Some people may think becoming a doctor is the most rewarding job there is, but I would have to argue that veterinarian jobs are the most rewarding.
After all, animals offer unconditional love, affection, and company, and they are the best of all patients because they don’t talk back!
The choice to become a veterinarian, however, should not be made lightly. As with other medical professions, veterinarian training requires years of schooling and a strong affinity and adeptness in the sciences. So, if you hated biology in school, this probably isn’t the best choice for you.
There are close to 30 schools in the United States that meet accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA); all of them require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college as a prerequisite, as well as the passing of one of the standardized tests often required for specialized medical schools.
Once you’ve earned your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.), you must decide which state(s) you wish to practice veterinary medicine in, then acquire that state’s license, which, you guessed it, requires passing a state-required exam. When the exam is passed and your license is in hand, you have the choice of joining a private clinical practice or continuing on with education in the form of an internship or residency at a veterinary college or veterinary practice.
For veterinarians who have their sights set on specializing in a field such as surgery, radiology, or ophthalmology, a two- to five-year residency is also required.
Even once a veterinarian has secured a job and settled into his or her career, it’s imperative to stay abreast of new technology, studies, techniques and advances in animal-related medicine via scientific journals, professional conferences and seminars. Plus, according to AVMA, about half of the states that issue veterinary licenses require those veterinarians to attend continuing education courses to keep their licenses current.
AVMA statistics show that 50 percent of veterinarians are self-employed in private practice, and three out of four veterinarians work solo or in a group setting. The remaining veterinarians work for the government, schools or colleges. Of those in private practice, about 70 percent treat small animals only (pets of the companion variety, such as dogs and cats, as well as birds, reptiles and the like). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics records indicate 1,370 civilian veterinarians are employed by the Federal Government, most in the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security.
Long hours are not a thing of the past after veterinary school, either. Veterinarians, especially those in solo or busy group practices, typically work long hours and are also often on-call nights and weekends. However, with that time commitment comes (usually) a nice salary.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for veterinarians is approximately $84,460, with the lowest salary in the low $50,000s and the highest in the mid $140,000s. For those who chose to work in the federal government, the salary average is approximately $90,000.