October 23, 2008

Spotlight on Veterinary Jobs

I promised last week that as long as this recession lasts (anyone see an end in sight?), I’d do my best to focus on relatively recession-proof careers.

This week, we’re looking at jobs in the filed of veterinary medicine, including veterinarians, technicians and researchers.

Now keep in mind, there are definitely some professions that are more stable than others.  But during a major economic recession, any job (except for maybe those in the military) can be vulnerable.  That’s where the veterinary field falls.

As with other medical professions, there is a steady need for care for pets and large animals (including farm, zoo and horses). Except in the event of extreme financial distress, people keep their pets and continue to provide them palliative medical care (even when preventative care rates may drop in the face of personal budget cuts.)

Here’s a look at some of the major careers within the field of veterinary medicine and the education/experience requirements for each one.

Job Description
The job of a veterinarian it to prevent, control and cure animal diseases. Most diagnose prescribe treatment, which may include surgery, medication or therapy. About half of all U.S. veterinarians work in private practice, primarily providing care to household pets.  The other half of veterinarians works at research institutions, universities or government agencies.

A veterinarian is a medical profession, who holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) and is licensed in the state in which he/she practices. In addition to four years of veterinary school (which follows four years of Bachelors Degre), many veterinarians also spend two to five years in residency, where they can specialize in surgery, radiology or ophthalmology, for example. Once licensed to practice, veterinarians must stay abreast of new technologies and techniques, by reading scientific journals and attending professional conferences.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median veterinarian salary in 2006 was $71,990. The range is from the low $40,000s to the mid $130,000s.

Veterinary Technicians & Technologists
Job Description
Veterinary technicians and technologists assist veterinarians in a variety of duties including surgeries, medication administration, wound cleaning, nail trimming, assessing vital health information, and grooming.

In 2006, there were 71,000 veterinary technologists and technicians working in the United State, of which 91 percent worked in veterinary services.

The most common degree for entry-level veterinary technicians is a 2-year associate degree from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited community college program.

Courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. There are also 18 colleges in the U.S. that offer four-year, Bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary technology. Upon graduation from an accredited veterinary program, students must take the credentialing exam in their state.

The salary of veterinary technologist or technician depends on one’s degree (AA vs. BA) and his or her years of experience. The median hourly way in May 2006 was $12.88/hour. Top earners pulled in more than $18.68/hour.

If you are interested in learning more about veterinary medicine or other jobs working with animals, here are some resources you will want to check out:

>> JobMonkey’s Jobs with Animals section, which includes articles on veterinarian jobs, alternative veterinary medicine, and research veterinarians

>> Is the Veterinary Industry Recession-Proof @ DVM360.com, the leading on-line site for veterinary medicine

>> Veterinary Career Center @ AVMA. The The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is a 120-year old, not-for-profit association representing more than 76,000 veterinarians.

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