How to Become A Veterinarian

Veterinarians are professionals who take care of and treat any injuries or diseases present in animals. They diagnose and research different medical conditions present in animals and livestock. Usually graduates of veterinary programs, they can also specialize in a certain type of medicine or animal. Their job duties include prescribing medications, giving vaccinations, performing surgery, diagnosing patients, etc. This article will help you know the basic requirements to become a Veterinarian.

Should I Become A Veterinarian?

Education Required

Doctoral or Professional Degree

Major Requirement

Veterinary Medicine


Required in every state


Clinical Rotations in final year of study

Key Skills

Communication skills, Compassion, Decision-making skills, Manual dexterity, Problem-Solving skills

Annual Mean Salary (2018)


Job Outlook (2018-2028)

18% (Much faster than average)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Requirements

To become a veterinarian, along with an undergraduate program, students need to complete a four year program known as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD). A professional license is required which is obtained by passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. This license is applicable in all the states. However, some states may have additional requirements. Veterinarians are required to have strong communication skills so they can advise their clients on the best practices for their animals. According to the US bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary of a veterinarian was $105,240 in 2018.

Steps to Become a Veterinarian

  1. Complete Your Bachelor’s Degree

Most schools require students to have a bachelor’s degree. However, in some cases they are allowed to enter by taking the school’s prerequisite courses. Students usually have their degree in Biological Sciences, however most  schools do not require a particular major as long as the applicant has taken certain science courses including math, physics, chemistry and general biology. A few advanced courses like mammalogy, biochemistry, nutrition and animal behavior are required by some institutes.

Students are also recommended to join certain internship programs so they have an idea of what the profession is like. A few Schools of Veterinary Medicine ask the applicants to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as well.

  1. Earn Your Degree of Veterinary Medicine

The four-year program of Veterinary Medicine is carefully crafted. The initial two years of the program require the applicants to focus on understanding subjects like Nutrition, Physiology, Animal Anatomy and Virology. In the third and fourth year, the focus is on clinical studies where students come in contact with animals. In the last two years, they get a chance to practice their knowledge and skills through externships and practicums. Some students who want to gain advanced knowledge get involved with research projects.

  1. Obtain Your License

After graduating from a veterinary medicine program, those who want to practice it need to obtain a license. To get it, graduates have to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

  1. Get Experience

After getting the license, professionals who want to gain experience before having a permanent position should intern for a year.

  1. Consider Becoming a Certified Specialist

Even though it is not mandatory, some professionals choose to specialize in a particular area like surgery. Those who want to specialize are required to complete additional education or residency.

  1. Consider Joining a Professional Association

There are different national and state associations that exist for Veterinarians. Even though it is not compulsory, becoming a member of the association will help them have access to professional connections, newsletters and published literature.

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