Horse Veterinarian: Job Description & Career Info

Mar 24, 2019

Also known as equine veterinarians, these doctors work with horse breeders, ranchers, competitive horse owners and others to treat and protect the welfare of horses. Learn about the education requirements, skills involved, salary and employment outlook to see if this is a profession you wish to pursue.

Career Definition for a Horse Veterinarian

Horse veterinarians provide vaccinations, treat injuries, diagnose and treat diseases and perform surgery on horses. Veterinarians for horses typically visit the animals at farms and ranches rather than having them brought into their offices. They frequently have had experience working with horses for most of their lives. Horse veterinarians are often consulted by horse owners on topics such as diet, stabling, improving performance and breeding.

Education Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree
Job Skills Strong ethics, concern for animal welfare, marketing and business skills
Median Salary (2017)* $90,420 (all veterinarians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 19% growth (all veterinarians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Becoming a horse veterinarian first requires a bachelor's degree with coursework in chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, zoology, calculus and statistics. Students then take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Medicine Admission Test (MCAT) and submit their scores to compete for spots in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programs. These graduate programs typically take four years to complete, after which horse veterinarians complete board-certification exams to earn licenses, frequently followed by one-year internships.

Skills Required

The American Association of Equine Practitioners,, describes horse veterinarians as responsible for guarding the welfare of horses and upholding ethical practices, especially concerning animals in competitions. A career in horse veterinary medicine requires marketing and business skills in order to successfully run and promote a private practice.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that job opportunities for all veterinarians, including horse veterinarians, will grow 19% from 2016-2026. An increase in graduates from veterinary schools has resulted in greater competition for employment. The median annual salary for veterinarians, including horse veterinarians, was $90,420 in 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker

With only high school diplomas and on-the-job training, these assistants and caretakers look after nonfarm animals in animal hospitals, clinics and laboratories. They report to veterinarians, scientists, veterinary technicians or veterinary technologists. The BLS predicted much faster than average employment growth of 19% for these workers, from 2016-2026. In 2017, their median annual salary was $26,140, per the BLS.

Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist

A bachelor's degree is required to enter this profession, and a master's degree might be needed to advance within the field. These professionals study the habitats and characteristics of various types of animals. From 2016-2026, the BLS expected average job growth of 8% for zoologists and wildlife biologists. According to the BLS, they earned an annual median wage of $62,290 in 2017.

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