
• Problem solving
• Using relevant knowledge
• Getting information
• Identifying information

Related Careers

Veterinary Assistants & Lab Animal Caretakers

High School Diploma or Equivalent

What Do Related Careers Pay?