Veterinarian Job Description
Veterinarians perform a range of medical tasks to animals to diagnose and treat different diseases and injuries. This job involves examining animals for the cause of their health problems, advising of the correct treatment, and advising pet owners of how to keep their pet healthy. Most veterinarians work full-time, and may need to work additional hours if dealing with an emergency or working on-call. Veterinarians typically work in veterinary practices and surgeries, although if they specialize in agricultural veterinary medicine, they will need to travel to farms, stables, or ranches to treat animals on-site. This job is well suited to people who are compassionate and care about animal welfare, who are strong communicators, and who have great attention to detail.
Veterinarian Duties and Responsibilities
Veterinarians can take on a range of different duties and responsibilities, depending on the organization they work for. Based on job listings we analyzed, a veterinarian’s duties typically involve:
Examining and Diagnosing Animals
Veterinarians examine animals each day to detect any problems with their health, and determine the cause of their injury. This may include taking samples for further analysis to test for pathogens and diseases.
Advising Pet Owners on Treatment
Veterinarians counsel pet owners on the correct treatment and follow-up care for their pets, as well as advise on any lifestyle changes that are needed to keep their pet healthy.
If the animal needs immediate treatment, veterinarians will administer the vaccination or care at the surgery, or they will prescribe treatment for the owner to administer at home.
Operating Equipment and Machinery
Veterinarians operate X-ray machines and ultrasound scanners to identify any internal issues that are causing problems to the animal’s health.
Liaising with Other Professionals
Veterinarians attend conferences and industry events to liaise with other veterinary professionals, as well as to stay up to date with the latest news, treatments, and medications that they can administer to animals in need.
Veterinarian Skills and Qualifications
Veterinarians should be compassionate and caring towards animals, be able to carry out treatment and surgeries with precision and accuracy, and have good interpersonal skills. Typically, employers will require a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, as well as the following abilities:
- Compassion – pet owners can be worried or upset by their pets being unwell, so it’s important that veterinarians are compassionate and caring towards animals, and that they treat both the pets and owners with respect
- Decision-making skills – a key part of this job is deciding the correct method of treatment for each animal, so strong decision-making skills are a must
- Dexterity – veterinarians often work with equipment and medical tools, so great dexterity is vital so that they can treat injuries and perform surgery with precision
- Communication skills – veterinarians should have great communication skills, both for working with their colleagues and assistants, and for speaking to animal owners, as well as the ability to be approachable and empathetic
- Timekeeping abilities – veterinarians keep strict appointments, so it’s important that they’re organized can manage their time effectively in order to see all the patients that they have booked in that day
Veterinarian Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a veterinarian is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree from an accredited veterinary college, as well as a state license. A veterinary medicine program usually takes around four years to complete, which includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components. A bachelor’s degree is usually needed to attend veterinary school, and most applicants have taken science classes, as well as math, humanities, and social sciences.
Veterinarian Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for veterinarians is nearly $90,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Veterinarians in the 10th percentile earn around $54,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $159,000 a year. The higher end of the pay scale sees some companies offer packages that can reach up to $19,000 from bonus structures based on individual or group performances, and up to $29,000 in profit sharing opportunities.
Location and level of experience impact the pay level for this role, and many employers offer medical insurance as part of their benefits package. The BLS predicts that the growth rate for this sector is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2026.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you develop a career as a veterinarian.
Ethical Veterinarian and Animal Service Professional – a useful LinkedIn group to join for new and experienced veterinarians alike, this group focuses on issues related to the ethical treatment of animals, in a health and lifestyle perspective. It’s a great place to network and build contacts with others in the industry, as well as learn from experienced veterinarians.
The Merck Veterinary Manual – a comprehensive book that will serve any veterinarian for many years to come, this manual covers all domesticated species and diseases worldwide. A revised edition, this version covers public health, fish and aquaculture, toxicologic workplace hazards, and many more emerging topics in veterinary medicine.
Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook – now in its 9th edition, this book is a complete and trusted source of information on drugs relevant to veterinary medicine. It features 16 new drugs, carefully curated information on dosages, and is an authoritative reference for animal medication.
American Veterinary Medical Association – this site is dedicated to providing current, detailed, and accurate information in the world of veterinary medicine. For veterinarians looking to stay up to date with the latest news and industry trends, this is a useful site to have bookmarked for regular reference.
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