Those who love animals and like taking care of them should consider a career in veterinary medicine. The preparation for becoming a veterinarian should start with enrolling for a bachelor's degree in science, like biology, chemistry, physics, etc. As the job profile requires working with animals, students who have previous work experience handling animals will excel in this profession. Being a vet is not just about dealing with animals. You will also have to interact with pet owners, animal handlers, and, in some job profiles, work in dangerous working conditions, like dealing with wild animals.
Becoming a Veterinarian
- Enroll for a bachelor's degree program in science-related fields, that will act as the foundation for your veterinary medicine study. Take up courses in biology, chemistry, maths, etc., and try to maintain a good grade point average (GPA) in your bachelor's degree program. These degree-level programs last for 4 years. Most veterinary schools will require candidates to complete science and maths prerequisites, before they accept them into the medicine programs.
- Many schools require candidates to have work experience in dealing with animals, before they apply for a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. So, if you want to make a career in veterinary medicine, take up a job that allows you to work with animals. Some of the options that you could explore are working in a pet store, zoo, animal shelter, etc. You could also volunteer at the local Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). One of the ideas is to volunteer at a veterinary clinic, and get the doctor to write you a recommendation letter.
- To get into top veterinary schools in the United States, candidates are required to have good scores for exams like Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Veterinary schools also have one of the toughest entrance exams, and statistics show that only 35 percent of the applicants are accepted.
- Program course work in the first two years mostly includes classroom training on subjects like parasitology, diagnostics, nutrition, anesthesiology, radiology and surgery. The last two years allow students to get practical experience in veterinary hospitals. Students get to devise treatment plans, examine animals, conduct diagnostic tests, and even get valuable experience in interacting with pet owners.
Job Description and Salary
Diagnosing animals and devising treatment plans constitutes a major part of the job description. Vets are also required to conduct diagnostic tests, conduct surgeries, chalk out nutrition plans, and administer vaccines. They are also required to have good interpersonal skills, as they have to interact with pet owners. At times, vets are also required to conduct public awareness programs regarding animal hygiene and diseases that might affect humans.
The salary depends on the location of the job, work profile, and experience, just like other professions. National statistics indicate that the average salary for veterinarians range anywhere between USD 55,000 to USD 80,000 annually. In urban job settings, like California, experienced vets are known to earn between USD 80,000 to USD 110,000.
Another important thing is to take up science-related subjects in school, as this will make admission to a bachelor's program and study at a vet school easy. Individuals who love animals will excel in this profession, and the job outlook is also good for the coming years.