What is 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.

Learn more about what a Veterinarian does

How To Become a Veterinarian

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


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 for a Veterinarian

Veterinarians in America make an average salary of $126,372 per year or $61 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $322,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $49,000 per year.
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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 to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Veterinarian Resume Examples And Templates

Veterinarian Demographics

Veterinarian Gender Statistics


57.2 %


37.7 %


5.1 %

Veterinarian Ethnicity Statistics


85.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

5.6 %


5.2 %

Veterinarian Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics


51.1 %


10.9 %


5.4 %
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Veterinarian Education

Veterinarian Majors

11.3 %

Veterinarian Degrees


43.7 %


31.6 %


7.4 %

Top Colleges for Veterinarians

1. University of Georgia

Athens, GA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX • Private

In-State Tuition

3. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

4. Tufts University

Medford, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

5. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Private

In-State Tuition

6. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI • Private

In-State Tuition

7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Private

In-State Tuition

9. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
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Transgender Medicine for General Medical Providers

The course is a comprehensive set of didactic lectures surveying fundamentals of transgender medical and surgical treatment. The material is meant to provide the student with core knowledge that is essential for current primary care providers caring for transgender patients. There are 10 modules led by the expert clinical faculty from the pioneering Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, located within the Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New Yor...

Traditional herbal medicine in supportive cancer care: From alternative to integrative

Please join us for an exciting and innovative journey, examining one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of the oncology setting: Traditional Herbal Medicine in Supportive Cancer Care. This course is presented with short lectures offering a wide range of issues related to the principles and practice of herbal medicine in cancer care. The course includes interviews with leading world experts from the field of Integrative Oncology, from the U.S. and Canada, as well as Europe, the Mi...

Essentials of Palliative Care

This course starts you on your journey of integrating primary palliative care into your daily lives. You will learn what palliative care is, how to communicate with patients, show empathy, and practice difficult conversations. You will learn how to screen for distress and provide psychosocial support. You will learn about goals of care and advance care planning and how to improve your success with having these conversations with patients. Finally, you will explore important cultural consideratio...

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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, 14.3% of veterinarians listed customer service on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and compassion are important as well.

  • Customer Service, 14.3%
  • Diagnostic Tests, 9.5%
  • Preventative Care, 8.4%
  • Blood Samples, 8.2%
  • Internal Medicine, 7.7%
  • Other Skills, 51.9%
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12 Veterinarian RESUME EXAMPLES

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 North Dakota, Utah, Montana, and Vermont. Veterinarians make the most in North Dakota with an average salary of $145,347. Whereas in Utah and Montana, they would average $123,596 and $123,505, respectively. While veterinarians would only make an average of $121,507 in Vermont, 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. Utah

Total Veterinarian Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
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. Rhode Island

Total Veterinarian Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
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. Kansas

Total Veterinarian Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
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
Full List Of Best States For Veterinarians

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