Veterinary Continuing Education Options and Requirements

Sep 16, 2019

Becoming a veterinarian requires a lot of schooling to begin with, but your education doesn't end once you begin practicing veterinary medicine. Most states require veterinarians to complete continuing education in order to maintain their license to practice. Requirements vary by state and can include coursework, research, seminars and article writing.

Essential Information

All veterinarians in the United States must be licensed to practice veterinary medicine, and most states require them to complete additional education to keep their veterinary licenses current. Continuing education requirements vary by state, and most requirements can be located on your state's website. Besides helping with licensure maintenance, continuing education can also give veterinarians a valuable edge in their field by training them in new specialties and advances in veterinary medicine. The table below outlines the requirements for earning and maintaining a veterinarian's license.

Required Education Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M) degree
Required Experience Residency is required for those pursuing specialty certification
Specialization Options There are over 40 different specializations for veterinarians, including surgery, microbiology, and internal medicine
Exam Requirements Passing score on the North American Veterinarian Licensing Examination plus any applicable state exams
Other Requirements To maintain licensure: completion of continuing education credits as mandated by the state
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 18% for all vets*
Median Salary (2018) $93,830 for all vets*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Veterinary Continuing Education Options

Veterinarians can expand their current practice through a number of continuing education options, which allow them the opportunity to develop new skills, learn about different animal species or get specialty training in areas such as disease or internal medicine. Continuing education also allows veterinarians to contribute to veterinary research, stay current with state regulations and keep abreast of new developments within the field.

Attending seminars, writing for veterinarian publications, conducting research or taking courses are all examples of continuing education options. Veterinarian organizations, local colleges and government agencies provide veterinarians with education opportunities.

Examples of Continuing Education by State

Almost every state in the United States has continuing education requirements for veterinarians. In most cases, a veterinarian must meet the continuing education requirements to keep their license valid. Continuing education credit is usually only given for certain types of education that have been approved by the state.

For example, in Indiana veterinarians must have 40 hours of continuing education through an approved method within each two-year licensing period, according to Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Approval for continuing education is based on content, materials, length and the qualifications of who is teaching the course.

According to the Idaho Board of Veterinary Medicine, the continuing education requirement for veterinarians in Idaho is completion of 20 hours of approved education for every two years after being licensed. The requirements in this state are rather specific: the state mandates 14 credit hours minimum of the training must be in medicine, surgery and dentistry, and only six credit hours may be in practice management. Veterinarians must file a report on their continuing education when renewing their license each year.

In Massachusetts, according to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, 15 units of continuing education are required for a licensed veterinarian in each licensing period. Requirements can be met through attending seminars, workshops or courses through an approved organization. Credit for the requirement may also be given for publishing written materials.

Veterinary Career and Salary Info

The field of veterinary medicine is expected to see a job growth rate of 18% between 2018 and 2028, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that as of May 2018, the median income of veterinarians was $93,830.

Continuing education can be time-consuming, but it offers many opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills, and may even allow you to offer new or improved services to your clients. Check with your state veterinary licensing organization to find out what the requirements are to maintain your license.

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