Login
Copyright

Veterinary Pathologist: Job Description and Education Requirements

Becoming a veterinary pathologist requires a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Veterinary pathologists attempt to learn more about the treatment and prevention of disease through animal research. They need to have a postdoctoral degree in anatomical or clinical pathology and typically must earn veterinary licensure in order to work.

Essential Information

Veterinary pathologists perform research on animals in the pursuit of preventing, diagnosing and treating disease. Prospective veterinary pathologists must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) or a Veterinaria Medicina Doctoris (VMD) before entering a required postdoctoral degree program in anatomical or clinical pathology. Once finished with postdoctoral studies, veterinary pathologists may choose to become certified through the American College of Veterinary Pathology.

Required Education Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, postdoctoral degree in anatomical or clinical pathology
Other Requirements Licensure required except for those employed by some federal and state agencies; certification voluntary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% increase (all veterinarians)*
Median Salary (2015) $88,490 (all veterinarians); $128,530 (veterinarians working in scientific research and development)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Veterinary Pathologists

Aspiring veterinary pathologists must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) or a Veterinaria Medicina Doctoris (VMD). Interested students might begin working with animals and taking science and math courses as early as junior high school and may further prepare by earning a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as animal science or premedical studies.

Upon finishing a doctoral program in veterinary medicine, prospective veterinary pathologists should complete a postdoctoral degree program in anatomical or clinical pathology at a veterinary research facility or teaching hospital. These programs, which generally include a residency experience, usually take a minimum of three years to complete and might lead to a master's or doctoral degree. Typically, Ph.D. programs in anatomical or clinical pathology require students to write a dissertation, whereas master's programs and residencies typically do not. Students might conduct research in pulmonary, reproductive, cardiovascular, immune or nervous system pathology. They also might explore cancer biology, viral pathogenesis, infectious diseases or toxicological pathology.

Certification and Licensure Requirements for Veterinary Pathologists

The American College of Veterinary Pathology offers voluntary certification in anatomic or clinical pathology. Practicing veterinarians who have completed a minimum of three years of clinical training in veterinary pathology are eligible to sit for these exams, which might cover topics like necropsy and surgical pathology for anatomic pathologists or cytology, clinical biochemistry and hematology for clinical pathologists.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all veterinarians, including veterinary pathologists, must be licensed, with the exception of employees in certain federal and state agencies. Licensure requirements vary by state but often include an exam that's specific to state regulations.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Although the BLS does not provide information specific to veterinary pathologists, it did report in May 2015 that the median annual salary earned by all veterinarians was $88,490. Those working in scientific research and development settings earned a salary averaging $128,530 a year at that time. Job opportunities for veterinarians are expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS, which is faster than average.

Those interested in becoming veterinary pathologists will need to earn a D.V.M. or a VMD followed by completing a postdoctoral program in anatomical or clinical pathology. They also need to earn licensure through their intended states of practice and might consider earning optional certification through the American College of Veterinary Pathology for increased credibility.

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools