Veterinarian Careers

There are many options for veterinarian careers. Many vets begin their career as a vet tech or vet assistant. After graduating from vet schools, veterinarians may choose to work in any number of areas of medicine, including specializing as animal behaviorists. Many vets choose to work in a government or research role. There are plenty of options available to those with an interest in the field of veterinary medicine.

Some interested in veterinary medicine work as a vet tech or vet assistant. These positions usually support the veterinary doctor and help to provide care for animals at the direction of the veterinarian. Techs and assistants may help to clean, draw blood, feed, and care for the animal. Vet techs are often responsible for many of the same duties as nurses, such as drawing blood and placing catheters.

A vet may decide to pursue a career as an animal behaviorist, helping to interpret why animals behave in a certain manner. These vets often work with the government or with companies conducting research. They may help to observe the effects of drugs on animals, or they may work in wildlife programs, helping governments to understand natural behaviors in populations of wild animals. This is a relatively new field, and the potential for growth in this career is virtually unlimited.

There are also diverse research opportunities available for veterinary doctors. These jobs may be with firms that create products for animals, such as helping to determine the proper nutritional benefits of animal-food companies’ new products. They may also be with the state or federal government, studying wild animals and helping with unique problems concerning animal populations. They may also work with officials to determine the best courses of action to help wild animals.

There are many options available for those interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. New fields in animal behaviorism and research are opening all the time, and there is a high need for new vets in these fields. Vet techs and vet assistants are also always in high demand.



There are many specializations available to trained veterinarians, and students are exposed to many of these during the course of their training in vet schools. While small animal veterinary medicine is a specialty that many vets ultimately choose, there are a number of other specialties, as well. Vets can also choose to work with large animals; farm animals, including poultry and swine; and exotic animals in zoos or theme parks. Some may choose to work with vets as veterinary assistants or technicians. The choices are many and much more diverse than what might appear at first glance.

A specialty that many vet students may be initially interested in is small animal veterinary medicine. Small animals are generally pets with owners but may also include rescue animals. Pets in this category range in size from small reptiles, birds, and snakes to ferrets, dogs, and cats. Small animal vets usually work with the owners of the pets to ensure the health of the animals. They may be involved in primary care medicine, ensuring animals are properly vaccinated and spayed or neutered. They may also help with emergencies, often performing emergency surgeries as needed. Small animal vets take care of every need of the small animal, including surgery, dental care, and preventative care. The range of care is diverse and always interesting.

Some vets choose to work with large animals, taking care of these animals’ every health care need. These vets usually work with horses (equine veterinarians), cattle, and other farm animals. Many of these animals are working animals, such as dairy cows, and the vet ensures that the animal functions well and is healthy in every respect, including help with breeding and reproduction. They may also perform surgeries when necessary and also often perform dental care. Vets in this field must be confident and have the ability to help the animal and owner feel at ease.

Another interesting area of veterinary medicine is working with exotic animals. These vets generally work in zoos or theme parks with animals that are not generally found as pets. These veterinarians have specialized training in dealing with different species than are found in a typical veterinary practice. They may assist with animal nutrition, reproduction, and every other imaginable health care need of the animal. These vets will usually enter into an internship following vet school to further understand the unique needs of exotic animals.

Some vet students begin their careers as vet assistants or veterinary technicians. Both of these job opportunities require a love of and confidence with animals. Vet assistants are often at the beginning of their careers in veterinary medicine, usually assisting with cleanup, feeding, and restraining animals. They may be trained on the job to further their careers and learn more about providing health care to animals. In many states, veterinary technicians are trained in a college setting and required to be licensed. These professionals draw blood, perform treatments, and assist with surgeries and the care of animals in the course of their work. Their job duties may be many, including many of the roles of the vet assistant. These jobs are excellent experience for those considering attending vet schools.

Vet Assistant/ Vet Tech


There are many career opportunities available for those interested in a career with animals but not yet ready to attend vet schools. Some people who eventually go on to become veterinarians choose to start their careers in animal medicine as vet assistants, helping with basic animal care. Many people choose to make a career for themselves as a vet tech, helping the veterinarian with more advanced animal care. Even if vet school is not the chosen path, important careers working with animals are still available.

Because working with animals is a prerequisite to applying for veterinarian schools, many choose to begin their careers working as vet assistants. Assistants usually are given tasks that do not require much training, such as feeding and bathing animals. They are also usually responsible for cleanup. Beginning as a vet assistant can often lead to further on-the-job training to become a vet tech or to learn more advanced skills in caring for animals.

Vet techs are often college-trained professionals. They may attend courses at community college or veterinary technician schools, learning about the needs of animals. They may provide care to animals under the supervision of a veterinarian, often being responsible for such tasks as drawing blood and catheter placement. They also often assist with surgeries and more complicated procedures involving the animals. In many states, vet techs are required to obtain licensure to practice.

Vet assistants and vet techs are important supportive roles in veterinary medicine. Those in these positions help to care for the basic needs of the animal and may go on to learning more advanced techniques and care.

Animal Behaviorist

Animal behaviorists work with different organizations to help interpret the behaviors of different animals. They may work in universities, government, or private industry with any number of different kinds of animals. This career often requires training beyond what vet schools provide; animal behaviorists often have graduate degrees in animal behavior.

Animal behaviorists help interpret the behavior of animals. They may work for farmers, helping to predict the best course of care for dairy cattle. They may work for government bodies, helping to interpret the behavior of wild animals and to plan the proper care of populations. They may also work in research, helping to determine why animals have behaved in certain ways in the past and how they may behave in the future.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary for those working in this field is about $64,000 a year. Depending on the industry of employment, the salary may be substantially higher. For example, those employed in private industry are often much better paid than those employed by the government or academia.

Animal behaviorism is a relatively new and growing field of veterinary medicine. Those interested in pursuing a career as an animal behaviorist should consider pursuing further graduate study beyond veterinary school and can expect to be paid a better-than-average salary for their work.

Animal Importation Specialist

Animal importation specialists work with governments, zoos, and universities to help when animals are brought into or taken out of the country. This career often requires training beyond what vet schools traditionally offer; many people choosing this career also have advanced training in business and animal science.

Importation specialists have advanced knowledge of laws and information about bringing animals into the country. This career involves understanding what is needed to legally obtain animals for research and for exhibits. Animal importation specialists are often called upon to make sure that all necessary paperwork and governmental requirements have been met and to negotiate to obtain the animal.

Importation specialists may also help to provide care for animals that have recently arrived. They should have advanced knowledge of the particular species they are caring for, as animals that are imported are frequently considered exotic species.

Public Health Vet

Those finishing study at vet schools may decide to go into practice as public health veterinarians. These vets may work at animal shelters or with local governments to help control animal populations. This field of veterinary medicine requires the vet to be an excellent communicator and to be able to separate their emotions from their work.

Public health veterinarians often work in animal shelters, helping to vaccinate, spay, and neuter lost and abandoned pets. The work can be quite fulfilling and also quite emotional. Many animals are never claimed or adopted, and it is also the public health vet’s responsibility to euthanize these animals when necessary. The difficult emotional aspect of this work may keep some veterinarians from this career field.

Public health vets may also work with local governments to help devise ways to control animal populations. They may help to create public health programs to vaccinate pets or to provide low- cost spay and neuter clinics. They may work on the front lines of providing this type of care or may work ingovernment offices helping to plan the necessary care. Providing these important services to the community can also be quite fulfilling.

Research Vet

Research vets work with government, universities, or private companies to research animals at the population level, or to research new techniques or drugs and their effects. These vets may require additional training beyond the training they receive at vet schools and may need to acquire an advanced degree in science.

Many research veterinarians work with the government. They may help to determine the best course of action with populations of wild animals or may help with research on individual animals. They may help to test new drugs that are awaiting approval by government agencies. There are many opportunities available to vets wanting to work in research with the government.

Most research opportunities are available in universities and in private companies. Universities require research vets to care for the animals that are undergoing testing by other researchers. These vets may also perform the research themselves, particularly if they are also employed by the university with a graduate degree in science. Research vets at private firms work in much the same capacity as those in universities. They may help to care for animals that are undergoing testing or may perform research on animals for things such as new food or drugs made specifically for animals.

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