Jobs, Salaries and Career after Masters in Veterinary Medicine - Updated 2020

2018 median Pay for Veterinary Medicine

The median annual wage for veterinarians was $93,830 in May 2018.


Pay

Others travel to farms or work in settings such as laboratories, classrooms, or zoos. Veterinarians who treat horses or food animals travel between their offices and farms and ranches. They work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to perform surgery, often in remote locations. Veterinarians who work in food safety and inspection travel to farms, slaughterhouses, and food-processing plants to inspect the health of animals and to ensure that the facility follows safety protocols. The work can be emotionally stressful, as veterinarians care for abused animals, euthanize sick ones, and offer support to the animals’ anxious owners. Working on farms and ranches, in slaughterhouses, or with wildlife can also be physically demanding. Injuries and Illnesses When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, and scratched. In addition, veterinarians working with diseased animals risk being infected by the disease. Work Schedules Most veterinarians worked full time in 2016, often working more than 40 hours per week. Some work nights or weekends, and they may have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours.



Best paying jobs for Health and Wellness


Number of Jobs for Veterinary Medicine

Number of Jobs in 2018 was 79,600


Education required

Doctoral or professional degree


Job Outlook for Veterinary Medicine

Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Overall job prospects are expected to be very good.


Job description of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to protect public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.

Duties

Veterinarians typically do the following:

  • Examine animals to assess their health and diagnose problems
  • Treat and dress wounds
  • Perform surgery on animals
  • Test for and vaccinate against diseases
  • Operate medical equipment, such as x-ray machines
  • Advise animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments
  • Prescribe medication
  • Euthanize animals

Veterinarians treat the injuries and illnesses of pets and other animals with a variety of medical equipment, including surgical tools and x-ray and ultrasound machines. They provide treatment for animals that is similar to the services a physician provides to humans.

The following are examples of types of veterinarians:

Companion animal veterinarians treat pets and generally work in private clinics and hospitals. They most often care for cats and dogs, but they also treat other pets, such as birds, ferrets, and rabbits. These veterinarians diagnose and provide treatment for animal health problems; consult with animal owners about preventive healthcare; and carry out medical and surgical procedures, such as vaccinations, dental work, and setting fractures.

Food animal veterinarians work with farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep, which are raised to be food sources. They spend their time visiting farms and ranches to treat ill and injured animals and to test for and vaccinate against disease. They may advise farm owners or managers about feeding, housing, and general health practices.

Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect and test livestock and animal products for major animal diseases. They also provide vaccines to treat animals, enhance animal welfare, conduct research to improve animal health, and enforce government food safety regulations. They design and administer animal and public health programs to prevent and control diseases transmissible among animals and between animals and people.


How to become Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary college, as well as a state license.

Education

Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive. Most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, and animal science. Most programs also require math, humanities, and social science courses.

Some veterinary medical colleges prefer candidates to have experience such as previous work with veterinarians in clinics, or working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter.

In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Students typically spend the final year of the 4-year program doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Veterinarians must be licensed in order to practice in the United States. Licensing requirements vary by state, but prospective veterinarians in all states must complete an accredited veterinary program and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

In addition to passing the national exam, most states require that veterinarians pass a state licensing exam. However, veterinarians employed by state or federal government may not need a state license, because government agencies differ in what they require.

Each state’s exam covers its laws and regulations. Few states accept licenses from other states, so veterinarians usually must take exams for the states in which they want to be licensed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has an Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) certification program, which allows foreign graduates to fulfill the educational prerequisites for licensure. 

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Strong communication skills are essential for veterinarians, who must be able to discuss their recommendations and explain treatment options to animal owners and give instructions to their staff.

Compassion. Veterinarians must be compassionate when working with animals and their owners. They must treat animals with kindness and respect, and they must be sensitive when dealing with the animal owners.

Decision-making skills. Veterinarians must decide the correct method for treating the injuries and illnesses of animals.

Manual dexterity. Veterinarians must control their hand movements and be precise when treating injuries and performing surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Veterinarians need strong problem-solving skills because they must figure out what is ailing animals. Those who test animals to determine the effects of drug therapies also need excellent diagnostic skills.


What people in similar profession do

Job Title What they do How to become one
Chiropractic Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, as well as other clinical interventions, to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain. Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license. Doctor of Chiropractic programs typically take 4 years to complete and require at least 3 years of undergraduate college education for admission. Education Prospective chiropractors are required to have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree—a postgraduate professional degree that typically takes 4 years to complete. In 2017, there were 15 Doctor of Chiropractic programs on 18 campuses accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education. Admission to D.C. programs requires at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate education, and some D.C. programs require a bachelor’s degree for entry.
Dentistry Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health. Dentists must be licensed in the state(s) in which they work. Licensure requirements vary by state, although candidates usually must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams. Dentists who practice in a specialty area must complete postdoctoral training. Education All dental schools require applicants to have completed certain science courses, such as biology and chemistry, before entering dental school.
Veterinary Medicine Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to protect public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals. Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary college, as well as a state license. Education Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components. Admission to veterinary programs is competitive. Most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree.
Registered Nurse Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise. Education Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field.
Nursing Administration Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must direct changes that conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology. Most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field. However, master’s degrees are common and sometimes preferred by employers. Educational requirements vary by facility and specific function. Education Medical and health services managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation.
Nursing Practitioner Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise. Education Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field.
Nursing Science Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise. Education Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field.
Emergency Room and Trauma Nursing Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise. Education Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field.
Nursing Practice Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must direct changes that conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology. Most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field. However, master’s degrees are common and sometimes preferred by employers. Educational requirements vary by facility and specific function. Education Medical and health services managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation.

Job Outlook for other majors in Health and Wellness

Job Title Number of jobs Median Salary Job outlook
Chiropractic 47400 $71410 Faster than average
Dentistry 153500 $156240 Much faster than average
Registered Nurse 1314400 $78470 Much faster than average
Nursing Administration 352200 $99730 Much faster than average
Nursing Practitioner 1314400 $78470 Much faster than average
Nursing Practice 352200 $99730 Much faster than average