Veterinarians care for an animal's health. They diagnose medical problems, set broken bones, perform surgery and prescribe medicines. Veterinarians also help prevent illness in animals by giving vaccinations and physicals. Some veterinarians treat small animals such as cats and dogs. Others treat large animals, such as horses and cattle, while some treat both. Veterinarians also work for zoos, government agencies such as food safety inspection departments, and universities.

Working Conditions

Veterinarians often work in an animal hospital or clinic. Those who work with large animals usually work out of mobile clinics, working outdoors in all kinds of weather.


Earnings vary according to the type of practice. Average starting salary for graduates is between $29,900 and $44,500.

Helpful Skills and Subjects to Study

Good manual dexterity is needed and the ability to get along and have patience with animals and animal owners. The ability to make emergency decisions is a must. Preveterinary courses in the sciences are required. Medical colleges require courses in chemistry, physics, biology, and genetics to name a few. Some programs require calculus, algebra, and trigonometry.

Related Jobs

Chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, animal trainers, animal breeders, and animal scientists.

Education & Training

Graduation from a four-year program resulting in a Doctor of Veterinary degree and obtaining a license is required. Passing a state and national exam are also mandatory.

Job Outlook

Competition for admission to veterinary school is keen and job prospects will be better for those who specialize in farm animals and have a desire to work in isolated and rural areas. Employment from job openings is expected to grow faster than average do to retirement.

Sources for Additional Information

American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N Meacham Road, Suite 100
Shaumburg, IL 60173-4360

National Association of Federal Veterinarians
1101 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 710
Washington, DC 20005