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Careers in Veterinary Medicine


For those who love animals and are interested in helping to improve healthcare for them, it may be worthwhile to consider a job in veterinary medicine. While traditional veterinarians are still needed, there are a variety of fulfilling careers to explore within the field of animal healthcare.

Traditional Veterinarian
Those who pursue the traditional path of veterinary medicine often work in a private or group practice where they strive to provide quality healthcare to all types of domestic animals. They might work individually or join a group practice, and they often choose to work in association with a zoo or shelter. Educational requirements include four years of undergraduate study, four years of veterinary school and two optional years of specialized study. While the competition for acceptance letters to veterinary schools remains fierce, the demand for veterinarians continues to grow as pet-ownership increases. Veterinarians generally earn between $50,000 and $140,000 annually, depending on the socioeconomic status of their location.

Veterinary Technician or Technologist
These specialists perform diagnostic tests and assist in the care of animals while working alongside veterinarians. They may work in veterinary practices, animal hospitals or research centers. While technicians must complete a two-year educational program, technologists are required to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree. On average, technicians and technologists earn about $30,000 per year, and the demand for technicians and technologists continues to increase along with the demand for veterinarians.

Veterinary Pathologist
Veterinary pathologists specialize in diagnosing animal diseases. They often work in laboratory settings where they study animal tissues and determine causes of illness. They may also conduct research and work to develop drugs that fight certain animal diseases. The educational pathway to becoming a veterinary pathologist is lengthy but rewarding. After finishing four years of undergraduate study and four years of veterinary medical school, they must complete an additional three years of training and pass a certification exam. Salaries for veterinary pathologists usually begin at about $100,000, and some experienced pathologists may earn up to $200,000 annually. The job outlook for veterinary pathologists is superb as the field of healthcare research continues to expand.

Veterinary Educator
For those who enjoy teaching and guiding the next generation of veterinary professionals, a career as a professor at an undergraduate school or at a college of veterinary medicine might be the ideal option. Professors work primarily with students but may also work with animals when teaching clinical care. They are expected to be fully trained and licensed veterinarians and are often required to have extensive research experience. Professors at schools of veterinary medicine earn approximately $100,000 per year, and moderate growth in the field of veterinary education is expected.

Clinic Manager
Managers are often hired to keep veterinary clinics and hospitals running in an efficient and organized fashion. While educational requirements vary, veterinary managers are usually expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to human resources or business management. Some schools offer certification programs specifically designed for veterinary management. Veterinary managers usually earn between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, but salaries vary significantly by size and location of the institution being managed. As the overall need for veterinarians continues to grow, the job outlook also remains positive for veterinary managers.

Erica Anderson is a veterinary technician and mother of two and writer from Tucson, Arizona.

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