How Do I Begin a Career in Veterinary Medicine?

Lainie Petersen

To begin a career in veterinary medicine, you should spend time working with veterinarians and animals and prepare for and complete your education at an accredited school of veterinary medicine. In some places, such as the United States, entry into veterinary school is extremely competitive due to a relatively small number of schools. By demonstrating strong academic skills as well as a history of working in veterinary medicine and with animals, you may increase your chances of being accepted into an educational program. Once you have completed your education, you will need to meet the licensing requirements established in the jurisdiction in which you wish to practice. You may also want to complete additional training so that you can specialize in a specific area of practice.

Veterinarians must be licensed and certified.
Veterinarians must be licensed and certified.

If you are currently a high school student, it's to your advantage to prepare for taking college-level science and math courses by taking as many of these courses now. In addition to academic preparation, try to get a paid or volunteer job working with animals. For example, many animal shelters need volunteers to help care for the many abandoned pets in their care. By working with the animals, you can better decide whether a career in veterinary medicine is for you. In some cases, you may be offered the ability to become a veterinary tech and actually work with a veterinarian: If you can get this type of work, you will be able to prepare yourself for the practical side of working with animals as a career.

Prospective veterinarians often volunteer at animal shelters.
Prospective veterinarians often volunteer at animal shelters.

Once you are enrolled in college, speak to your adviser about the courses that you should be taking in order to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. You should also begin investigating veterinary schools and find out about their entry requirements. You may also wish to visit the veterinary schools so that you can get a better idea of which school or schools you may want to attend. If possible, continue to work with animals while you complete your college education.

A veterinarian may treat livestock animals, such as pigs.
A veterinarian may treat livestock animals, such as pigs.

After you are accepted to a veterinary school, you will need to complete your academic requirements and pay attention to the types of animals that you most like to work with. Eventually, you can use this information to determine a specialization if you eventually decide to move outside a general veterinary practice. In many areas, once you complete your education and training, you will also need to sit for a licensing exam before you begin your career in veterinary medicine.

Gaining experience working with animals at a local shelter can help people wanting to work in the veterinary field.
Gaining experience working with animals at a local shelter can help people wanting to work in the veterinary field.
A person wishing to work in veterinary medicine should have a love for animals.
A person wishing to work in veterinary medicine should have a love for animals.

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