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Working as a Veterinarian

Similar to the service you receive from your physician, your pets receive the same care from their veterinarian. Vets are responsible for treating injuries and illnesses of your beloved best friend through the use of a variety of medical equipment like surgical tools and x-ray and ultrasound machines.

Not all veterinarians are alike. There are different types of veterinarians one could choose to be, including companion animal veterinarians, food animal veterinarians, and food safety and inspection veterinarians. Because of the variety of positions, it makes sense that veterinarian offices look quite different from each other. While the majority of vets work in clinics or hospitals, others travel to farms or work in laboratories, classrooms and zoos. Definitely beats working in a cubicle!

What Does a Veterinarian Do

Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to improve public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.

Duties

Veterinarians typically do the following:

  • Examine animals to diagnose their health problems
  • Treat and dress wounds
  • Perform surgery on animals
  • Test for and vaccinate against diseases
  • Operate medical equipment, such as x-ray machines
  • Advise animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments
  • Prescribe medication
  • Euthanize animals

Veterinarians treat the injuries and illnesses of pets and other animals with a variety of medical equipment, including surgical tools and x-ray and ultrasound machines. They provide treatment for animals that is similar to the services a physician provides to treat humans.

The following are examples of types of veterinarians:

Companion animal veterinarians treat pets and generally work in private clinics and hospitals. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 75 percent of veterinarians who work in private clinical practice treat pets. They most often care for cats and dogs, but also treat other pets, such as birds, ferrets, and rabbits. These veterinarians diagnose and provide treatment for animal health problems, consult with owners of animals about preventive healthcare, and carry out medical and surgical procedures, such as vaccinations, dental work, and setting fractures.

Equine veterinarians work with horses. In 2014, about 6 percent of private practice veterinarians diagnosed and treated horses.

Food animal veterinarians work with farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep, which are raised to be food sources. In 2014, about 7 percent of private practice veterinarians treated food animals. They spend much of their time at farms and ranches treating illnesses and injuries and testing for and vaccinating against disease. They may advise owners or managers about feeding, housing, and general health practices.

Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect and test livestock and animal products for major animal diseases, provide vaccines to treat animals, enhance animal welfare, conduct research to improve animal health, and enforce government food safety regulations. They design and administer animal and public health programs for the prevention and control of diseases transmissible among animals and between animals and people.

Research veterinarians work in laboratories, conducting clinical research on human and animal health problems. These veterinarians may perform tests on animals to identify the effects of drug therapies, or they may test new surgical techniques. They may also research how to prevent, control, and eliminate food- and animal-borne illnesses and diseases.

Some veterinarians become postsecondary teachers at colleges and universities.

How To Become a Veterinarian

Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary college and a state license.

Education

Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. There are currently 30 colleges with accredited programs in the United States. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.

Although not required, most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, zoology, microbiology, and animal science. Most programs also require math, humanities, and social science courses.

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive, and less than half of all applicants were accepted in 2014.

In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Students typically spend the final year of the 4-year program doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Veterinarians must be licensed in order to practice in the United States. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require prospective veterinarians to complete an accredited veterinary program and to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Veterinarians working for the state or federal government may not be required to have a state license, because each agency has different requirements.

Most states not only require the national exam but also have a state exam that covers state laws and regulations. Few states accept licenses from other states, so veterinarians who want to be licensed in another state usually must take that state’s exam.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers certification in 40 specialties, such as surgery, microbiology, and internal medicine. Although certification is not required for veterinarians, it can show exceptional skill and expertise in a particular field. To sit for a specialty certification exam, veterinarians must have a certain number of years of experience in the field, complete additional education, and complete a residency program, typically lasting 3 to 4 years. Requirements vary by specialty.

Other Experience

Some veterinary medical colleges weigh experience heavily during the admissions process. Formal experience, such as previous work with veterinarians or scientists in clinics, agribusiness, research, or some area of health science, is particularly advantageous. Less formal experience, such as working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter, can also be helpful.

Although graduates of a veterinary program can begin practicing once they receive their license, some veterinarians pursue further education and training. Some new veterinary graduates enter internship or residency programs to gain specialized experience.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Veterinarians must be compassionate when working with animals and their owners. They must treat animals with kindness and respect, and must be sensitive when dealing with the animal owners.

Communication skills. Strong communication skills are essential for veterinarians, who must be able to discuss their recommendations and explain treatment options to animal owners and give instructions to their staff.

Decisionmaking skills. Veterinarians must decide the correct method for treating the injuries and illnesses of animals. For instance, deciding to euthanize a sick animal can be difficult.

Management skills. Management skills are important for veterinarians who manage private clinics or laboratories, or direct teams of technicians or inspectors. In these settings, they are responsible for providing direction, delegating work, and overseeing daily operations.

Manual dexterity. Manual dexterity is important for veterinarians, because they must control their hand movements and be precise when treating injuries and performing surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Veterinarians need strong problem-solving skills because they must figure out what is ailing animals. Those who test animals to determine the effects of drug therapies also need excellent diagnostic skills.

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Average Salary$111,078
Job Growth Rate18%

Veterinarian Jobs

Veterinarian Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Veterinarian. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Veterinarian Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Veterinarian resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Veterinarian Career Paths

Top Careers Before Veterinarian

Top Careers After Veterinarian

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Veterinarian

Veterinarians in America make an average salary of $111,078 per year or $53 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $222,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $55,000 per year.
Average Salary
$111,078

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range125k - 182k$151k$151,391
Salary Range97k - 216k$145k$145,020
Salary Range95k - 210k$142k$141,553
Salary Range90k - 201k$135k$135,120
Salary Range88k - 201k$134k$133,540
Salary Range81k - 202k$128k$128,408
$60k
$216k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Veterinarian
Veterinarian
Sunset Hance Veterinary PLLC
Sunset Hance Veterinary PLLC
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$100,00010/31/2020
$100,000
City Veterinarian
City Veterinarian
City of Henderson
City of Henderson
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$156,52510/30/2020
$156,525
Veterinarian
Veterinarian
Hance Veterinary PC
Hance Veterinary PC
10/28/2020
10/28/2020
$100,00010/28/2020
$100,000
Veterinarian
Veterinarian
Mallards Hance Veterinary LLC
Mallards Hance Veterinary LLC
10/28/2020
10/28/2020
$100,00010/28/2020
$100,000
Veterinarian 3 (Specialist In Veterinary Cardiology)
Veterinarian 3 (Specialist In Veterinary Cardiology)
University of California
University of California
09/28/2020
09/28/2020
$85,50009/28/2020
$85,500
See More Recent Salaries

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Veterinarian Demographics

Gender

female

57.2%

male

37.7%

unknown

5.1%

Ethnicity

White

71.0%

Black or African American

9.4%

Asian

9.3%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.1%

French

10.9%

Russian

5.4%
See More Demographics

Veterinarian Education

Degrees

Doctorate

41.2%

Bachelors

22.7%

Masters

13.5%

Top Colleges for Veterinarians

1. University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Tuition and fees
$11,830
Enrollment
29,474

2. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX

Tuition and fees
$11,870
Enrollment
53,194

3. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Tuition and fees
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

4. Tufts University

Medford, MA

Tuition and fees
$56,382
Enrollment
5,597

5. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

Tuition and fees
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

6. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI

Tuition and fees
$10,555
Enrollment
30,360

7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Tuition and fees
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

8. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD

Tuition and fees
$10,595
Enrollment
30,184

9. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC

Tuition and fees
$9,101
Enrollment
23,708

10. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA

Tuition and fees
$14,402
Enrollment
30,698
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Veterinarian

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Veterinarian

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.6% of veterinarians listed veterinary technicians on their resume, but soft skills such as compassion and decision-making skills are important as well.

  • Veterinary Technicians, 11.6%
  • Veterinary Medicine, 10.7%
  • Preventative Care, 10.3%
  • Customer Service, 9.6%
  • Client Communication, 7.7%
  • Other Skills, 50.1%
  • See All Veterinarian Skills

Best States For a Veterinarian

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a veterinarian. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, West Virginia, Maine, and New Jersey. Veterinarians make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $155,174. Whereas in West Virginia and Maine, they would average $133,758 and $130,414, respectively. While veterinarians would only make an average of $130,364 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. West Virginia

Total Veterinarian Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$232,000
Location Quotient:
1.22
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Veterinarian Jobs:
5
Highest 10% Earn:
$220,000
Location Quotient:
1.3
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Missouri

Total Veterinarian Jobs:
63
Highest 10% Earn:
$224,000
Location Quotient:
1.55
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

Veterinarian Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a veterinarian. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless veterinarian resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Veterinarian Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless veterinarian resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

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Top Veterinarian Employers

1. Banfield Pet Hospital
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$38,314
Veterinarians Hired: 
40+
2. Medical Management International
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$67,661
Veterinarians Hired: 
35+
3. The Animal Medical Center
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$33,087
Veterinarians Hired: 
16+
4. Vicar Operating
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$55,112
Veterinarians Hired: 
12+
5. Chevron
5.0
Avg. Salary: 
$54,295
Veterinarians Hired: 
11+
6. North Carolina Central University
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$46,455
Veterinarians Hired: 
11+

Veterinarian Videos

Recently Added Veterinarian Jobs