how to become a veterinarian in texas

Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by

Becoming a Texas veterinarian is a rewarding career that allows you to have a positive impact on the lives of animals. In the article below, you will discover different paths to becoming a veterinarian in Texas, veterinary schools in texas, how long does it take to become a veterinary assistant, what degree do you need to be a veterinarian & how to become a veterinary assistant.

Get more information regarding how much do vets get paid in texas, how long does it take to become a licensed veterinarian & how much do vets make in texas

how to be a vet in texas

How to Become a Veterinarian | Education and Career Roadmap

Step 1

Earn a bachelor’s degree in a biological science to prepare for entering veterinary school.
Take courses in animal behavior (if available), general biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Then take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to qualify for entering a veterinary school. While in school, volunteer or intern at vet clinics or animal care facilities to gain experience working with animals.

Step 2

Complete a four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program in one of more than 30 accredited schools in the country. Doctorate curriculum should include animal anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, nutrition, virology, and zoology. Pursue independent research in the field. Undertake hands-on supervised clinical practice (practicums) in your final year. Potential sites include animal farms, veterinary clinics, hospitals, and zoos.

Step 3

Take and pass the seven-hour licensing examination offered by the state in which you plan to practice. A common exam is prepared by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Step 4

Start practicing, and pursue training and certification. You may choose to select one or more of 40 veterinary specialties, including anesthesia, behavior, dentistry, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, laboratory animal medicine, nutrition, oncology, radiology, and surgery.

How To Become A Veterinarian - How to become...

how to become a licensed veterinarian in texas

Many people dream of becoming a vet so they can help animals. This is a worthy goal, but it’s not one that will happen quickly. What does it take to become a vet in Texas? Schooling—a lot of schooling.  It takes between 7 and 9 years to complete the required undergrad requirements plus vet school needed to finally be able to earn your veterinary license and don the white coat.

Whether you’re just starting high school or you’re getting ready to start applying to college and you’re looking for information about how to become a vet, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Learning Science and Math 

As is the case with any path that involves the sciences, you’ll need a strong foundation, and high school is a great place to start building it. Take as many high level math and science classes as you can. If you qualify, go for the AP classes that may reduce the number of classes you’ll need in college and shorten—albeit only slightly—the amount of time it will take to complete your program.

How to Become a Veterinarian in Texas

Earn Your Undergrad Degree

Every choice you make during your undergrad program should be made with the fact that you want to apply for vet school in mind. Each vet school’s requirements are a bit different, so become familiar with the requirements of the schools you’re interested in.

Generally speaking, this will include classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and math.  Depending on the school, you may also need classes in biochemistry, mammalogy, and other advanced classes.

You should look at your four years in college as a way to build a successful application to vet school. Many campuses have pre-professional clubs that help guide students towards their stated career goals. Joining a pre-veterinary club is an excellent idea as is volunteering for internship experience in some related capacity.

Take the GRE As graduation nears, you’ll need to take the GRE. This is a test that shows you’re prepared to embark on graduate-level studies. While not all veterinary schools require the GRE, many do. If you plan to apply to more than one vet school, it’s a good idea to have this test under your belt.
Best Colleges in Texas for Veterinarians - 2021 2022

Vet School

Being accepted into the vet school of your choice is a huge accomplishment, and if you’ve made it this far you should be very proud of what you have achieved. Now it’s time to get to work and learn the skills you’ll need to reach your goal of becoming a licensed veterinarian.

Take full advantage of any available research projects and other programs. Such programs are how many vet school students end up deciding on an area of specialty or choose research over practice.

Get Your License

All states, including Texas, require graduates of veterinary school to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. In Texas, you must also pass the State Board Examination.

The truth is that the answer to how to become a vet seems overwhelming to many, and it’s not for everyone. Those who dream of working with animals in a medical setting also have the option of becoming a vet tech.

How to Become a Vet Tech

Vet techs may perform diagnostic tests, prepare animals for surgery, administer treatments, and otherwise support the veterinarian. Are you wondering how to become a vet tech in Texas? The job does require some schooling and you must attend a program that is accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

These are two-year programs. Upon graduation, the next step is to take a board certified exam to become a registered veterinary technician.

Here at The Vet on Fourth, we know how rewarding a career in veterinary medicine is, and we wish you the best as you move towards your goal of becoming a licensed veterinarian or registered veterinary technician.

How to Become a Veterinarian: Key Steps and Qualities

What to Expect in Vet School

Students enrolled in vet school will take an array of classes relevant to animal health, experts say.

“Within the veterinary school curriculum,” Solomon wrote in an email, “classes include the anatomy and physiology of many species (cats, dogs, horses, cows and exotic species), nutrition, microbiology, infectious diseases, internal medicine and surgery. Elective courses are also offered in areas of aquatic and zoo animal medicine, conservation of endangered species, rehabilitation medicine and Eastern medicine such as acupuncture.”

Krull describes the amount of material that vet students need to absorb as “astronomical,” since students must gain an understanding of multiple species and learn about both male and female animals. “Being a veterinary student is extremely difficult but rewarding,” she says.

Vet school involves not only science classes but also clinical skills training, experts say.

“Throughout, students must learn to diagnose and treat diseases in a wide range of species that go beyond dogs, cats, cows and horses, including birds and exotic pets such as reptiles and amphibians,” Collins says.

Collins describes veterinary education as “a full-time job” and says students can expect to spend significant time in classes, labs and study sessions.

“Having said that, our students are involved in many extracurricular activities, most of which are clubs related to the veterinary profession,” he says.

Is Vet School Worth It?

The educational pathway to a veterinary career is not only lengthy and strenuous, it’s also pricey.

According to the AVMA, the average educational debt among 2019 graduates of U.S. veterinary schools who found full-time employment prior to graduation was about $150,000. Their average entry-level starting salary was significantly less, slightly under $85,000.

Experts on the veterinary profession say that money is not typically the primary motivation for entering this field. “Money can be a touchy subject, especially since we work in a caring profession and generally prefer to tackle medical rather than financial challenges,” DeMarco says.

“Honestly, the salary-to-debt ratio is poor,” DeMarco says, but veterinarians “don’t usually enter the field because they expect it to be lucrative.”

It’s important for vet school hopefuls to understand that veterinarians typically earn far less than physicians. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for U.S veterinarians was $93,830 in May 2018 while it was $208,000 or more for physicians and surgeons within human medicine.

How to Become a Vet Tech: Career, Requirements & Salary

The BLS predicts that the number of U.S. veterinary jobs by 2028 will be 18% higher than in 2018. That is much better than the norm among U.S. professions, since the average projected growth rate across all fields is only 5%.

Dr. Katie Woodley, a Colorado-based general practice veterinarian who incorporates holistic treatment methods into her practice, says one of the advantages of the veterinary profession is that there are many types of jobs within the veterinary field. Vets, then, can choose the path that suits them.

The career path that most people imagine when they think of veterinarians is the role of a general practitioner who takes care of personal pets, Solomon says, but vets may treat small animals, food animals or exotic animals.

Additionally, although a majority of vets work in private practice, that isn’t true for all vets. “Veterinarians can also be found in research, public health, the military and regulatory medicine (such as the CDC, EPA and FDA),” Solomon wrote in an email, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, respectively.

DeMarco says the job outlook for vets is positive. “There are many potential career paths, from small animal doctor to state health inspector, and from researcher to relief vet.”

Plus, according to the AVMA, there are 22 types of veterinary specialists, vets who have pursued veterinary training beyond vet school, developed expertise within a particular area of veterinary medicine and passed an exam in that field.

How Much Do Veterinarians Make?

For example, poultry veterinarians are experts on caring for turkeys, chickens and ducks, and theriogenologists concentrate on animal reproduction.

Though the veterinary field is diverse and includes many types of jobs, one thing that nearly every veterinary specialty shares in common is an abundance of intellectually demanding work. Krull notes that the veterinary field is a challenging one “with long hours, tough cases, lots to know.”

veterinary schools in texas

A career in veterinary medicine is where the love of animals meets the love of science. Though passion in those areas is an essential ingredient, it is not sufficient for success in the field. This is where great schools come in. The number of veterinary schools in the US is tiny compared to the number of medical schools in general. However, this is bound to change. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for veterinarians will grow in the near future, with a projected job growth rate of 16% or more

Most veterinarians work in private clinics or hospitals, earning a median salary of $99k a year. However, some schools do not train veterinarians exclusively for private practice or at a hospital. Some programs train more broadly, preparing students for careers in research or for work with local, state, and federal stakeholders. The path to becoming a veterinarian can begin as early as high school and as late as the junior year of college. 

The undergraduate course of study does not necessarily make or break anyone’s chances of getting into a vet med program as long as the prerequisite coursework in the basic sciences and math is completed. With that said, a bachelor’s degree in English or Philosophy should not deter anyone from preparing for or applying to veterinary medicine programs.

With the number of veterinary schools being so small, it should not be a shock that Texas only has two veterinary schools, despite being home to a plethora of educational institutions. According to Wikipedia, Texas has the most farms and the highest revenue earned from livestock and livestock products, making it an ideal state for aspiring veterinarians looking to work with food animals or in providing veterinary services to rural areas.

Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (College Station, TX)

Texas A&M University
Ronw526, SbisaCC BY-SA 3.0

The Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences is one of the top veterinary schools in the country, consistently ranking among the top ten programs on the US News & World Report each year. It is one of the most prestigious and established veterinary medicine programs in the country. Located in the Bryan-College Station metro area, one of the largest in Texas, the college is ideally situated to help bridge laboratory instruction with professional and educational opportunities in the world beyond the campus.

The College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences offers a strong curriculum, designed to train the best veterinarians in Texas and throughout the country. The first three years are focused on providing vet students foundational knowledge in the relevant sciences, such as animal physiology and histology. 

Education in the sciences is interspersed with courses in professional and clinical skills that prepare students for the experiential component of their education and training. Beginning in the third year, students begin to specialize in specific career tracks in treating companion animals, horses, or food animals. The years of preclinical coursework culminate into clinical rotations within each training track in the fourth year.

At Texas A&M, training does not end at clinical rotations; newly graduated veterinarians can opt for one-year internships where they work alongside experts in their chosen discipline. Interns can specialize in internal medicine, small animals, large animals, and zoological medicine and are assigned substantial primary care responsibilities and receive intensive, hands-on training. 

The Small Animal Internship program has a notably high residency placement rate of 60-100% each year. Another program that stands out is the Underserved Communities Internship. In this program, interns receive comprehensive and intensive clinical training focusing on communicating and engaging with diverse and underserved communities while caring for their small animals.

Residencies are another critical component of veterinary medical training, and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences offers ample opportunities in this area. The main disciplines are Veterinary Pathobiology, Small Animals, and Large Animals, which subdivide into such specialties as Radiology, Surgery, Comparative Medicine, Oncology, Anesthesia, and more.

How to Become a Vet Tech | BestColleges

The college’s suite of professional and educational opportunities includes externships, private practices, and programs in Texas as well as across other states. While the college encourages employers and organizations to post their externships on the college’s platform, students interested in externship opportunities must individually and proactively secure them.

Whether working in an internship or as part of one of the outstanding residency programs, veterinary students are integrated as part of the primary care team at the renowned Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The hospital handles over 24,000 cases each year, employing over 400 veterinarians and staff. Generating over $15 million each year, VMTH is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and provides the most comprehensive, quality care for all species of animals in the region and the nation.

With all of this said, what does it take to get into such a high-caliber program? The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences receives applications from hundreds of highly qualified candidates from all over the country. The average overall GPA of resident and non-resident candidates for the entering class in Fall 2020 was between 3.77 and 3.86. The average overall GPA for science courses falls within the same range, making the applicant pool quite competitive. While the average GRE score is not published on the college’s admission stats page, submission of GRE scores is required, along with 53 hours of prerequisite coursework. The admissions committee looks for candidates with a demonstrable passion for the health and welfare of animals, so every hour spent volunteering at a clinic or working in the care of animals goes a long way.

Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine (Lubbock, TX)

Texas Tech University
Elred, TTUSW Library, marked as public domain

Being the second school on this list does not mean being last or least in quality and excellence. Even the newest programs can be promising. The Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine is perhaps the latest addition to the country’s growing list of veterinary medicine programs. The school is set to admit its second class in Fall 2021. 

The school received Provisional Accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (COE). This status is granted to vet med programs in their incipient stages. Programs must demonstrate progress over five years.

Unlike most veterinary schools, TTUSVM only accepts applicants from Texas and New Mexico. Initial applications must be submitted via the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) and, upon invitation, must subsequently submit a Secondary Application. Applicants are more than their grades, so an applicant’s unique qualities and potential contributions must be gleaned from materials submitted as part of the Secondary Application, the interview, and the results of the CASPer test, which applicants are required to submit as part of the application process. Like most veterinary medicine schools, the school requires prerequisite coursework in basic sciences such as General Biology, Genetics, and Chemistry.

No profile of the entering class of Fall 2020 has been published, so we cannot vouch for the selectivity of the Admissions Committee. In 2020, 60 students were admitted to the inaugural group. 

Nevertheless, the Texas and New Mexico residency requirement narrow the applicant pool quite a bit, ensuring smaller class sizes and, in turn, effective training and education for current and future TTUSVM students. Limiting admissions to Texas and New Mexico residents also ensures that the fledgling school can focus on its mission to bring high-quality and compassionate veterinary services to rural and regional communities. One of the attributes the Admissions Committee looks for is the likelihood of committing to service of rural and regional communities throughout Texas.

Last but not least, applicants are required to come in with some exposure to the field. While there is no minimum number of hours needed, the Admissions Committee recommends that applicants gain some experience in a veterinary or clinical setting. It is not enough to simply state interest in veterinary medicine; it is essential to demonstrate said interest. As the saying goes: show, don’t tell.

The school employs faculty who are experts in their field. TTUSVM faculty represent a broad range of specialties and interests, from physiology and theriogenology to food animal medicine and surgery. Many received their education and training from some of the top veterinary medicine programs in the country. 

One of the newest additions to the faculty roster, Jennifer Koziol, Associate Professor of Food Animal Medicine and Surgery, spent five years as a clinical assistant professor of theriogenology and production medicine in the Purdue University College of Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. 

The curriculum at TTUSVM follows a traditional, four-year structure. For the first three years, students gain the foundational knowledge and skills needed for success in a clinical setting. Coursework in the first three years includes microbiology, systemic pathology, and theriogenology. Courses on clinical skills and presentations are interspersed with introductory science courses. The three years of foundational training and instruction culminate into the Clinical Year, in which students partake in 4-week clinical rotations in the major areas of veterinary medicine.

TTUSVM, despite being a very young school, has already set the foundations for a successful program that will train the next generation of veterinarians.

Best Pre-Veterinary Studies colleges in Texas

Average Tuition
Student Teacher RatioEnrolled Students
Lubbock Christian University Lubbock, TX    18 : 11,770
Tarleton State University Stephenville, TX    30 : 113,166
Northwest Vista College San Antonio, TX    94 : 118,010
Palo Alto College San Antonio, TX    72 : 110,763
El Paso Community College El Paso, TX    67 : 129,080
South Plains College Levelland, TX    35 : 19,212
Angelina College Lufkin, TX    45 : 14,672

what degree do you need to be a veterinarian

Veterinarians are trained to examine and treat small and large animals, ranging from small household pets to large zoo animals. If you want to become a vet, you need to be committed to your career to meeting academic and training requirements. It can take up to eight years to complete degrees required to get hired into veterinary jobs, and you’ll need to engage in continuing education throughout your career.

Postsecondary Education

Would-be veterinarians must hold a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college before moving on to veterinary medicine school. Undergraduate work should focus on chemistry, biology, zoology, physiology, microbiology and anatomy. Courses in communications, math and the social sciences can also increase the likelihood of you getting accepted into one the 28 accredited veterinary medicine schools in the United States.

Veterinary Medicine School

A doctorate in veterinary medicine is the next step in a veterinarian’s educational journey. You must complete your doctoral degree at one of the country’s accredited veterinary medical schools. It typically takes four years to complete the full program. Courses you will take as you complete veterinary medicine school include anatomy, physiology and disease prevention. The academic training consists of laboratory and classroom work. The last year of veterinary medicine school includes clinical work, a time when you get the chance to study, examine and treat animals firsthand. In some ways the curriculum is more difficult than the one taken by physicians, who only need to learn the physiology of one species.

Internships and Certifications

Admissions counselors at veterinary medicine schools review hands-on experience you have working with animals. By completing college internships at facilities such as local zoos, animal farms, veterinary hospitals and clinics, you can gain the experience some veterinary medicine schools require before they admit you into their programs. You may also need to complete a residency if you plan a career as a specialist practitioner.

Licensing Examination

State laws require that you take and pass a licensing examination created by organizations such as the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. There are 360 multiple choice questions on the examination. The maximum amount of time you have to finish the test is 7.5 hours. Areas covered on the test include analyzing injuries, treating diseases, laboratory procedures and diagnostic imaging. Additionally, some states require you to take and pass separate licensing examinations.

Continuing Education

To stay abreast of changes in the field, many veterinarians continue their educations by studying for certification examinations offered by organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Certification examinations are offered in areas such as surgery, food animal practice and internal medicine.

how to become a veterinary assistant

Many veterinary assistants choose to earn a certificate through a non-degree program, which can take up to a year to complete. Certifications can be earned through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) or the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. There is also a two-year Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology.

Employers also prefer applicants that have had previous experience working with animals, such as volunteer work at a local animal shelter or animal rescue organization.

The first step to becoming a veterinary assistant is either having your high school diploma or GED equivalency. For some practices, having a high school education is good enough to start a career as a veterinary assistant. Certifications aren’t required, but most offices prefer applicants that have gone through a training program. 

If you go through a program like CareerStep’s online veterinary assistant certification, you will be trained to know more about key topics like animal anatomy, animal restraint techniques, and surgery and emergency care. 

how to become a vet tech

As mentioned above, the requirements to become a vet tech vary by state and specialty. There are different regional laws that define the scope of practice in this field. For example, states such as New Jersey do not require their vet techs to be professionally credentialed. Other states such as Tennessee or Indiana require that these animal healthcare workers be licensed and registered, respectively.

For areas requiring professional certification, registration, or licensure, the requirements typically involve completing two to four years of postsecondary education at an approved institution, in addition to paying an application fee and maintaining the credential through the completion of continuing education (CE) hours.

Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide for how to become a vet tech:

STEP 1: Graduate from high school or get a diploma-equivalent like a GED. In addition to a love of animals and empathy, vet techs typically have strong backgrounds in science with high marks in classes such as biology, physiology (if offered), and chemistry. Due to the hands-on lab work involved in many vet tech positions, students must be comfortable handling sensitive scientific instruments, conducting tests, and interpreting results. Some people at this stage may find it useful to volunteer in animal clinics, shelters, or other facilities handling furry, feathered, or scaly-skinned patients.

STEP 2: Complete an accredited degree program in veterinary technology or animal science (two to four years). Regardless of one’s state of residence, it’s advisable to seek out associate or bachelor’s degree programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVTEA evaluates factors such as a program’s comprehensiveness of curricula, student outcomes, quality of facilities, finances, and admissions processes.

Admissions committees at CVTEA-accredited programs generally call for official high school transcripts (with coursework specified above); official test scores (SAT or ACT, and TOEFL for non-native speakers of English); undergoing a background check; providing proof of immunizations and health insurance; and paying an application fee.

Some of the more competitive programs may call for veterinary experience, letters of recommendation, or candidate interviews as well. Typical courses in these veterinary technology programs include mammalian anatomy & physiology; veterinary medical calculations; pathology; parasitology; veterinary clinic management; research methods; animal nursing; anatomy & physiology; microbiology; pharmacology; diagnostic imaging; animal dentistry; clinical toxicology; anesthesia; and veterinary medical ethics.

There are both on-campus and online vet tech schools available. It’s crucial to note that some state credentialing entities may waive the education requirement if a vet tech has several years of experience. Please verify regional requirements with local boards, a list of which is provided by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVB), or reference the “Vet Tech Licensing & Renewal By State” chart below.

STEP 3: Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (timeline and state requirements vary). This test—commonly referred to as the VTNE—is offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The VTNE is a typical requirement for licensure, certification, or registration as a vet tech in most U.S. states. As a proxy for program quality, national law mandates that schools must disclose their three-year, VTNE first-time passing rate among program graduates.

Prospective students are encouraged to check out their program’s pass rate on this important exam to verify that past students have met national standards. This $320 exam is offered during three monthlong periods annually and tests candidates’ knowledge in nine distinct domains: pharmacy & pharmacology; surgical nursing; dentistry; laboratory procedures; animal care and nursing; diagnostic imaging; anesthesia; emergency medicine; and pain management.

STEP 4: Apply for state credentialing (timeline and state requirements vary). As mentioned above, vet tech credentialing standards vary by state but typically involve sending official transcripts from a CVTEA-accredited program; submitting VTNE scores; and paying an application fee. Some states such as Washington also require a state examination as part of their credentialing process, and others ask for official proof of American citizenship, passport photos, or a background check.

States also vary by the nomenclature of their credentialing in the profession, whether it be registered veterinary technician (RVT), certified veterinary technician (CVT), or licensed veterinary technician (LVT). For more information on the professional credentialing process, please reference the section below or individual state program pages.

STEP 5: Renew credential and complete continuing education (CE) requirements (timeline and state requirements vary). Vet techs must maintain their professional licensure, registration, or certification through the completion of CE hours. These can be fulfilled through qualified conferences, publications, presentations, online coursework, and other methods. The types of approved CE vary by region. A list of every state’s credentialing requirements, agencies, and CE information is in the vet tech licensing chart below.

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