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How to Become a Veterinarian

Career Goals: Veterinarian

Fulfill your childhood dreams and adult career goals! Becoming a veterinarian takes time and schooling. With a carefully planned educational pathway, becoming a veterinarian is a realistic and achievable goal. Using educational entitlements such as the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon program helps ensure students won’t be deterred from their goals from debilitating student debt.

What can you do with a Veterinary Medicine Degree?

There is, of course, one main career goal with a Degree in Veterinary Medicine: becoming a vet! Veterinarians are trained to diagnose, treat, and help prevent disease and disabilities in animals. Veterinarians serve the needs of the general public by practicing preventive medicine in relation to both human and animal health, and the humane care of companion animals. Veterinarians are also instrumental in the solutions of agricultural and wildlife problems.

Veterinarians typically have practices focusing on small animals, large animals, or exotic animals. However, there are a wide range of opportunities from A (as in aquatic animals) to Z (as in zoos)!

Is a Veterinary Medicine Degree hard?

If you have a passion for animals and are determined to achieve your veterinarian career goal, then a Degree in Veterinary Medicine is not difficult! Students seeking to enter the career field of veterinary medicine should be prepared for a comprehensive education beginning at the undergraduate level.

Getting a Degree in Veterinary Medicine

There are only about 30 accredited Colleges of Veterinary Medicine in the United States. However, before being admitted to one of these Veterinary Medicine Degree programs a student must complete, among other things, a Bachelor’s degree (with a minimum GPA of 3.0) and an impressive amount (about 500 hours) of related animal experience. Students can apply to vet school with a degree in any undergraduate major. However, most students typically have a related degree such as Biology, BioMedical, or better yet a Veterinary Sciences or Veterinary Medicine Bachelor’s degree.

Many schools will offer a Pre-Vet program that is designed to help students acquire the necessary undergraduate prerequisites for their graduate program and future veterinary college admission. These Pre-Vet programs may offer a similarly named degree (such as Animal Sciences) or they may be offered under another Sciences degree, typically Biology.

Bachelor’s in Veterinary Medicine

A Bachelor’s in Veterinary Medicine will incorporate the standard undergraduate courses is English, the Humanities, and Social Sciences. Yet it will also have a healthy dose of the sciences including:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics
  • Microbiology
  • Animal Science

With a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Medicine students will be well prepared to apply for graduate school at their Veterinary College(s) of choice. Students may also choose to directly enter the workforce in animal medicine or in a related field.

Jobs with a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Medicine

  • Zoologist– Study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. Median Annual Salary: $65,000.
  • Wildlife Biologist– Study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. Median Annual Salary: $65,000.
  • Agricultural Manager– Run establishments that produce crops, livestock, or dairy products. Median Annual Salary: $73,000.
  • Agricultural Scientist– Research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. Median Annual Salary: $74,000.

Master’s in Veterinary Medicine

A Master’s in Veterinary Medicine is not required to gain acceptance to an accredited veterinary college; a student only needs an undergraduate degree to enter an accredited graduate program to become a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine). However, students earning a Master’s in Veterinary Medicine show dedication to the field and are well-prepared to enter the workforce in a variety of jobs. For some students the end goal may not be to become a veterinarian but perhaps research, teaching, or a proprietor of an animal related business.

A Master’s in Veterinary Medicine is a great degree for those prepping for vet school, building a great foundation in all science fields and especially the animal sciences. A Master’s degree also offers students the opportunity to explore their specific interests and potential career specialties including:

  • comparative medicine
  • food animal medicine
  • epidemiology
  • public health
  • laboratory animal medicine
  • environmental medicine
  • livestock care
  • equine medicine
  • urban medicine
  • research
  • emergency care

Jobs with a Master’s in Veterinary Medicine

  • Postsecondary Teacher– Instruct students in Entrepreneurship courses beyond the high school level. Median Annual Salary: $80,000.
  • Animal Researcher- Conduct research in the genetics, nutrition, reproduction, growth, and development of domestic farm animals. Median Annual Salary: $80,000.
  • Author– Write about animal related topics in various media. Median Annual Salary: $134,000.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

This is the degree that will earn a student their veterinarian career goals! Along with other requirements, such as clinical hours and passing licensing exams, this Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree will earn students their career goal of becoming a veterinarian. There are many options when becoming a vet! From working for a large busting practice with a variety of specialties, to starting a mobile clinic, and even working for animal education or entertainment centers (such as theme parks, zoos, or aquariums)-the possibilities are endless!

Jobs with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarian– Care for the health of animals and work to protect public health. Median Annual Salary- $100,000.

Is a Veterinary Medicine Degree worth it?

If your career goal is to become a veterinarian, then there is no better educational pathway than a Degree in Veterinary Medicine! A Veterinary Medicine Degree is also an ideal degree for students that are preparing for any career related to animal medicine, care, or welfare. Earn the knowledge backed by a respectable degree and open up a wide variety of career opportunities!

GI Bill-approved Schools Offering a Veterinary Medicine Degree

Ready to start your educational journey to become a veterinarian? Check out these great programs at our partner schools:

University of Arizona – Is home to one of just 30 Accredited Veterinary Colleges in the US! The University of Arizona offers a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Science and a BS in Veterinary Science with Applied Animal Behavior Emphasis. The University of Arizona also offers an MS in Animal Sciences and an MS in Animal and Comparative BioMedical Sciences. University of Arizona is a GI Bill® approved school, offers credit for military experience, and awards credit for both the CLEP and DSST exams. University of Arizona is a Yellow Ribbon school and is approved for Tuition Assistance.

University of North Georgia – Offers a Pre-Veterinary Medicine advisement program for students that wish to pursue this career path. Students typically major in Biology but are allowed any major they wish. The University of North Georgia has GI Bill approved programs, offers credit for military experience, awards credit for the CLEP and DSST exams, and is approved for Tuition Assistance. University of North Georgia is a MyCAA approved school and University of North Georgia proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityVirginia Tech offers a BS and an MS in Animal and Poultry Sciences. Virginia Tech also offers pre-professional prep for veterinary medicine for students matriculating into a Veterinary College. The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is also located on the VT campus in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech is a GI Bill® approved school, offers credit for military experience, and is approved for Tuition Assistance. Virginia Tech is a Yellow Ribbon school and awards credit for both the CLEP and DSST exams.

Viterbo University – Offers a Pre-Health Program for a wide variety health related career fields including Veterinary Medicine. Viterbo University has GI Bill approved programs, offers credit for military experience, and awards credit for both the CLEP and DSST exams. Viterbo University is a Yellow Ribbon school, is a MyCAA approved school, and is approved for Tuition Assistance

*All statistics and calculations from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information click here.

 

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About the author

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Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.