All You Need To Know About A Veterinarian Career
You think about becoming a veterinarian but need additional information before making your final career choice?
Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about working as a veterinarian in the following chapters.
Not only will you learn how much veterinarians can make, but you will also get lots of information on job satisfaction, prospects, future outlook, educational requirements, duties, work-life balance and much more.
You will also find an FAQ section at the end of this article where I answer the most common questions about being a vet for you.
After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a veterinarian or rather want to work in a different field instead.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
What does a Veterinarian do?
Veterinarians treat and cure all sorts of pets and other animals so that they can become and stay healthy in the long run.
Vets also do animal vaccinations and prescribe some preventive treatment so that pet owners can minimize the risk of their pets getting sick.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Veterinarian
- Diagnosing health problems of pets
- Assessing overall health status of pets
- Curing diseases of all sorts of animals
- Prescribing preventive treatment to minimize the risk of pets getting sick
- Educating owners on how to keep pets in the best possible manner
- Giving vaccinations to pets
- Doing veterinary surgeries
- Observing and documenting the progress of treatments
- Observing how pets react to certain treatments
- Doing animal testing and other studies
- Complying with laws and regulations related to veterinary work
- Treating and dressing wounds of pets
- Deciding whether treatment makes sense or not
- Prescribing proper medication
What a Typical Day of a Veterinarian looks like?
Veterinarians usually get to work between 8 and 10 a.m.
The first thing they do is having a look at their schedule and structuring their workday.
They also do some administrative work and also advise their assistants and secretaries on what to expect that day.
After doing some organizational work, veterinarians treat and cure diseases of many different pets.
They also advise pet holders on how to minimize the risk of pet diseases in the future and also give them tips and tricks on how to keep pets in an optimal manner in general.
Thus, as a vet, you not only have to be really good at treating all sorts of pet diseases, but you should also have great people skills so that you can calm down your clients who are often really worried and need someone they can lean onto during times their loved pets are sick.
Veterinarian Salary 2023
Veterinarian salary brackets 2023
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $137,000||> $68.42|
|Top 25 %||$119,000 – $126,000||$59.41 – $62.93|
|Bottom 25 %||$73,000 – $78,000||$36.38 – $38.97|
|Bottom 10 %||$62,000 – $67,000||$30.87 – $33.45|
|Range||$62,000 – $149,000||$30.87 – $74.46|
Veterinarian salary 2023 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$62,000 – $75,000||$30.87 – $37.43|
|Junior||$73,000 – $81,000||$36.38 – $40.41|
|Professional||$79,000 – $98,000||$39.47 – $48.92|
|Senior Professional||$96,000 – $103,000||$47.91 – $51.45|
|Expert||$101,000 – $121,000||$50.39 – $60.48|
|Top Expert||$118,000 – $149,000||$58.96 – $74.46|
Veterinarian salary by state 2023 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$105,700||$52.83|
Job Security of Veterinarians
Veterinarians have pretty decent job security since an increasing number of people want to keep pets and there is lots of work to do for veterinarians in most regions.
Consequently, your risk of getting unemployed is pretty low and even in case you do for some reason, you will likely still find another job pretty quickly.
Future Outlook of Veterinarians
Not only do veterinarians have decent job security right now, but they also have a pretty awesome future outlook since most veterinary work cannot be outsourced to intelligent machines in the near future and while many other people like taxi drivers or truck drivers will lose their jobs, you as a veterinarian will not have to worry about getting unemployed anytime soon.
Working Hours of Veterinarians
Most veterinarians start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.
Thus, you will work in a pretty standard 9 to 5 environment while you can still make much more money than the average person out there from your veterinarian career.
Job Satisfaction of Veterinarians
Most veterinarians are pretty happy with their jobs since they don’t have to work long hours while they can still do good for many animals and pet owners and can also make really good money in the long run.
Promotion Opportunities of Veterinarians
Veterinarians have pretty limited promotion opportunities.
While they can start their own veterinary practice, employed veterinarians will do the same job for many years or even decades without getting lots of additional responsibilities.
Career Levels of Veterinarians
- Intern at a veterinarian office
- Junior veterinarian
- Senior veterinarian
- Owner of a veterinarian practice
Fields and Types of Veterinarians
- Companion animal veterinarian
- Veterinarian with expertise in treating horses
- Veterinarian focused on small animals
- Veterinarian with expertise in treating zoo animals
- Veterinarian focused on curing circus animals
- Veterinarian treating exotic diseases
- Veterinarian focused on spinal issues of pets
- Livestock veterinarian
- Laboratory veterinarian
Educational Requirements for Veterinarians
You need to get an undergraduate degree as well as a doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine (VMD or DVM) to be able to work as a veterinarian and this means that you will have to spend many years in college before you are actually work in your dream job.
How to become a Veterinarian
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a veterinarian
- Apply for an undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine and start college education
- Gain some experience at a veterinary practice
- Finish your degree with decent grades
- Start your doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine
- Finish your doctor’s degree
- Apply for jobs as a veterinarian
- Master the job interview
- Sign your labor contract
- Open your own veterinary office
Character Traits you need as a Veterinarian
- Empathy for pets and clients
- Patience for clients who are worried and frustrated
- You should be a good listener
- You should be passionate about helping pets and pet owners out
- You should love working with animals
- Ability to deal with conflicting attitudes in an emotionally healthy manner
- You should be friendly and reliable to connect with your clients
- Persistence helps you overcome difficult periods of your veterinarian career
- Attention to detail helps you diagnose serious health problems
Hard Skills for Veterinarians
- Excellent knowledge of how to cure pet diseases
- Knowledge of how to calm animals and owners down
- You should have excellent knowledge of preventive medicine
- Expertise in diagnosing health risks before they turn into diseases
- Good knowledge of nutritional facts related to animal feeding
- Good problem-solving skills are a plus
- Strong analytical skills help as well
- Knowledge of legal and regulatory aspects related to treating animals
- Digital skills help you promote your veterinary business
Soft Skills for Veterinarians
- Ability to deal with critical feedback in a healthy manner
- Patience for clients who have a bad day
- Ability to calm pets down
- Excellent interpersonal skills help you gain the trust of clients
- Good communication skills help as well
- Good time management skills help you treat many pets per day
- Ability to deal with drawbacks in a healthy manner
- Compassion for clients who may lose their pets
- You have to accept that you will not be able to cure all pets
Exit Options for Veterinarians
While veterinarians will become really good at treating animals, they are also pretty specialized and will have pretty poor exit options when it comes to working outside of the veterinary industry unless they get lots of additional education and are finally able to work as nurse practitioners or doctors.
Veterinarian – Similar Careers
- Nurse practitioner
- Veterinary assistant
- Food scientist
- Plastic surgeon
- Animal caretaker
- Pet sitter
Veterinarian Career FAQs
Is working as a veterinarian physically demanding?
Being a veterinarian is not heavily physically demanding.
While you will often have to work with your hands to move pets and to diagnose certain diseases, you will still not have to work in the same heavy physical manner compared to fallers, carpenters or other craftsmen out there.
Is working as a veterinarian mentally demanding?
Working as a vet can be mentally demanding since you will have to examine and diagnose diseases all day long and some of your patients will be hard cases where you will have a difficult time making the right diagnose.
Thus, you will have to use your brain quite a lot to really figure out what’s going on with the pets you treat so that you can cure them in a proper manner.
Is it dangerous to work as a veterinarian?
Working as a veterinarian is not overly dangerous.
While pets may bite you from time to time, you will still not risk your life every day as police officers and firemen have to do on a regular basis.
How long do veterinarians stay in their jobs?
Since veterinarians are pretty happy with their jobs, they have a pretty low incentive of switching fields and therefore stay in the veterinary industry for many years or even decades.
Is it easy for veterinarians to find a new job?
Veterinarians have a pretty easy time finding a new job since they are in high demand right now and there is a shortage of qualified vets in many regions of our planet.
Is it hard to switch from being a veterinarian to another field of work?
Since veterinarians are pretty specialized, they often have a hard time finding a job in a different field since they often lack the skills to do so and therefore have to work in the veterinary industry for quite a long time.
Do veterinarians have a high social status?
While veterinarians have a decent social status, they still don’t have the same high social standing as dentists, judges or other people who have a real impact on the lives of humans and not only pets.
Can you help out your family and friends as a veterinarian?
While you can help out your loved ones in case their pets get sick, you as a veterinarian will still be pretty specialized and while plumbers and other craftsmen can install, fix and renew many things around the home, you will not be able to do any of those things as a vet.
Can veterinarians work remotely?
Veterinarians are not able to work remotely for most of the time since they have to diagnose, treat and cure pet diseases in person and therefore have to spend lots of time and money commuting to work and back while accountants and other people who work in classical office jobs can work from home quite often.
Is it easy to find a partner as a veterinarian?
Due to the good money veterinarians can make and their decent social standing, veterinarians have a rather easy time in the dating market when it comes to finding a partner for a long-term relationship since they are considered good providers and many people want to mate with them to have a bright future.
Do veterinarians have to work on weekends?
Veterinarians usually don’t have to work on weekends.
However, if you have your own veterinary office, you might also want to work during weekends to make additional money on the side.
Do veterinarians have to work on holidays?
Veterinarians also don’t work on holidays.
Instead, they can spend those days making nice trips with their families or just spend them on their favorite hobbies.
Do veterinarians have to work at nighttime?
Veterinarians don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime.
Do you have to travel as a veterinarian?
There is no need to travel as an investment banker apart from commuting to work and back.
Hence, while people who work in important jobs in the corporate world will often be away for business trips quite often, you as a vet will be able to spend your leisure at home with your family.
Are veterinarian pensions good?
Veterinarians can save and invest lots of money during their active careers and therefore also receive pretty decent pensions and don’t have to worry about getting into financial trouble once they get to retirement age and finish their active careers.
Are veterinarian salaries going up?
Veterinarian salaries have been going up significantly over the past years since the demand for veterinary treatment increased significantly and also an increasing number of people want to keep pets.
Consequently, vets have excellent job prospects and their wages will likely continue to increase in the near future.
Can you have a positive impact on society as a veterinarian?
While you can help out many pets and make their owners happy, you will still not have the same big social impact compared to professors or influencers who can shape and alter the thought process of many people per day.
How long does it take to become a veterinarian?
Since you will have to get a doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine before you are allowed to work as a vet, you will have to spend 6 to 10 years in college and you should therefore be really passionate about working in this field to make it worth the initial investment in terms of time and money.
Is it difficult to become a veterinarian?
Since you will have to get lots of fancy education and also have to pass many exams, it is not easy to become a veterinarian and many people who aspire to such a career quit along the way.
Do you need to be smart to work as a veterinarian?
While you don’t need to be a genius, you should still be smart to pass all the exams and to meet all the regulatory requirements that come along with starting a career in this field.
Do veterinarians have a good work-life balance?
Veterinarians enjoy pretty decent work-life balance since they don’t have to work on weekends and holidays and also come home from work relatively early while they can still make good money from what they are doing.
Do veterinarians have to work many extra hours?
Veterinarians don’t have to work many extra hours.
Instead, they have rather fixed opening hours and once your shift is over, you will just finish your workday and get back to work the next morning.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a veterinarian?
The harder you study and the more experience you get with pets at a rather young age, the higher your chances of passing all your exams and of staying motivated enough to push through difficult periods of your career.
Can veterinarians work part-time?
Veterinarians can work part-time as well as full-time. However, most vets still work full-time since they often have to pay off lots of student loan debt and urgently need money to do so and also want to make as much money as possible to afford some nice things in general.
Do veterinarians work indoors or outdoors?
What does the workplace of a veterinarian look like?
Veterinarians just work in a veterinary office where they treat many animals all day long.
Thus, apart from having excellent knowledge of veterinary medicine, you should also be really good at handling people and should also know how to calm them down to avoid serious conflicts.
Do you have to look good for working as a veterinarian?
You don’t need to look like a model to succeed as a veterinarian.
However, you should still look groomed so that clients trust your judgement and are not deterred by your appearance.
Is a veterinarian career beneficial for your private life?
Since you can make good money while you still have lots of leisure and will not have to worry about losing your job anytime soon, working as a vet can be great for your private life since you will have enough time for your family while you will not have to worry about money that much and will have a rather easy time planning your financial future.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a veterinarian?
You need an undergraduate degree as well as a doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine before you are able to work in this field.
Thus, you will have to spend many years on education and you should really be passionate about your goal of working as a veterinarian so that you stick with it and don’t quit somewhere along the way.
Do you need to be certified to work as a veterinarian?
While you don’t need any certifications, you often need a license to be able to work as a veterinarian in many states.
However, getting this license is often pretty easy as long as you fulfill all other educational and regulatory requirements.
How much does it cost to become a veterinarian?
Since you will have to spend 6 to 10 years on college education, you have to spend lots of money on college education and many vets take on enormous amounts of student loan debt to finance their degrees.
Is being a veterinarian a good career?
Since you don’t have to work many extra hours and can make good money from what you are doing and also have excellent job security, being a veterinarian is considered a good career by most of the general public.
Is it easy to start your own business as a veterinarian?
Once you got your doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine and get your license, you will have a rather easy time opening your own veterinary office even though you will have to deal with lots of additional administrative work.
Can veterinarians teach themselves?
Since veterinarians have to get lots of specialized knowledge, they are not able to teach themselves and rather have to get a fancy doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine before they are able to practice in this field.
Do veterinarians make good money?
While veterinarians can make decent money, they still don’t make as much as doctors specialized in human medicine on average.
Is it ever too late to become a veterinarian?
Since you will have to spend many years on education, you should start your veterinarian career pretty early in your life to make it worth the initial investment in terms of time and money.
Do veterinarians have to quit their careers early?
Since veterinarians don’t have to work in a hard physical manner, they are also not at great risk of suffering from serious health problems related to their jobs and many of them don’t have to quit their careers early and can rather work until official retirement age.
What is the hardest thing about working as a veterinarian?
The hardest part about being a veterinarian is that you will experience many sad moments when owners have to say goodbye to their loved pets and if you are not a strong character and have a stable mindset, those moments may really eat you up in the long run.
Can you provide for your family by working as a veterinarian?
Since veterinarians can make decent money, you will have a rather easy time providing for your family and will even be able to afford some luxury.
Will veterinarians suffer from old-age poverty?
Thanks to the good money vets can make during their active careers, many veterinarians are able to save enough money for retirement and don’t suffer from serious old-age poverty.
Can veterinarians retire early?
If you save enough money instead of spending everything on unnecessary consumption and also make smart investment decisions, you might be able to retire in your 50s while most other people have to work until they reach official retirement age in their 60s.
Do veterinarians get a fixed or variable salary?
While employed veterinarians often get a fixed base salary with a small variable component, your income as a self-employed veterinarian will greatly vary over time depending on the number of clients you have.
Can you get rich as a veterinarian?
While you can make good money as a veterinarian, it will still be hard for you to get rich unless you start your own veterinary office and scale your veterinary business as much as possible.
Do veterinarians need a second job?
Since vets are able to make good money, they don’t need to work a second job and can rather enjoy lots of leisure together with their loved ones.
Do you get training as a veterinarian?
While you will get lots of training and will learn many things while you are still in college, it will be on you to really hone your craft once you start working as a veterinarian in an official manner.
Do you get sick pay as a veterinarian?
While many veterinarians get sick pay, this greatly depends on the region you work in and the company you work for and if you are not sure in this regard, you should ask local vets to get additional information on this topic.
Do veterinarians have a high level of responsibility?
Veterinarians have a high level of responsibility since mistakes on their side may take away the lives of pets and their owners will often be heartbroken in case this happens and may even sue you.
Can veterinarians work abroad?
Veterinarians are needed all over the world.
However, still keep in mind that working conditions are often pretty different in foreign countries from what you are used to at home and before migrating to another country, you should make sure to inform yourself carefully to avoid any unpleasant surprises in this regard.
Is it stressful to work as a veterinarian?
Working as a veterinarian can be stressful on an emotional level since mistakes on your side can lead to serious adverse outcomes for the animals you treat and you will therefore have to deal with lots of emotional pressure.
Is it boring to work as a veterinarian?
Working as a vet never gets boring since you will experience many new situations on a regular basis and if you are really passionate about working with animals, this might really be your dream job and you may be full of energy every day when you wake up in the morning.
Is being a veterinarian hard?
While you don’t have to stress your body that much, working as a vet can still be hard on a mental and emotional level since you will have high levels of responsibility and mistakes on your side can potentially take away the lives of money people.
Are veterinarians at risk of burnout?
Since veterinarians have to deal with high levels of emotional pressure, many veterinarians who don’t have a strong emotional mindset are at great risk of suffering from burnout or other mental or emotional health problems.
Is there a dress code for veterinarians?
While veterinarians don’t have to comply with a certain fixed dress code, they still often wear medical scrubs so that they look competent to gain the trust of their clients.
What kind of veterinarians are paid the most?
The more pets you treat, the more value you can provide to the veterinary practice you work for and the more money you can make as a veterinarian in the long run.
What percentage of veterinarians are women?
While 53% of all veterinarians are women, 47% are men.
Thus, the ratio between men and women is pretty balanced in the veterinary industry.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a veterinarian?
You don’t urgently need a mentor to succeed as a vet.
However, it can still help to have an experienced veterinarian on your side who can support you and give advice to you during difficult periods of your career.
Do veterinarians have a high life expectancy?
Since veterinarians don’t work in a risky environment and can also afford the best medical treatment in case of emergency, they have pretty decent life expectancy compared to the average person out there.
Do veterinarians suffer from sleeping problems?
Since veterinarians don’t have to work at nighttime, they are able to maintain a pretty healthy sleeping pattern and most veterinarians therefore don’t suffer from sleeping problems related to their jobs.
What states are best for working as a veterinarian?
Since vets can make pretty good money across states, you should choose the state you want to live in according to your personal preferences and if you want to afford as many nice things as possible, you should choose a region where the demand for veterinary services is pretty high while living costs are as low as possible.
Who do veterinarians work with?
Veterinarians work with many different clients and apart from having excellent veterinary knowledge, it is also crucial that you provide great customer support and that people really trust you so that they come back to your practice in the long run.
Is working as a veterinarian cool?
Being a vet is considered fairly cool by the majority of the general public.
However, you should still not choose your career according to what’s cool but rather listen to your brain and your heart when it comes to making this important decision.
Can you start a side hustle as a veterinarian?
Since veterinarians are often pretty specialized, they have a rather hard time starting a side hustle unless they get additional qualifications in different fields.
Do you have to be creative as a veterinarian?
You don’t need to be overly creative as a veterinarian.
What’s much more important is that you have excellent medical knowledge and that you also have great people skills to calm clients down.
Do veterinarians suffer from being overweight?
Since veterinarians don’t work in a hard physical manner, they also don’t burn lots of calories at work and many vets therefore suffer from being overweight or even obese in the long run.
How employable are veterinarians?
Veterinarians are pretty employable right now since an increasing number of people want to get pets and there is a lack of qualified vets in many regions of our planet.
Consequently, jobs prospects for vets are excellent and you don’t have to worry about losing your job anytime soon.
Are veterinarians happy with their jobs?
Most vets are pretty happy with their jobs since they can make good money while they still don’t have to work many extra hours and will have more than enough time to spend with their family.
Is working as a veterinarian exciting?
Working as a vet can be exciting since you will experience many new and unexpected situations during your career and especially if you love working with animals, working as a veterinarian may really be your dream job.
Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a veterinarian?
Since you will mainly focus on curing pets, you will not have a big positive impact on our environment as a veterinarian.
What are the pros and cons of working as a veterinarian?
If you still consider becoming a vet, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a veterinarian career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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