Veterinary programs take an average of four years to complete. In addition to comprehensive lectures, students participate in about three semesters of clinical rotations at actual animal health facilities. Students should look for veterinary schools accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
For admission to veterinary school, students typically need to complete a bachelor's degree program with specific prerequisite coursework, including general biology, genetics, microbiology, zoology and animal nutrition, among others.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Students begin by learning about the anatomy and physiology of the animal body. Studies continue with an exploration of common animal diseases, diagnostic procedures, radiology and imaging technology, animal pharmacology, physical examination procedures, preventive medicine techniques and skills for communicating with animal owners. Students enrolled in DVM programs are also required to complete seminar courses covering animal health and science. Some of these include:
- Animal anatomy
- Human-animal relationships
- Diagnostic microbiology
- Veterinary anesthesia
- Diagnostic imaging procedures
- Large and small animal surgery
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Veterinarians can specialize in several fields, including small animals, large animals, equine veterinary science and agricultural veterinary science. Veterinarians held about 84,500 jobs in the United States in 2018, as reported by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for the profession in 2018 was $93,830 with an expected 18% increase in employment between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average compared to other occupations.
Gaining licensure is an absolute requirement for veterinarians in the United States. Each state has its own requirements for gaining certification, but each state does require aspiring veterinarians to successfully complete a DVM program. Many states utilize the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam as a means of granting certification in the field.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programs prepare students for professional licensure through a combination of coursework and hands-on experience in animal medicine, anatomy, treatment, and law. Graduates are qualified to sit for the veterinarian licensing exam.