Veterinarian Jobs & Career Guide

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What Is a Veterinarian?

Veterinarians are highly dedicated animal care professionals who play an important role in the maintenance of animal health and wellbeing. At the heart of their job lies a passion for promoting animal welfare through efficient and accurate diagnoses, treatments, vaccinations, medical surgeries, and preventive medicine measures.

Veterinary medicine has expanded to include a wide range of specializations to cater to different animals like exotic species, aquatic life, pet birds, farm animals, large livestock, and so on.

Generally speaking, a veterinarian must complete specialist training to perform roles such as dentistry or testing for transmissible diseases. It is a versatile profession requiring knowledge of moral law and ethics and comprehensive practical experience.

Veterinary practitioners must remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field due to the changing nature of the field which is essential for delivering the best patient care available.

What You Do Day-to-Day as a Veterinarian

Every day brings something new and unique, which makes it fascinating.

In one day you might be performing surgery on an injured dog in the morning and then in the afternoon meeting with a family to discuss the nutrition needs of their puppy. Once per week, you may even find yourself dealing with issues related to exotic animals like parrots and snakes! No two days are exactly alike as a veterinarian.

One thing remains constant daily veterinarians use their analytical skills to diagnose burning questions from pet owners and provide treatment options ranging from medications to vaccines to surgical procedures - all geared towards helping the furry (and sometimes scaly!) friends we care for heal quickly and return home happy and healthy.

Where Do Veterinarians Work?

Veterinarians work in many places to help animals achieve and maintain optimal health. Besides the traditional clinic or hospital setting, veterinarians may work at private practices, universities, farms, research facilities, zoos, animal sanctuaries, and government agencies.

The general focus remains the same regardless of where the veterinarian is employed--to provide diagnostic care, humane treatment, and preventive healthcare for all species of animals. A veterinarian can bring great things to any community – no matter where they choose to hang their professional hat.

An increasing number of veterinarians are working remotely.

How Do I Become a Veterinarian?

Becoming a veterinarian is a long and complex process, but the reward at the end of it makes all the hard work worth it.


To pursue this career path, one should start early in their academic education by getting an undergraduate bachelor's degree in biology, zoology, animal science, or another related field. This degree takes about four years to complete.

After that, potential veterinarians must obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, otherwise referred to as a Ph. D, from an accredited institution that is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for providing advanced education. This will take another three-four years to complete.


Internships are invaluable for aspiring veterinarians as they provide valuable insight into the day-to-day operations of a successful veterinary practice. Through internships, students can witness how to examine, diagnose and treat animals in different settings, learn about business development and client interaction strategies, and develop the professional skills needed to be successful in the field. 

Moreover, internships build invaluable relationships with seasoned professionals that can help you get ahead when searching for a job. Employers highly recommend applicants have field experience before applying for positions due to the intense nature of the job.

Licensing and Certifications

Once you get your DVM, you will apply for a certificate or license in the state you intend to practice. The licensing process typically involves completing exams and submitting various documents demonstrating your competency and expertise to practice veterinary medicine; the time it takes varies by location.

On average, however, obtaining the necessary credentials may take up to five years after graduating with a DVM degree.

Additionally, many veterinary practices may require specialized training and certifications for specific areas.

How Much Money Can You Earn as a Veterinarian?

Working as a veterinarian can be a financially rewarding career, depending on factors such as the location of the practice and specialty. According to the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians, on average, made $109,920 annually.

See our veterinarian salary guide for more information.

An experienced practitioner in urban areas will generally experience higher earnings than those in rural settings due to differences in clientele and cost of living. Additionally, certain specialties are known to generate more income than others.

For example, veterinarians who specialize in working with large animals such as horses or cattle may make more money than doctors who work primarily with small animals like cats or dogs. This is because treatment for these larger species often requires unique knowledge that comes with additional certification and expertise.

What Is the Career Path of Veterinarians?

There are several career opportunities for veterinarians, each with its importance.

Public Health

As public health officials, veterinarians are responsible for controlling animal-borne disease outbreaks, responding to animal-related public health emergencies, and performing inspections of food processing facilities.

Veterinarian Epidemiologist

As a Veterinarian Epidemiologist, many important job responsibilities need to be taken care of.

Responsibilities include tracking emerging disease outbreaks, identifying the causes of diseases in animals, researching ways to prevent and control diseases in animal populations, and providing advice on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Additionally, Veterinary Epidemiologists may create forensic profiles for deaths due to animal-related causes and help assess potential hazards or vulnerabilities of these diseases among animal populations.

They also develop educational resources for veterinarians about emerging animal health issues as well as raise awareness among pet owners about the importance of preventive health measures.

Food Safety and Inspection Specialist

As a Food Safety and Inspection veterinarian Specialist, you bear an important responsibility: ensuring that all food products are safe and free from any contaminants.

To do this, your role will involve conducting safety inspections throughout the production process, analyzing and interpreting data points to ensure government-mandated food safety standards are met, and examining samples using scientific techniques to detect possible contamination or disease of livestock.

In addition, you may need to travel to farms and processing centers, have working knowledge of laboratory protocols, present written reports summarizing data findings, and formulate recommendations for best practices about food safety.


In the research field, veterinarians may work and are responsible for studying, researching, and managing teams of other veterinarians. They conduct analysis and develop new protocols for advancing the field of veterinary science.

Veterinarians in the research field often participate in other activities outside their research or courses—including advising the industry, providing expert witness statements, or collaborating with state or federal agencies to review proposed legislation on animal welfare.

They coordinate and organize resources, research data systems, and journal articles to ensure the accuracy of the studies they’re working on.

Private Practices

As a veterinarian working for a private practice, you are responsible for:

  • Diagnosing and treating pets with illness or injury

  • Providing preventive health care services to keep animals healthy

  • Administering vaccinations as required.

  • Counseling owners on appropriate nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness plans

  • Performing surgery

  • Issuing health certificates for travel and other legal documents

  • Examining and caring for exotic pets such as iguanas and parrots

But that's not all - it is equally important to keep up-to-date records on each animal's medical history so that the best possible care can be provided!


Veterinarians are essential members of the medical field, providing services that ensure the health and well-being of animals.

These professionals routinely care for a wide range of animals, both domestic and wild, and they offer preventive services such as vaccinations, health examinations, and dental care.

A career in veterinary medicine can be both rewarding and challenging, and there are many job opportunities available to those who have the right qualifications.