Veterinarian

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Job Outlook:
Much faster than average
Education: Doctoral or professional degree
Salary
High: $174,500.00
Average: $129,110.00
Hourly
Average: $62.07

What they do:

Diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. Includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.

On the job, you would:

  • Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds, or performing surgery.
  • Inoculate animals against various diseases, such as rabies or distemper.
  • Examine animals to detect and determine the nature of diseases or injuries.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Strong communication skills are essential for veterinarians, who must be able to discuss their recommendations and explain treatment options to animal owners and give instructions to their staff.

Compassion. Veterinarians must be compassionate when working with animals and their owners. They must treat animals with kindness and respect, and they must be sensitive when dealing with the animal owners.

Decision-making skills. Veterinarians must decide the correct method for treating the injuries and illnesses of animals.

Manual dexterity. Veterinarians must control their hand movements and be precise when treating injuries and performing surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Veterinarians need strong problem-solving skills because they must figure out what is ailing animals. Those who test animals to determine the effects of drug therapies also need excellent diagnostic skills.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

98% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
94% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
92% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
91% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
90% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
89% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
88% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
87% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
84% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
82% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
81% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
80% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
78% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
78% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
76% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
70% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

100% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
78% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

100% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
89% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
83% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
83% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
81% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
61% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
78% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
69% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
66% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
66% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
66% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

70% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Provide health and wellness advice to patients, program participants, or caregivers.
Maintain medical or professional knowledge.
Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
Maintain medical facility records.
Perform clerical work in medical settings.
Counsel family members of clients or patients.
Examine patients to assess general physical condition.
Treat acute illnesses, infections, or injuries.
Operate on patients to treat conditions.
Prescribe medications.
Immunize patients.
Collect biological specimens from patients.
Analyze test data or images to inform diagnosis or treatment.
Operate diagnostic imaging equipment.
Communicate health and wellness information to the public.
Train medical providers.
Supervise medical support personnel.
Provide care for animals.
Treat animal injuries or illnesses.
Determine protocols for medical procedures.
Analyze medical data to determine cause of death.
Manage healthcare operations.
Drive vehicles to transport individuals or equipment.
Examine patients to assess general physical condition.
Develop medical treatment plans.
Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
Inspect facilities or sites to determine if they meet specifications or standards.
Inspect facilities for cleanliness.
Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
99% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
98% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
97% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
96% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
95% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
94% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
91% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
89% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
89% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
89% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
88% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
86% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
82% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
80% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
80% Exposed to Disease or Infections  -  How often does this job require exposure to disease/infections?
80% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
77% Responsibility for Outcomes and Results  -  How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
77% Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings  -  How often does this job require exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings?
77% Consequence of Error  -  How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
76% Exposed to Contaminants  -  How often does this job require working exposed to contaminants (such as pollutants, gases, dust or odors)?
76% Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls  -  How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
75% Exposed to Radiation  -  How often does this job require exposure to radiation?
74% Spend Time Standing  -  How much does this job require standing?
72% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
71% Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable  -  How often does this job require working exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting or uncomfortable?
68% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
65% Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People  -  How frequently does the worker have to deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals as part of the job requirements?
65% Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection  -  How much does this job require wearing specialized protective or safety equipment such as breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suits, or radiation protection?
69% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

95% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
88% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
88% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
87% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
82% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
81% Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
76% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
76% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
70% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
70% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
68% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
68% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
67% Assisting and Caring for Others  -  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.

What Veterinarians Do

Veterinarians
Veterinarians use x rays to diagnose animals.

Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to protect public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.

Duties

Veterinarians typically do the following:

  • Examine animals to assess their health and diagnose problems
  • Treat and dress wounds
  • Perform surgery on animals
  • Test for and vaccinate against diseases
  • Operate medical equipment, such as x-ray machines
  • Advise animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments
  • Prescribe medication
  • Euthanize animals

Veterinarians treat the injuries and illnesses of pets and other animals with a variety of medical equipment, including surgical tools and x-ray and ultrasound machines. They provide treatment for animals that is similar to the services a physician provides to humans.

The following are examples of types of veterinarians:

Companion animal veterinarians treat pets and generally work in private clinics and hospitals. They most often care for cats and dogs, but they also treat other pets, such as birds, ferrets, and rabbits. These veterinarians diagnose and provide treatment for animal health problems; consult with animal owners about preventive healthcare; and carry out medical and surgical procedures, such as vaccinations, dental work, and setting fractures.

Food animal veterinarians work with farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep, which are raised to be food sources. They spend their time visiting farms and ranches to treat ill and injured animals and to test for and vaccinate against disease. They may advise farm owners or managers about feeding, housing, and general health practices.

Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect and test livestock and animal products for major animal diseases. They also provide vaccines to treat animals, enhance animal welfare, conduct research to improve animal health, and enforce government food safety regulations. They design and administer animal and public health programs to prevent and control diseases transmissible among animals and between animals and people.

Work Environment

Veterinarians held about 89,500 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of veterinarians were as follows:

Veterinary services 83%
Self-employed workers 10
Government 2
Social advocacy organizations 1
Educational services; state, local, and private 1

Most veterinarians work in private clinics and hospitals. Others travel to farms or work in settings such as laboratories, classrooms, or zoos.

Veterinarians who treat horses or food animals travel between their offices and farms and ranches. They work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to perform surgery, often in remote locations.

Veterinarians who work in food safety and inspection travel to farms, slaughterhouses, and food-processing plants to inspect the health of animals and to ensure that the facility follows safety protocols.

The work can be emotionally stressful, as veterinarians care for abused animals, euthanize sick ones, and offer support to the animals’ anxious owners. Working on farms and ranches, in slaughterhouses, or with wildlife can also be physically demanding.

Injuries and Illnesses

When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, and scratched. In addition, veterinarians working with diseased animals risk being infected by the disease.

Work Schedules

Most veterinarians work full time, often working more than 40 hours per week. Some work nights or weekends, and they may have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours.

Getting Started

Education:
79%
Doctoral Degree
12%
Post-Doctoral Training

How to Become a Veterinarian

Veterinarians
A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.

Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary college, as well as a state license.

Education

Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive. Applicants to veterinary school typically have a bachelor's degree in a field such as biology. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, and animal science. Most programs also require math, humanities, and social science courses.

Some veterinary medical colleges prefer candidates who have studied agriculture or have experience working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter.

In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Students typically spend the final year of the 4-year program doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Veterinarians must be licensed in order to practice in the United States. Licensing requirements vary by state, but prospective veterinarians in all states must complete an accredited veterinary program and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

In addition to passing the national exam, most states require that veterinarians pass a state licensing exam. However, veterinarians employed by state or federal government may not need a state license, because government agencies differ in what they require.

Each state’s exam covers its laws and regulations. Few states accept licenses from other states, so veterinarians usually must take exams for the states in which they want to be licensed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has an Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) certification program, which allows foreign graduates to fulfill the educational prerequisites for licensure.

Job Outlook

Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 20 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 5,000 openings for veterinarians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Increases in consumers’ pet-related spending, expanding treatment options, and a growing, aging pet population are expected to drive employment growth of veterinarians.

Veterinary medicine has advanced considerably. Today’s veterinarians are able to offer many services that are comparable to healthcare for humans, including more complicated procedures such as cancer treatments and kidney transplants.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about careers in veterinary medicine, a list of U.S. schools and colleges of veterinary medicine, and information on accreditation policies, visit

American Veterinary Medical Association

For more information about veterinary education, visit

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

For information about the licensing exam, visit

International Council for Veterinary Assessment

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of veterinarians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Agricultural and food scientists Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor's degree $74,940
Animal care and service workers Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers attend to or train animals.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,790
Dentists Dentists

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth.

Doctoral or professional degree $159,530
Medical scientists Medical Scientists

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.

Doctoral or professional degree $99,930
Microbiologists Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites.

Bachelor's degree $81,990
Optometrists Optometrists

Optometrists diagnose, manage, and treat conditions and diseases of the human eye and visual system, including examining eyes and prescribing corrective lenses.

Doctoral or professional degree $125,590
Physicians and surgeons Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and address health maintenance.

Doctoral or professional degree $229,300
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers handle routine animal care and help scientists, veterinarians, and others with their daily tasks.

High school diploma or equivalent $34,740
Veterinary technologists and technicians Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.

Associate's degree $38,240
Zoologists and wildlife biologists Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals, those both in captivity and in the wild, and how they interact with their ecosystems.

Bachelor's degree $67,430

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.