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Veterinarians picture    Veterinarians image

Veterinarians

Veterinarians, also known as doctors of veterinary medicine, diagnose and treat diseases and dysfunction of animals. They also perform surgeries, set fractures and dress wounds. They help pets, zoo animals, racetrack horses, livestock and animals living in laboratories. The American Medical Veterinary Association has reported that 77 percent of the veterinarians that work in private medical practice provide treatments to pets.

Pet veterinarians mostly treat cats and dogs, however they also provide treatments for reptiles, birds, ferrets, rabbits and other types of pets. Some veterinarians specialize in horses. Those that treat livestock and horses provide vaccinations and test for diseases. Farm animal veterinarians offer advice to farmers and ranchers regarding feeding animals, animal production and housing.

Some doctors of veterinary medicine are involved in research. Some veterinarians contribute to the health of humans by working with doctors and scientists to find preventive measures and treatments for a variety of human health problems. A number of veterinarians are involved in food safety and inspection. Some work as livestock inspectors and evaluate animals for transmissible diseases.

Some sample job titles are veterinary medicine doctor, emergency veterinarian, small animal veterinarian, doctor of veterinary medicine, staff veterinarian, large animal veterinarian, companion animal practitioner and veterinary surgeon.

Responsibilities

  • Examine animals in order to detect and determine the nature of injuries and illnesses
  • Treat injured and sick animals
  • Prescribe medications for animals
  • Vaccinate animals against diseases
  • Perform surgeries
  • Advise animal owners about feeding, breeding, behavior and other issues
  • Euthanize animals when necessary
  • Attend lectures, continuing education courses and conferences

Job Characteristics

Veterinarians that treat pets primarily work in a clinic and often work more than 40 hours a week. Those working in a group practice may have to take turns being on call during the evenings, nights and weekends. Pet veterinarians risk being bitten, scratched or kicked. Those that treat horses and livestock typically travel to ranches and farms to provide veterinary services. They often work outdoors. Those involved in research work in laboratories or offices.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an employment increase of 33 percent for veterinarians during the 2008 to 2018 timeframe which is much faster than average for all occupations. The fast growth of the cat population is expected to increase the demand for feline veterinary services. Excellent job opportunities are forecasted for veterinarians since there are just 28 accredited veterinary medicine schools in the nation, which results in a limited number of graduates each year.

In 2008 the median annual earnings for veterinarians was $79,050. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $143,650. Farm animal veterinarians typically earn less money that pet veterinarians.

Most veterinarians begin their careers as employees of group practices. After gaining experience, many veterinarians set up their own practice or buy an established practice.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Prospective veterinarians need to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree from an accredited college of veterinary medicine. There are numerous colleges that meet the accreditation standards established by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The prerequisites for admission to veterinary programs vary. Many veterinary programs do not require students to have a bachelor's degree, although all the programs require a substantial number of credit hours at the undergraduate level. However, most of the students have earned a bachelor's degree.

Admissions to veterinary schools is competitive. In 2007 about one out of three applicants was accepted to veterinary school. Some veterinary colleges place a heavy consideration on the applicant's veterinary and animal experience. Experience gained through working with veterinarians or scientists in clinics, research, agribusiness or some area of health science can be very beneficial.

Pre-veterinary courses in science subjects are recommended. Veterinary medical colleges usually require candidates to have completed classes in subjects including biochemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, animal biology, general biology, genetics, animal nutrition, cellular biology, vertebrate embryology, systemic physiology, zoology and microbiology.

Veterinarians need a Doctor of Veterinarian Medical degree and a state license. Many new graduates of veterinary schools choose to take a one year internship. The internship provides a small salary, yet they often discover that the internship leads to better paying opportunities.

Those that seek board certification are required to complete a three to four year residency program that includes intensive training in 1 of the 39 AVMA recognized veterinarian specialities. Most states have continuing education requirements for licensed veterinarians.

Resources

Major Employers

The primary employers are group practice veterinary clinics and hospitals, colleges, universities, research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and local, state and federal government agencies.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Veterinarians

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Veterinarians jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 270 $73,580
Birmingham 270 $73,580
Huntsville 110 $68,690
Montgomery 80 $76,810
Foley 50 $73,090
Fairhope 50 $73,090
Daphne 50 $73,090
Mobile 50 $94,570
Decatur 40 $75,620
Tuscaloosa 30 $62,150
Opelika 30 $98,450
Auburn 30 $98,450
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 110 $89,050
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Phoenix 1090 $85,220
Scottsdale 1090 $85,220
Mesa 1090 $85,220
Tucson 180 $89,320
Prescott 70 $95,130
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 160 $78,170
North Little Rock 160 $78,170
Little Rock 160 $78,170
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 1620 $110,120
Anaheim 1620 $110,120
Long Beach 1620 $110,120
San Francisco 810 $107,830
Oakland 810 $107,830
Hayward 810 $107,830
San Diego 700 $102,120
Carlsbad 700 $102,120
Ontario 430 $84,980
San Bernardino 430 $84,980
Riverside 430 $84,980
Arden 430 $113,600
Arcade 430 $113,600
Roseville 430 $113,600
Sacramento 430 $113,600
Santa Clara 300 $118,950
Sunnyvale 300 $118,950
San Jose 300 $118,950
Santa Rosa 170 $112,290
Modesto 140 $103,190
Stockton 110 $91,110
Lodi 110 $91,110
Fairfield 100 $91,030
Vallejo 100 $91,030
Paso Robles 90 $59,830
San Luis Obispo 90 $59,830
Arroyo Grande 90 $59,830
Fresno 90 $92,360
Watsonville 80 $107,010
Santa Cruz 80 $107,010
Salinas 80 $112,400
Porterville 70 $71,740
Visalia 70 $71,740
Bakersfield 60 $76,440
Chico 60 $77,190
Redding 60 $93,110
Santa Barbara N/A $112,090
Santa Maria N/A $112,090
Oxnard N/A $172,950
Ventura N/A $172,950
Thousand Oaks N/A $172,950
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Denver 1030 $78,810
Aurora 1030 $78,810
Lakewood 1030 $78,810
Fort Collins 220 $73,130
Colorado Springs 210 $75,170
Boulder 100 $69,780
Greeley 90 $72,080
Grand Junction 50 $88,700
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 270 $107,290
East Hartford 270 $107,290
West Hartford 270 $107,290
Stamford 220 $123,570
Bridgeport 220 $123,570
Norwalk 220 $123,570
New Haven 140 $109,550
Danbury 50 $102,980
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 40 $77,800
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 830 $99,250
Miami 830 $99,250
Fort Lauderdale 830 $99,250
St. Petersburg 620 $99,390
Clearwater 620 $99,390
Tampa 620 $99,390
Sanford 390 $87,340
Orlando 390 $87,340
Kissimmee 390 $87,340
Jacksonville 190 $90,110
North Port 170 $64,130
Bradenton 170 $64,130
Sarasota 170 $64,130
Cape Coral 140 $78,670
Fort Myers 140 $78,670
Ocala 130 $72,160
Port St. Lucie 110 $78,060
Tallahassee 100 $88,230
Gainesville 100 $89,490
Lakeland 100 $115,820
Winter Haven 100 $115,820
Daytona Beach 90 $75,280
Ormond Beach 90 $75,280
Deltona 90 $75,280
Brent 90 $90,280
Pensacola 90 $90,280
Ferry Pass 90 $90,280
Palm Bay 90 $106,010
Titusville 90 $106,010
Melbourne 90 $106,010
Destin 50 $74,370
Fort Walton Beach 50 $74,370
Crestview 50 $74,370
Naples 40 $81,950
Immokalee 40 $81,950
Marco Island 40 $81,950
Vero Beach 30 $93,700
Sebastian 30 $93,700
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 1120 $84,550
Atlanta 1120 $84,550
Roswell 1120 $84,550
Savannah 110 $77,960
Clarke County 100 $59,420
Athens 100 $59,420
Macon 40 $73,860
Gainesville 40 $85,270
Brunswick 30 $125,660
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lahaina 60 N/A
Wailuku 60 N/A
Kahului 60 N/A
Urban Honolulu N/A N/A
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 210 $89,680
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 90 $87,680
Springfield 50 $74,030
Urbana 50 $89,710
Champaign 50 $89,710
Bloomington 40 $76,380
Rockford 40 $91,400
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 390 $77,110
Carmel 390 $77,110
Indianapolis 390 $77,110
Fort Wayne 80 $84,660
Goshen 40 $100,750
Elkhart 40 $100,750
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 290 $79,740
Des Moines 290 $79,740
Ames 90 $90,890
Iowa City 50 $66,500
Cedar Rapids 50 $93,010
Dubuque 30 $51,160
Cedar Falls 30 $76,190
Waterloo 30 $76,190
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 130 N/A
Topeka 70 $69,540
Lawrence 30 $69,840
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 280 $71,250
Lexington 280 $71,250
Bowling Green 60 N/A
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 300 $73,700
New Orleans 300 $73,700
Baton Rouge 90 $58,280
Lafayette 90 $95,100
Bossier City 50 $88,270
Shreveport 50 $88,270
Lake Charles 40 $76,930
Monroe 40 $90,510
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 110 $89,360
South Portland 110 $89,360
Bangor 30 $81,880
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 670 $100,410
Columbia 670 $100,410
Baltimore 670 $100,410
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 80 $118,690
Gardner 30 $119,740
Leominster 30 $119,740
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 940 $97,800
Detroit 940 $97,800
Warren 940 $97,800
Wyoming 230 $55,300
Grand Rapids 230 $55,300
Ann Arbor 110 N/A
Portage 90 $75,240
Kalamazoo 90 $75,240
Lansing 90 $95,770
East Lansing 90 $95,770
Flint 80 $77,920
Jackson 40 $110,640
Monroe N/A $101,280
Saginaw N/A $104,020
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 70 $84,220
St. Cloud 50 $88,870
North Mankato 40 $75,370
Mankato 40 $75,370
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 100 $83,910
Hattiesburg 50 $73,440
Pascagoula 50 $86,160
Biloxi 50 $86,160
Gulfport 50 $86,160
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 100 $98,640
Columbia 50 $72,080
Jefferson City 40 $64,510
Joplin 30 N/A
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 70 $84,220
Missoula 40 $82,940
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 90 $78,000
Grand Island 40 $137,320
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 370 $93,810
Henderson 370 $93,810
Las Vegas 370 $93,810
Reno N/A $73,060
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 60 $99,350
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 60 $113,720
Hammonton 40 $125,500
Atlantic City 40 $125,500
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 220 $85,890
Las Cruces 40 $74,670
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 240 $83,390
Albany 170 $107,550
Troy 170 $107,550
Schenectady 170 $107,550
Syracuse 160 $105,630
Niagara Falls 130 $103,110
Cheektowaga 130 $103,110
Buffalo 130 $103,110
Ithaca 50 $89,470
Rome 50 $95,180
Utica 50 $95,180
Kingston 50 $114,600
Binghamton 40 $89,120
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 640 $83,430
High Point 260 $75,590
Greensboro 260 $75,590
Chapel Hill 200 $108,830
Durham 200 $108,830
Asheville 160 $107,100
Winston 110 $76,860
Salem 110 $76,860
Wilmington 100 $87,690
Morganton 90 $78,830
Hickory 90 $78,830
Lenoir 90 $78,830
Fayetteville 70 $91,360
Burlington 40 $74,740
Jacksonville 40 $84,690
Greenville 40 $90,200
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 40 $75,960
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 590 $87,660
Elyria 510 $57,620
Cleveland 510 $57,620
Dayton 180 $89,990
Toledo 160 $109,410
Canton 80 $93,500
Massillon 80 $93,500
Akron N/A $87,110
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 300 $87,700
Tulsa 190 N/A
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 100 $96,790
Eugene 80 $73,760
Bend 70 $79,010
Redmond 70 $79,010
Medford 60 $88,170
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 490 $92,460
Harrisburg 120 $105,480
Carlisle 120 $105,480
Reading 110 $142,770
Wilkes 100 $84,460
Barre 100 $84,460
Hazleton 100 $84,460
Scranton 100 $84,460
Lancaster 80 $103,010
Hanover 70 $127,580
York 70 $127,580
State College 50 $91,960
Erie 50 $119,290
East Stroudsburg 40 N/A
Lebanon 40 $93,380
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 80 $63,400
Carolina 80 $63,400
San Juan 80 $63,400
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 350 $88,120
Greenville 150 $89,640
Mauldin 150 $89,640
Anderson 150 $89,640
Charleston 110 $103,090
North Charleston 110 $103,090
Spartanburg 30 $113,220
Bluffton N/A $75,500
Hilton Head Island N/A $75,500
Beaufort N/A $75,500
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 60 $69,740
Rapid City 40 $64,520
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 390 $77,970
Murfreesboro 390 $77,970
Davidson 390 $77,970
Nashville 390 $77,970
Knoxville 200 $80,210
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Arlington 1230 $97,370
Fort Worth 1230 $97,370
Dallas 1230 $97,370
Houston 740 $94,970
Sugar Land 740 $94,970
The Woodlands 740 $94,970
Round Rock 520 $98,910
Austin 520 $98,910
New Braunfels 460 $103,520
San Antonio 460 $103,520
College Station 110 $55,590
Bryan 110 $55,590
Corpus Christi 110 $104,940
Killeen 80 $115,900
Temple 80 $115,900
El Paso 70 $89,070
Lubbock 60 $84,450
Port Arthur 60 $102,080
Beaumont 60 $102,080
Amarillo 50 $86,890
Tyler 40 $90,260
Mission 30 N/A
McAllen 30 N/A
Edinburg 30 N/A
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 150 $84,900
Clearfield 90 $108,280
Ogden 90 $108,280
Provo 60 $84,890
Orem 60 $84,890
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 90 $93,610
Burlington 90 $93,610
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 380 $90,410
Roanoke 100 $108,760
Charlottesville 80 $80,810
Lynchburg 70 N/A
Staunton 50 $76,620
Waynesboro 50 $76,620
Harrisonburg 50 $91,260
Christiansburg 40 $87,090
Blacksburg 40 $87,090
Radford 40 $87,090
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tacoma 860 $90,350
Seattle 860 $90,350
Bellevue 860 $90,350
Spokane 130 $104,970
Spokane Valley 130 $104,970
Tumwater 80 $76,770
Olympia 80 $76,770
Silverdale 60 $76,630
Bremerton 60 $76,630
Richland 50 $92,450
Kennewick 50 $92,450
Mount Vernon 40 $82,830
Anacortes 40 $82,830
Bellingham 30 $92,950
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 40 $86,000
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Milwaukee 410 $106,160
Waukesha 410 $106,160
West Allis 410 $106,160
Madison 210 $74,360
Green Bay 60 $75,440
Appleton 50 $71,380
Neenah 50 $78,190
Oshkosh 50 $78,190
Eau Claire 40 $69,190
Janesville 40 $103,860
Beloit 40 $103,860
Wausau 30 $71,530
Sheboygan 30 $87,120

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Veterinarians

To find out more about building a career as Veterinarians, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Veterinarians

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 49,080 92% $79,320
Government 1,990 3% $76,750
Education 640 1% $71,820
Non-profit 560 1% $78,590
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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