Blog > Career Advice

Thinking of Becoming a Veterinarian? Ask Yourself These Questions First

Thinking of Becoming a Veterinarian? Ask Yourself These Questions First

Dedicating your time to animal care is a noble and valuable goal, and being a veterinarian or veterinary technician is a wonderful and fulfilling choice. However, before you decide to commitment yourself to this career path, have you asked yourself some important questions? There are so many excellent reasons to become a vet, but before you do take some time to consider the following and think about if this is the right track for you.

Are you in a position to take on student debt? Unless you are in a uniquely financially secure position, it is likely that pursuing veterinary medicine will result on taking on student loan debt. And it is not an insubstantial amount. According to The American Veterinary Medical Association almost 90% of students will need to borrow either private or government loans. And the debt from those who borrowed was averaged at around $183,014. This could be a financial burden and you should consider the pros and cons of pursuing this career before shouldering this large amount.

Are you familiar with how much starting veterinarians make? We made a handy guide to vet salaries that would be helpful to peruse after considering whether or not you’ll take on student loan debt. This will be important to consider when balancing the debt to income ratio. Depending on what kind of animal care you are looking to provide, you can accept a starting salary of around $85,000. Being a vet is a well-paying career, but it will take time and effort to get to a position where you’ll be earning comfortably.

What does your self-care look like? When considering the things that are most important to you where is your highest priority set? A career in animal care often means that time management and life balance are called into question. When launching your career in veterinary medicine it might mean sacrificing as much time you’ve preciously spent with your friends and family. You will need to work hard to find the right balance of work and family.

Do you know if you want to pursue a specialty? There are a number of paths to consider after embarking on your veterinary medicine career. If you are looking to become a board-certified veterinary diplomat that translates into numerous supplementary hours of training, study, and clinical practice. The benefit of pursuing a specialty often means that you will earn a much higher salary, however this also means that at the offset you will be incurring additional educational costs. Think seriously about what specialty you want to pursue and create a plan based upon that choice on how to most effectively achieve this goal.

Are you interested in owning your own practice? Similarly to deciding whether or not you are interested in pursuing a specialty, it is best to decide early whether or not you see yourself as the owner of a practice. Like dedicating yourself to a specialty, it can be a costly endeavor to start your own practice at the beginning. However, the benefit is that the amount you earn will be substantially higher in the long run. Like deciding on your specialty, if you decide that you see yourself owning your own practice make a plan and start saving early for this future ambition.

Are you willing to relocate? Just like it depends on what kind of animal care you want to practice, where you practice also factors into how much you make. Depending on what state you practice in, you could make considerably less in the area you are now than making the choice to move. If you are determined to remain in your area despite it being a more saturated location or lower paying, make sure to work on building and maintaining your network. We discussed the importance of networking previously [link out] and you can utilize this source to find a higher paying position or get better information about open positions in your area. But if you are looking to earn more at a faster pace, it could benefit you to move to areas where the need for vets are in greater demand.

How well do you handle stress? The benefits of becoming a veterinarian are numerous and considerable, but practicing animal care is both emotionally and physically stressful. It is a job that requires a tremendous amount of commitment with long hours, emotional and sad scenarios, and having to interact with upset pet owners that might transfer their frustration, anger, or sadness directly on you. Suffering from depression is often reported from vets. It is essential that you evaluate how you practice self-care and be honest with yourself if you can handle the emotional and physical demands of the job.

Becoming a veterinarian is a wonderful pursuit and is a rewarding and often lucrative career. Often times, people practicing veterinary medicine believe that the sacrifices you have to make in order to become a vet are outweighed by the benefits. Just take the time to consider the above before starting on your path.