Five Career Options For Veterinarians

January 15, 2021

Getting into veterinary school is not easy. Frequently vet students apply 2, 3, and 4 years in a row before they gain acceptance into a veterinary program.  There are 49 accredited veterinary schools worldwide, where a person can study to become a Doctor for animals. 

Some vet students do not want to keep trying year after year to get into a stateside school. Instead, they apply to one of the Caribbean vet schools, like SGU vet school. These schools have rolling admissions, which means more room for bigger class sizes each year. 

In the US, it will take approximately 8-13 years to earn a DVM degree. Specialties will require more years and general veterinarians’ fewer years. Often a veterinary Doctor will start off working as a vet tech. Vet techs have a tough job, mainly because they are overworked and underpaid. 

If your pet visits a vet’s office regularly, do not forget to get a few vet tech gifts for the staff. This small gesture will go a long way. Time after time, a vet tech is the first face to see your pet. Subsequently, they are also the ones to begin assessing your animal before the veterinarian even comes into the room.

Besides, many vet techs who go on to become veterinarians are better at their job. After they earn their veterinary degree, they can then appreciate the ups and downs that the vet techs go through daily. A vet tech turned veterinarian can, in turn, make the veterinarian more empathetic in the workplace.  More importantly, this will trickle down to create a much more positive work environment.

  1. Veterinary Entrepreneur 

A veterinarian can start a business by opening up a private practice. While still in vet school, many students often dream of one day opening up their very own vet’s office. The advantage is being in charge and able to do things your way. 

A veterinarian can either buy an established practice or start an entirely new one from scratch. 

If the vet chooses to buy one, then they are gaining clients right away. A downside is that they might be acquiring some bad reviews or horrible office habits before becoming the owner.

On the other hand, if a veterinarian chooses to start a new practice, they will have to take care of everything from marketing to hiring to designing the space. The workload is a lot to handle while also taking care of new patients. 

Most veterinary entrepreneurs hire an office manager right away or go in with a partner.

  1. Veterinary Surgeon

To become a veterinary surgeon, the candidate must first earn a DVM degree. Earning a DVM degree will take at the very least eight years. Most vet schools require a Bachelors degree, which is usually a four-year program. Unless, of course, you are in an accelerated undergrad program.  The next step is a veterinary school, which is another four years. Then the last step is a minimum of a three-year residency.

A board-certified veterinary surgeon usually works for one specific hospital. There are times when the Doctor can travel to various animal hospitals and perform surgeries as a freelancer. 

Withing the field of veterinary surgery there is also a wide range of opportunities available. Do you want to work with equine, wild animals, exotics, dogs, or cats? There are advantages to each one and it all depends on your passions.

  1. Avian or Exotic Animal Veterinarian

An exotic animal veterinarian is another specialty, similar to a surgeon that requires a residency after earning your DVM degree. The exotic vet residency is often three or more years. Afterward, the Doctor will need at least six years of experience working with avian patients before sitting for a board exam.

For a veterinarian to work with birds, they do not necessarily need the board certifications.  If the veterinarian wants to call themselves a specialist in that niche, they will have to get the board certifications. Any veterinarian who graduates from vet school and passes the NAVLE exam can technically work with any species. 

There are so many career options for a veterinarian out there!

The different residencies and board certifications are essential to becoming a real expert in the field.

  1. Veterinary Neurologist

A veterinary neurologist must be at the top of their class in order to gain acceptance into a residency program. First, the Doctor must complete a one-year residency after veterinary school, secondly they go through a three-year residency program. 

All in all, it takes 12 or more years to become a veterinary neurologist. Board-certified neurologists can obtain work in private hospitals, state-run hospitals, veterinary schools, or research centers.

A veterinary neurologist is a great career path if you love learning about diseases that affect the nervous system, brain, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues. You must be ready to devote many years of your life to learning.

  1. Veterinary Forensics 

If you are interested in animal welfare, then veterinary forensics is a great career choice. The University of Florida has a veterinary forensic program that is top-notch. The field of veterinary forensic sciences is a unique and unconventional area of veterinary medicine.

If you want a veterinary medicine career where no two days are alike, this might be up your alley.  A forensic veterinarian works closely with law enforcement to solve cases. One day you might be in a lab performing a necropsy, and the next day you might be traveling to NYC to investigate a dogfighting ring.

In conclusion, the veterinary profession has a wide range of job opportunities that are unique if you think outside the box. Many veterinary professionals are happy working in a vet clinic after graduation. It is all up to the individual. 

There are also other job opportunities that can place you in the veterinary field without going to vet school. To name a few other careers within the veterinary field:  a veterinary technician, a veterinary assistant, a veterinary office manager, a researcher, a kennel attendant.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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