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Veterinarian
 
 
Summary Job Description Education Skills, Abilities and Interests More Information
Education

Education RequiredProspective veterinarians must graduate from a 4-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree and obtain a license to practice. There are 28 colleges with accredited programs. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.
Although not required, most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor's degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, zoology, microbiology, and animal science. Some programs also require math and humanities or social science courses.

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive, and less than half of all applicants were accepted in 2010. Although graduates of a veterinary program can begin practicing once they receive their license, many veterinarians pursue further education and training. Some new veterinary graduates enter 1-year internship programs to gain experience. Internships can be valuable experience for veterinarians who apply for competitive or better paying positions or in preparation for a certification program

In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on normal animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

In addition to satisfying pre-veterinary course requirements, applicants also must submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), depending on the preference of each college. Currently, 21 schools require the GRE, 5 require the VCAT, and 2 accept the MCAT.

When deciding whom to admit, some veterinary medical colleges weigh experience heavily. Formal experience, such as work with veterinarians or scientists in clinics, agribusiness, research, or some area of health science, is particularly advantageous. Less formal experience, such as working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter, can also be helpful.

Recommended High School CoursesBiology, Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Physics

Postsecondary Instructional ProgramsEducation and Training, English Language, Psychology, Administration and Management, Mathematics, Sales and Marketing, Chemistry, Biology, Customer and Personal Service, Medicine and Dentistry

Certification and LicensingAll States and the District of Columbia require that veterinarians be licensed before they can practice. The only exemptions are for veterinarians working for some Federal agencies and some State governments. Licensing is controlled by the States and is not strictly uniform, although all States require successful completion of the D.V.M. degree—or equivalent education—and passage of a national board examination.

The majority of States also require candidates to pass a State jurisprudence examination covering State laws and regulations. Some States also do additional testing on clinical competency. There are few reciprocal agreements between States, making it difficult for a veterinarian to practice in a different State without first taking another State examination.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers certification in 40 different specialties, such as surgery, microbiology, and internal medicine. Although certification is not required for veterinarians, it can show exceptional skill or expertise in a particular field. To sit for the certification exam, veterinarians must have a certain number of years of experience in the field, complete additional education, or complete a residency program, typically lasting 3 to 4 years. Requirements vary by specialty.