Overall, veterinarians, or doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs), care for the health of animals and work to improve public health by preventing the transmission of animal diseases to people. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.

Common types of veterinarians

  • Companion animal veterinarians: work with pets such as cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, and rabbits.
  • Equine veterinarians: work with horses
  • Food animal veterinarians: work with farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep
  • Food safety and inspection veterinarians: inspect and treat livestock and animal and animal products for major animal diseases, enhance animal welfare, conduct research to improve animal health, and enforce government food safety regulations
  • Research veterinarians: work in laboratories, conducting clinical research on human and animal health problems.


Many qualities are important to possess if you wants to become a successful veterinarian. A veterinarian must display compassion when working with animals and their owners. They must be able to demonstrate kindness and respect to not only the animals, but also the animals’ owners. They have to be able to demonstrate sensitivity and empathy when dealing with the owners of the sick animals. A successful veterinarian must possess good problem-solving and decision-making skills. Veterinarians must be able to not only be able to determine what is ailing the animal, but must also determine the appropriate method for treating the injuries and illnesses of animals. A veterinarian should also have good interpersonal skills because he or she should be able to communicate effectively their recommendations and explain treatment options to animal owners and give instructions to the staff members.

Veterinarians are highly educated and skilled in preventing, diagnosing and treating animal health problems.  Today more than 40,000 veterinarians are professionally active in the U.S.  They provide a wide variety of services in private practice, teaching and research, government services, public health, armed forces, private industry, and other specialized areas.


In order to become a veterinarian, you must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. There are currently 29 colleges with accredited programs in the U.S. Candidates for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree A veterinarian must complete a minimum of six years of college/professional education: two or more years of pre-veterinary coursework and four years of the professional DVM program. In order to be accepted to a DVM program, most DVM programs require prerequisite coursework in the fields of biological science, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, general physics, English composition, and speech communications. A certain cumulative grade-point average is also usually required for the prerequisite coursework. Most schools will also require the applicant to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  Veterinary medical study is difficult and admission to a college of veterinary medicine is extremely competitive.              – DVM school in Louisiana:  Louisiana State University- Baton Rouge


Once accepted into a DVM program, the coursework will consist of classwork in normal animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Other coursework may include general business management and career development classes. Students typically spend the final year doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital.


Licenses and Certifications                                                                                                              All states and the District of Columbia require veterinarians to have a license in order to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require prospective veterinarians to complete an accredited veterinary program and to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Most states require not only the national exam but also have a state exam that covers state laws and regulations.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers certifications in 40 specialities, such as surgery, microbiology, and internal medicine. These certificates show that the veterinarian has exceptional skill and expertise in the particular field.


Work Schedule      

Veterinarians often work long hours (~50 hrs), and some may work nights or weekends. Many veterinarians also have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours.

Most veterinarians work in private clinics or hospitals, but other work environments can consist of farms, ranches, laboratories, food-processing plants, classrooms, or government facilities. Much of a veterinarian’s work consist of them being on their feet.

Salary Information

The median annual wage for veterinarians was $84,460 in May 2012.                                                The median annual wage for veterinarians in Louisiana was $66,000 in April 2013.

Job Outlook

The employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 12% from 2012 to 2022, which is about the average of all occupations growth. There will be an increased demand for veterinarians in private practice and jobs in food and animal safety, disease control, and public health.


American Animal Hospital Association
(800) 252-2242

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges/National Association of Federal Veterinarians
1101 Vermont Ave. NW; Ste. 710
Washington, D.C. 20005-3521
(202) 371-9195

American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 North Meachum Rd.; Ste.100
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(800) 248-2862