If you like animals and science, you might want to be a veterinarian.
Veterinarians take care of sick and injured animals. Like doctors,
they perform surgery and give medicine.
When an animal is sick, vets examine it to find out why. They
look for clues in the way an animal looks, acts, and smells. For
example, if a dog is walking in a strange way, that might be because
it hurt its leg. Vets need to look carefully because animals can't
say what is wrong.
Vets also give blood tests, x-rays, and other tests, looking
for clues about an animal's illnesses. Then, vets decide what
kind of medicine the animal needs.
Vets prevent problems by giving vaccinations and check-ups and
fixing teeth. They also teach owners how to feed and train their
Vets use special tools to perform surgeries. They fix broken
bones, take out tumors, replace knees and hips, and more. Vets
also treat and cover wounds. They need to be ready to see blood,
organs, and bones.
Most vets treat small pets, including dogs, cats, and gerbils.
But a few focus on large animals, such as sheep, cows, and horses.
Large-animal vets usually drive to ranches and stables where their
patients live. They check for infections in the animals and give
advice to the animals' owners. Often, they help when the animals
A few vets work in zoos and aquariums. They care for zebras,
sharks, and other wild creatures.
In addition to helping sick animals, vets can work as animal
inspectors, checking to make sure that farm animals are healthy
and that their living spaces are clean. Another option for vets
is doing scientific research. They try to make new medicines.
Vets work in many different places. Vets who do research work
in clean, dry laboratories. Most vets who take care of animals
work in small clinics and hospitals. But some work in large hospitals
with the most advanced equipment.
Many vets supervise technicians and assistants. And many own
their own business and are their own boss.
Because animals can get sick at anytime, vets often work long
hours. Many take turns working weekends or evenings and dealing
Many vets like their work because they can be with animals every
day. But because some animals are scared or hurt, they sometimes
try to bite, kick, or scratch their vets.
Vets who work with large animals often work outside in all kinds
of weather. The work is sometimes dirty.
All veterinarians need to go to college. The first step for most
vets is to get a bachelor's degree, which usually takes 4 years.
They study biology, chemistry, physics, nutrition, and animal
science. They also need to take math and English classes. Many
people also get experience by working at animal hospitals or shelters.
The next step is to go to veterinary college for 4 more years.
Getting into vet college is competitive. Students who get in usually
have very good grades. After college, vets take a test and get
In veterinary college, students learn more science. They also
learn how to work with animals, do surgery, and do laboratory
tests with microscopes and other equipment.
Many people also decide to learn more about a specific kind of
illness or animal. They work with experienced vets during a 2-year
internship. They might focus on surgery, dentistry, or wild animals,
After finishing school, nearly all vets keep taking classes about
new diseases and treatments.
Students who want to be vets can get ready now by taking science
classes and learning about animals. They also need to take English
classes and practice speaking and writing so that they will be
able to explain things to animal owners.
|How much does this job pay?
The middle half of all vets earned between $49,050 and $85,770
in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $38,000 a
year. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $123,370.
There were about 58,000 veterinarian jobs in 2002. About 28 percent
of vets were self-employed and owned their own business. Most
vets worked in small clinics or hospitals. Others worked for governments,
research companies, universities, and animal food companies.
Vets are expected to have very good job opportunities. And the
number of jobs for vets is expected to grow faster than the average
for all occupations between 2002 and 2012. That's because there
will be more pets and animals and people will be willing to pay
for more medical care for their pets.
Jobs taking care of small animals are expected to increase quickly,
especially jobs taking care of cats. There will be more jobs for
vets who can have advanced training and can give special kinds
of care, such as dentistry.
Jobs taking care of large animals, such as horses and cows, are
growing more slowly. But there will still be lots of jobs for
vets who can do that work.
|Are there other jobs like this?
- Animal care and service workers
- Biological scientists
- Medical scientists
- Veterinary technologists and technicians
|Where can you find more information?
More information about veterinarians can be found in the Careers
Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau
of Labor Statistics