University of Vermont

Veterinary Medicine

Dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of animals
Types of Careers

1.  Private Practice

The majority of veterinary positions are in private practice.  Private Practitioners provide health care for all species of animals.  Some Veterinarians limit their practices to certain species of animals.

Companion animal practice:  treatment of diseases of pets such as dogs, cats and horses.

Food animal practice:  treatment of diseases of livestock such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens.
Image of gorilla Exotic animal practice:  treatment of diseases in animals such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and pocket pets (mice, hamsters, gerbils, etc.)

Specialty practices: Birds only, Cats only, Equine only, etc.

Veterinarians may also receive additional training in a specialized area of medicine.  

Specialization within Veterinary Practices
(Board Certification)

Anesthesiology:  The science of anesthetizing animals for surgical procedures.

Animal Behavior:  The study of animal behavior in their environment.

Clinical Pharmacology:  The science of drugs, their actions and drug therapy for animal diseases.

Dentistry:  The prevention and treatment of diseases of the teeth and oral cavity.

Dermatology:  The study of animal skin diseases.

Emergency and Critical Care:  The art of treating animal emergencies.

Internal Medicine:  The study of internal diseases; diagnosis and treatment.

Laboratory Animal Medicine:  The study of disease prevention and treatment in research animals.

Microbiology:  The science of disease-causing  organisms.

Image of a cow. Nutrition:  Many Veterinarians specialize in the nutritional needs of animals.

Ophthalmology:  The study of eye diseases and ocular conditions in animals.

Pathology:  The study of the nature of disease.

Poultry Medicine:  A few Veterinarians only work with poultry.

Private Practice:  Specializing in private practice.

Preventive Medicine:  The science of disease prevention.

Radiology:  A study of x-rays and radioactive substances in disease diagnosis and treatment.

Surgery:  Additional experience in the art of surgery is mastered by some veterinarians.
Theriogenology :  The study of animal reproduction, diseases and animal breeding.

Toxicology: The science of poisons, chemicals, etc.

Zoological Medicine:  The study of “Zoo” animals.

2.  Government Practice

Military and non-military positions  are available.

Public Health:  These Veterinarians monitor communicable diseases between animals and humans.  They may work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Wildlife Medicine:  These professionals work with Fish and Wildlife Service or private organizations in monitoring and maintaining the health of wild animals.

Image of a dog. Food Inspection and Safety:  Veterinarians may work with the Animal and Plant Inspection Service and the military veterinary corps in monitoring the quality of food products.

Animal Importation:  Federal and state Veterinarians monitor the movement of animals from foreign countries into the United States and the transportation of livestock across state lines.

Food and Drug Administration:  Veterinarians also monitor the safety of all chemicals, foods, drugs, etc. that will be used by humans.

3.  Private Industry

Research:  Veterinarians are employed in all aspects of pharmaceutical, biotechnological and chemical research done to improve the health and well-being of animals and/or humans.

Image of a bird. Product Development and Sales:  Careers in product discovery, testing, advertising, marketing and sales are available for veterinarians.
Animal Training:  Working with the “Seeing-eye dog” program, animals in motion pictures, amusement parks, zoos, etc. is an exciting employment area for Veterinarians.

Zoological/Wildlife Medicine:  Zoos and wildlife parks also employ Veterinarians.

Marine Biology:  Some Veterinarians work with the aquatic mammals like whales and seals.

4.  Academia

Teaching: Many Veterinarians teach veterinary students, graduate students, other health-care professionals, animal scientists, biologists, etc.

Research:  Veterinarians also study the diseases that afflict both man and animals in an effort to discover new cures, treatments and preventatives.

These professionals also provide support for all aspects of veterinary medicine in Industry, Government and Private Practice.

What does it take to become a Veterinarian?
Image of a frog. Begin preparing for a career in veterinary medicine as soon as possible.  In high school, take lots of classes in areas such as science, math and English.  Try to gain experience working with animals at a nearby farm, at the humane society, through 4-H programs or in a veterinary practice.  Enter an undergraduate program that focuses on providing necessary prerequisite classes for veterinary college.  “Prevet” programs usually allow students to achieve degrees in either biological or animal sciences while gaining animal experience.  Concentrate on obtaining experience with as many different species of animals as possible during your college career.  Typically, at least 180 hours of animal-related experience are required to apply to “Vet School”.

Veterinary College

There are 28 Veterinary Schools in the United States and 19 international schools that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.  All schools provide the necessary education to fulfill your career goals.

In the United States each year approximately 2,000 veterinarians graduate from the 28 accredited schools of veterinary medicine. High academic records and lots of animal experience are necessary for admission.

To become a practicing Doctor of Veterinary Medicine requires the completion of a 4-year Veterinary Professional Program, and the passing of national and state board exams.

Additional specialization takes additional years of college.

So, how long does it take?

Image of a bear. After completing high school, you will have to meet all prerequisite requirements while in an undergraduate college program.  This usually takes 4 years.  Once admitted into Veterinary College, you will have to go another 4 years.  If you then decide to specialize, you will have to spend another 3 to 5 years (or longer) in college.  The average Veterinarian completed 8 years of college.  Specialists, Ph.D.’s, and Academicians will have completed 11 to 15 years of college.  You will probably be between 26 and 30 years old when you graduate and start your new career.

What are salaries like in Veterinary Medicine?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the median entry-level salary for first-year practitioners in 2014 was $67,000, but veterinary medicine salaries can vary greatly, depending on type of medical practice and location.

What are the job outlooks?

Veterinary professionals continue to be in demand because of the diversity of types of jobs that Veterinarians are qualified to do.  Increases in pet ownership, escalation of population and food needs, and establishment of programs to save endangered species are but a few of the potential areas that will be filled by Veterinarians well into the 21st century.
Office of Animal Care Management, University of Vermont

Applying to Vet School
Additional Pre-Vet /Pre-Professional Info.
Possible Four-Year Program

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Last modified July 17 2015 11:51 AM

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