Veterinarian Job Description

veterinarian receives affection from large dog

Veterinarian receiving affection from shepherd

Veterinarian Job Description: Veterinarians or doctors of veterinary medicine diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries of pets, such as dogs and cats, and farm animals, such as cattle or sheep: The veterinarian examines the animal to determine nature of disease or injury and treats the animal surgically or medically. A veterinarian tests dairy herds, horses, sheep, and other animals for diseases and inoculates animals against rabies, brucellosis, and other disorders. They advise animal owners about sanitary measures, feeding, and general care to promote health of animals.

Other aspects of the Veterinarian job description are research, teaching, or production of commercial products. Some Veterinarian's specialize in prevention and control of communicable animal diseases and can be designated Veterinarian, Public Health (medical service). Some Veterinarian's specialize in diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases, using roentgen rays and radioactive substances, and may be designated as a Veterinary Radiologist (medical service).

Veterinarians often work with public health agencies to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and outbreaks of food contamination.

Working Conditions

Veterinarians in private or clinical practice often work long hours in a noisy indoor environment. Sometimes they have to deal with emotional or demanding pet owners. When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, or scratched.

Veterinarians in large-animal practice spend time driving between their office and farms or ranches. They work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to treat animals or perform surgery, under unsanitary conditions.

Veterinarians working in nonclinical areas, such as public health and research, have working conditions similar to those of other professionals in those lines of work. These veterinarians enjoy clean, well-lit offices or laboratories and spend much of their time dealing with people rather than animals.

Veterinarians often work long hours. Those in group practices may take turns being on call for evening, night, or weekend work; solo practitioners may work extended and weekend hours, responding to emergencies or squeezing in unexpected appointments.


Training and Qualifications -to be a Veterinarian

Like physicians, candidates who wish to become doctors of veterinary medicine must complete the equivalent of 4 years of pre-veterinary education and then attend a 4 year college of veterinary medicine. The prerequisites include biology, chemistry, animal nutrition, zoology and other college courses.

While not required many veterinarian's also attend a 1-2 year internship as a way to gain experience and knowledge after graduation. Veterinarian's who wish to specialize and become board certified must attend a 3-4 year internship and specialized study.

Admission to Veterinary school is very competitive. Successful candidates usually apply to more than 2 schools.

Licensing and Credentialing

All 50 states require some form of licensure to practice as a Veterinarian. The usual process requires:

  1. graduation from an accredited school of veterinary medicine
  2. Successful completion of a national veterinary medicine exam
  3. apply for licensure in the state you will practice in.

Important Points for the Veterinarian Job Description

Animal lovers get satisfaction from this occupation, but aspects of the work can be unpleasant, physically and emotionally demanding, and sometimes dangerous.

Entrants generally complete a 2-year or 4-year veterinary technology program and must pass a State examination.

Employment is expected to grow much faster than average.

Overall job opportunities should be excellent; however, keen competition is expected for jobs in zoos and aquariums.

Nearly all States have continuing education requirements for licensed veterinarians. Requirements differ by state and may involve attending a class or otherwise demonstrating knowledge of recent medical and veterinary advances




Career Progression

Most veterinarians begin as employees in established group practices. Despite the substantial financial investment in equipment, office space, and staff, many veterinarians with experience eventually set up their own practice or purchase an established one.

Newly trained veterinarians can become U.S. Government meat and poultry inspectors, disease-control workers, animal welfare and safety workers, epidemiologists, research assistants, or commissioned officers in the U.S. Public Health Service or various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. A state license may be required.

Resources for Veterinarian Job Description

Veterinarians: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

American Veterinary Medical Association


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