Veterinary - Career Information

Veterinary picture    Veterinary image

Students who love animals may enjoy a career providing them with basic care, either in a private veterinarian's office, laboratory, educational, or nonfarm setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall demand for animal care is expected to surge in the coming decades as more people seek professional help to care for their pets, laboratory animals, and service animals.

Although tasks performed by veterinary workers vary, many of the jobs performed by these workers are similar and may include the following:

  • Feeding, bathing, and providing first aid to animals.
  • Creating and following diet plans that ensure animals receive the nutrition they need.
  • Administering first aid and medicine to animals in their care.
  • Performing laboratory tests and taking specimens for further examination.
  • Taking X-rays and diagnosing an animal's medical condition.
  • Restraining animals during procedures or inspections.
  • Recommending specific types of care for animals and pets.

Top Veterinary Careers (BLS, 2013)

CareerNumber of Workers Nationally in 2013Job DescriptionDegree Requirements
Nonfarm Animal Caretakers190,600 (2012)Nonfarm animal caretakers provide animals with basic needs. They feed them, groom them, and make sure they are receiving adequate exercise. They may also perform additional tasks under the supervision of a veterinarian, veterinary technologist, or veterinary technician.Nonfarm animal caretakers are not required to have any postsecondary education, according to the BLS. However, candidates with a high school diploma may experience an increase in job prospects.
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians87,870Veterinary technologists and technicians provide first aid and medical care to sick or injured animals. They administer anesthesia, take and develop X-rays, and assist animals as they recover from their conditions.According to the BLS, most veterinary technologists earn a Bachelor's degree in Veterinary Technology. Meanwhile, most veterinary technicians pursue Associate degrees.
Veterinarians59,230Veterinarians perform life-saving procedures on animals in their care. They inspect animals and diagnose various illnesses and injuries, recommend treatment plans, and prescribe medicines.Veterinarians are required to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary school, according to the BLS.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers71,800Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers provide a wide range of hands-on care to animals housed where they work. They bathe, feed, and administer medicines to animals. They may also clean and disinfect cages and equipment used for surgeries and procedures.The BLS reports that most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal care takers earn a high school diploma and lean their skills on-the-job.

Veterinary Career Education

Working with animals requires a love of living creatures big and small. However, certain educational requirements are in place for students who hope to gain employment in several veterinary careers. The following table uses BLS data to outline the different degree options in this field and what kind of career they may help you qualify for:

Degree TypeTimeline for CompletionPossible Careers
AssociateAssociate degrees can typically be completed with two years of full-time study. However, programs completed on a part-time basis may take longer.Veterinary Technicians
Bachelor'sBachelor's degree programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.Veterinary Technologists
Graduate, Professional, or Doctoral DegreeStudents can earn a graduate, professional, or doctoral degree in 1-5 years after earning a Bachelor's degree.Veterinarians


"Bureau of Labor Statistics," May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Veterinarians,

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians,

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Animal Care and Service Workers,

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers,

Schools for Veterinary are listed in the column to the left.

Careers and Salary Data

This table shows summary data on occupations in the US. Clicking on any occupation name brings you to a page showing job prospects and salaries for that occupation in hundreds of metro areas across the country, with data updated through 2022.(Where data is denoted by an asterisk (*), summary info was not available.

Click each Occupation title for more details.


Median Pay
% Growth
Nonfarm Animal Caretakers212,450    $24,780    16.0%
Veterinarians74,540    $95,460    18.4%
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers97,030    $28,590    19.1%
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians110,650    $35,320    19.3%
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Selected Schools for Veterinary (including any online schools)

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