Career Information

Return to Career Page

Veterinary Medicine


Career data updated last on 10/15/2014
Veterinarian Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVMs) are dedicated to animal and human welfare. They diagnose and treat diseases and injuries in animals. They also control the spread of disease in animals and from animals to humans. They treat and may specialize in companion animals such as dogs, cats and birds; domestic animals such as horses, cattle and sheep; wild animals; or marine life. Veterinarians may also work in public health or supervise the care of laboratory animals. Some veterinarians are involved in food safety at various levels. Veterinarians who are livestock inspectors check animals for transmissible diseases, advise owners on treatment, and may quarantine animals. Veterinarians who are meat, poultry, or egg product inspectors examine slaughtering and processing plants, check live animals and carcasses for disease, and enforce government regulations regarding food purity and sanitation.
Salary $58.33/hr - $121,330 annually
Significant Points Employment opportunities are expected to be very good, but competition for admission to veterinary school is keen.
Specializations There are many areas of specialization for veterinarians. Some choose to focus on specific animals such as horses, or specific American Veterinary Medical Association recognized areas such as pathology, internal medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology, surgery, radiology, preventive medicine, or laboratory animal medicine.
Work Environment Most veterinarians work independently or in group practices in animal clinics, or may conduct visits to farms and livestock centers. Veterinarians also work for state and federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. Those who specialize in research work in laboratories at universities and veterinary schools. Others are employed by biomedical industries. Veterinarians often work long hours. Those in group practices may take turns being on call for evening, night, or weekend work; and solo practitioners can work extended and weekend hours, responding to emergencies or squeezing in unexpected appointments.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including biology and chemistry, one physical science and one lab course; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language. Related experience is helpful such as jobs with veterinarians or pet shops, membership in the 4-H clubs or Future Farmers of America, or volunteer work with animal shelters and humane societies.
Academic Requirements Veterinarians must receive a graduate degree from an accredited college of veterinary medicine. Candidates may apply to veterinary school after completing required coursework in an undergraduate program which includes English, biological and physical science, humanities and social sciences. State schools usually give preference to in-state applicants. In addition to satisfying preveterinary course requirements, applicants also must submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), depending on the preference of each college. Veterinary school takes four years to complete and includes course work and clinical experience in anatomy and physiology of animals, disease systems, toxicology, diagnosis of injury and disease, veterinary public health and other topics. At most veterinary medical colleges, students who plan a career in research can earn both a D.V.M. degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree at the same time. Graduates of veterinary school must then pass a national certification examination and meet the requirements of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Board in order to be licensed to practice in Colorado.


Colorado State University
Doctoral Degree Doctoral

Return to Career Page