Training to be a veterinarian

Last Updated on December 26, 2022

What Is a Veterinarian? - Education & Training Information | Ross Vet

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Veterinarians work with animals, providing preventive, emergency, and other medical care. A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, sometimes with an internship, is required, along with passing a state licensing exam. Vets can specialize working with small or large animals and can work in other medical specialties, usually requiring additional training or residency.

Essential Information

Veterinarians diagnose and treat diseases and disorders in animals. Students in veterinary schools typically have a bachelor’s degree in a related field and experience working with animals. After obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.), veterinarians must pass their state’s licensing exam before they can practice.

Required EducationDoctor of Veterinary Medicine
Other RequirementsState license required; professional certification optional
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*16% for veterinarians
Median Salary (2019)*$95,460 for veterinarians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Undergraduate Training

Some of the programs at the 28 veterinary colleges accredited nationally by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Association (AVMA), do not require an undergraduate degree for admission. However, they do require between 45 and 90 semester hours of prerequisite courses.

An applicant’s undergraduate program should consist of courses in topics such as physics, biochemistry, general biology, animal biology, genetics, zoology, animal nutrition and vertebrate embryology. Typically, veterinary colleges also place considerable importance on a candidate’s animal experience, such as working in agribusiness, veterinary clinics, animal shelters, stables or farms.

Depending on the school, scores from the Medical College Admission Test, GRE or Veterinary College Admission Test are required for admission.

Veterinary School Training

Veterinary schools offer 4-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programs. During the first two years, the programs usually consist of advanced training in the basic veterinary sciences, such as those covered in prerequisite courses. The final two years of the programs consist of training in clinical procedures, including disease diagnosis and treatment, surgery, toxicology, obstetrics, anesthesiology, radiology, zoonosis, which is any animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans and anthroponosis, which is any human disease that can be transmitted to animals.

It’s during veterinary school that many students decide to concentrate on becoming large animal vets, dealing with farm animals, such as horses and cows, or small animal vets, dealing with domestic pets, such as dogs and cats.

Following graduation, some individuals choose to participate in a 1-year internship to fine-tune their veterinary skills and possibly secure more rapid advancement in the field.

Licensure Requirements

With the occasional exception of employment by federal or state governments, all states and the District of Columbia require newly graduated veterinarians to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, in order to practice. D.V.M. candidates must pass an examination on state laws and regulations governing the field of veterinary medicine. Most states require veterinarians to participate in continuing education dealing with newly discovered diseases and newly developed treatments in order to renew a vet’s license on a regular basis.

Because there is little reciprocity between states, as a general rule, veterinarians who move to a new state must pass that state’s licensure examinations.

In order to fulfill the national educational licensure requirement, individuals who have received veterinary training outside the United States must demonstrate a proficiency in the English language, as well as clinical competence. This is accomplished by sitting for an examination administered by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates.

Certification Requirements

While not mandatory, some veterinarians decide to become certified by the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties in a veterinary medicine specialty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, depending on the specialty, individuals must complete a residency that can last up to four years (www.bls.gov). Among the 39 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties are exotic-small-animal medicine, internal medicine, dentistry, dermatology, cardiology, preventative medicine and oncology.

Veterinarians are medical practitioners specializing in animals. They usually complete a bachelor’s degree and then a post-secondary doctor of veterinary medicine degree. Licensing is required, which includes testing and other requirements once education is completed.Next: View SchoolsLink to this page

Veterinary Programs Guide

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Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

An admission advisor from each school can provide more info about:

  • programs & curriculum
  • career opportunities
  • tuition & financial aid
  • admissions & starting dates
  • 1University of PennsylvaniaSchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master’s Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
    Get Started with University of PennsylvaniaResearch University of Pennsylvania’s Programs & Degrees
  • 2University of FloridaSchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master’s Certificate
    • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
    Get Started with University of FloridaResearch University of Florida’s Programs
  • 3Cornell UniversitySchool InfoSchool locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Non-Degree: Coursework
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Nutrition Services
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
    Get Started with Cornell UniversityResearch Cornell University’s Programs
  • 4University of GeorgiaSchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Georgia (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at University of Georgia include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Health and Fitness
      • Nutrition Services
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Infectious Diseases
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
        • Veterinary Pathology
        • Veterinary Physiology
        • Veterinary Toxicology and Pharmacology
    Get Started with University of GeorgiaResearch University of Georgia’s Programs
  • 5Michigan State UniversitySchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at Michigan State University include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Non-Degree: Coursework
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Osteopathic Medicine – DO
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Large Animal and Equine Medicine
        • Veterinary Biomedical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
    Get Started with Michigan State UniversityResearch Michigan State University’s Programs & Degrees
  • 6Iowa State UniversitySchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Iowa (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at Iowa State University include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Nutrition Services
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Biomedical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
        • Veterinary Microbiology and Immunobiology
        • Veterinary Pathology
        • Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Public Health
    Get Started with Iowa State UniversityResearch Iowa State University’s Programs
  • 7Mississippi State UniversitySchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Mississippi (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at Mississippi State University include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master’s Certificate
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
    Get Started with Mississippi State UniversityResearch Mississippi State University’s Programs
  • 8The University of TennesseeSchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at The University of Tennessee include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM
    Get Started with The University of TennesseeResearch The University of Tennessee’s Programs
  • 9Western Governors UniversitySchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Online Learning
    Program InfoOnline ProgramsAreas of study you may find at Western Governors University include:
    • Graduate: Master
    • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master’s Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
    Get Started with Western Governors UniversityResearch Western Governors University’s Programs
  • 10Oregon State UniversitySchool InfoSchool locations:
    • Oregon (1 campus)
    Program InfoAreas of study you may find at Oregon State University include:
    • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
    • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Nutrition Services
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
        • Laboratory Animal Medicine
        • Veterinary Medicine – DVM

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