If you enjoy taking care of animals, you may find yourself asking, “How do I become a veterinarian?” Veterinarians are trained specialists in animal medicine and care. Some common tasks of veterinarians include doing regular health checkups on pets, examining an animal for diseases or performing a surgical procedure. A love of all animals and an interest in animal medicine are ideal traits in a good veterinarian.
If you become a veterinarian, each workday will bring new and interesting challenges. You will likely deal with new and recurring patients each day. Some days may be quiet with only routine examinations of cats and dogs. Other days may involve emergency care to save a farm animal’s life. Although much of your day involves the care of animals, veterinarians also need to deal with the human owners of each animal. This job is ideal for those who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and enjoy the challenge of unexpected events.
To become a veterinarian, you will need to attend college to earn a bachelor’s degree before attending veterinarian school. Ideal degrees include those that are closely related to animal medicine, including biology and biochemistry. Your college studies should reflect major fields of science that are crucial to animal medicine, including chemistry and genetics. After you have completed a college degree, you can apply to a veterinarian school. This process can be competitive, so having related work or volunteer experience can help you stand out. Each school will also require you to pass a standardized test.
After getting accepted to a veterinarian school, you will enter a vigorous program to teach you basic and advanced skills for animal care. The first two years of veterinarian school generally focus on education inside the classroom. The last two years concentrate on learning through experience by letting you and your classmates assist in treating animal patients. Many students will start to specialize in a particular field of study during the last two years.
Successful graduates are required to take a difficult licensing test to become a veterinarian. After passing the test, you are still expected to keep your education current and fresh. Veterinarians should regularly attend workshops and other educational events to learn about new diseases and technological advances in animal medicine.
There are many different job opportunities for veterinarians, including direct contact with animals and lab work. Many veterinarians focus on domestic pets such as cats, dogs and birds. Other veterinarians specialize in helping farm animals, rehabilitating injured wildlife, or assisting a zoo with exotic animal care. Some veterinarians work on disease and other research in labs. Newly licensed veterinarians can start their own practice or apply to work for an established practice. Specialized veterinarians can apply to work at zoos, farms or other animal centers.
If you become a veterinarian, you can expect to earn about $75,000 a year at a private practice. Every veterinarian’s salary depends on what field they specialize in. Veterinarians who run their own private practice may earn significantly more after establishing their practice. Running your own practice will grant you greater flexibility, but it can be more stressful than working for an established office.