10 Fulfilling Jobs in the Veterinary Field
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- A wide spectrum of veterinary jobs exist for many different types of candidates.
- Jobs for vet techs and veterinarians are projected to grow in the coming years.
- Salaries vary based on education levels, qualifications, and experience.
Not all people who love animals are cut out for the veterinary field, but loving animals is a prerequisite for pursuing a career in this healthcare discipline. Whether focusing on small or large animals, veterinary professionals help patients and their owners navigate health decisions.
Entry-level jobs may focus on administrative and limited clinical work, while licensed veterinarians spend nearly all their time working directly with animals. On this page, readers can learn about the wide spectrum of roles available.
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How to Enter the Veterinary Field
Individuals who want to enter the veterinary field should first think about the type of roles they're interested in. While veterinary technicians typically only need an associate degree, those who want to become licensed veterinarians must complete a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) program. Many students who know they want to pursue this path start with a bachelor's degree in pre-veterinary studies or a complementary subject such as biology.
Individuals who decide to pursue a DVM enter a competitive field, with more students vying for spots than are available at colleges and universities. If accepted, learners spent an additional four years completing clinical, practical, and laboratory components. Many also participate in practicums or field placements during this time.
Students who want to become veterinary technologists typically pursue a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. During this time, they also apply for and complete an internship, although some schools may also use a co-op model. Vet professionals at all levels may also consider certifications focused on specialty topics to build more niche knowledge.
10 Types of Veterinary Jobs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that veterinarians in the top 10% of earners received more than $165,600 as of 2021. The BLS reports that animal care and service workers earned just $28,730 during the same year. In many cases, earning a higher degree can lead to better salaries.
How to Find Veterinary Jobs
Several respected websites provide links to veterinary jobs across the country, making it easier for recent graduates and career veterans to find positions. The American Veterinary Medical Association hosts an online career center, as does iHireVeterinary and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
In addition to exploring online job boards, students can also take advantage of the career services office provided by their college or university. They may also review generalist job search sites such as Indeed, SimplyHired, ZipRecruiter, or Glassdoor, as many companies post on these sites.
Landing a job after college can be difficult, but it is by no means impossible. Some employers may also participate in virtual career fairs, making it easier to get to know what they are looking for in a new veterinary hire.
Professional Veterinary Organizations
American Veterinary Medical Association: AVMA offers members access to education and career services, virtual and in-person events, industry news, insurance, and information on jobs in the field.
United States Animal Health Association: Members of USAHA can take advantage of industry publications, committees and meetings, symposia, local chapters, and an active bulletin board.
American Animal Hospital Association: AAHA arranges an annual conference alongside providing an online, members-only community, in-person and virtual events, educational services, and publications.
Frequently Asked Questions About Veterinary Jobs
What is the highest-paid veterinary job?
Salaries within the veterinary field vary substantially based on factors such as education level, title, amount of experience, employer, and location. While the BLS found that veterinary assistants earned median salaries of $29,780 per year in 2021, the BLS also found that veterinarians in the top 10% of earners took home more than $165,600 during the same year.
In general, the highest-paid veterinary medicine jobs are those that require doctoral degrees. These programs provide the training needed to work directly with animal patients, supervise veterinary assistants and technologists, perform surgeries, prescribe medications, and provide day-to-day health services for animals large and small.
What veterinary career is the most popular?
The BLS projects jobs for veterinarians will expand by 17% between 2020 to 2030, leading to the creation of 14,500 new positions. Meanwhile, jobs for veterinary technicians and technologists are projected to expand by 15% and create more than 17,000 new roles.
Rather than considering the most popular career, students interested in this path should think about which one best aligns with their skill sets, interests, education level, and salary requirements. Students may also find that niche areas, such as veterinary cardiology or equine massage interest them.
Can I become a veterinarian with an online bachelor's degree?
Any person hoping to work as a veterinarian can start their educational journey with an online bachelor's degree as long as the school they attend holds proper institutional accreditation. Failing to check for accreditation can result in issues transferring credits, pursuing higher degrees, and finding a job.
That said, any person who wants to start a career as a veterinarian must complete a doctoral program in veterinary medicine. These programs last four years and admissions remain competitive.
How much money can I make with a veterinary job?
Veterinary job salaries run the gamut from minimum wage to six figures. Therefore, it's important for those thinking about this career to consider which role best aligns with their financial expectations. Positions for veterinary assistants or animal workers, which usually only require a high school diploma or GED certificate, typically pay the least within this field with salaries below $30,000 annually.
Individuals who want a higher salary but do not want to complete a DVM may consider working as a veterinary practice manager, as these professionals currently earn average salaries of more than $50,000 per year.
What is the fastest way to become a veterinarian?
Becoming a veterinarian requires individuals to earn a bachelor's degree before enrolling in a doctor of veterinary medicine program. Each of these requires four years of full-time study, meaning the majority of students spend eight years completing educational requirements.
From there, they must meet the licensing requirements of their state. These vary from place to place, but every state requires applicants to have completed a DVM from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association's Center for Veterinary Education Accreditation and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.