If you love animals, you may find that veterinarian school is just what the doctor ordered. However, be prepared to engage in some serious science. Veterinarian school can be challenging.
Before treating a single animal, veterinarians must graduate with a diploma that says "Doctor of Veterinary Medicine." This is a four-year degree and the college attended must be accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
In order to gain admittance to that four-year program, you must either already have a bachelor's degree or possess significant work experience in the veterinary field. Different veterinarian schools have different admission requirements. All veterinarians must be licensed by their state before practicing. If you'd like to work in veterinary medicine, but aren't interested spending that long in school, consider a position as a veterinary technician or technologist. These careers typically require two- and four-year degrees, respectively, for entry-level positions.
Working veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary technologists commonly pursue further training and classes while working in their field.
About 75 percent of veterinarians are self-employed, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Often, veterinarians form a group practice or work purely on their own as business owners. Such self-sufficient practices also provide jobs for vet techs who work under licensed veterinarians.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth in the field at a sizable 35 percent from 2006 to 2016. The fact that veterinarian schools are not as plentiful as schools for more mainstream occupations means that those who do gain the proper training have a strong position in the job market. As of 2006, 62,000 people worked as veterinarians.
According to the BLS, the median annual earnings of a veterinarian tallied $79,050 in May of 2008. The top ten percent of veterinarians earned $143,660. Advanced training such as masters and PhD degrees may provide the best chances to earn at the upper end of that scale. In the same year, veterinary technicians and technologists earned $28,900.