Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Fola Shade
Are you an international student? Are you interested in learning more about Veterinary Medicine? Do you get overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information you see online? If so, you need not search further because you will find the answer to that question in the article below.
To get more information on Veterinary Medicine. You can also find up-to-date, related articles on Collegelearners.
For those who love animals and enjoy science, a career as a veterinarian might be a good fit. These health care providers have doctorates in veterinary medicine, and their doctoral education includes lessons on how to care for a variety of nonhuman creatures ranging from household pets and farm animals to aquatic creatures and zoo animals.
“You get to learn about the large and small animals,” says Dr. Jim Carlson, a veterinarian outside Chicago who provides conventional and alternative therapies to animals.
“That’s unique to our profession, because we come out (of vet school) having a basic knowledge of all animals, from ants to elephants,” says Carlson, adding that most of his patients are small animals like dogs and cats.[
Dr. Tony DeMarco – a veterinarian who owns the Lee’s Summit, Missouri, branch of GoodVets, a national network of animal hospitals – says one of the best aspects of being a vet is the broad variety of patients. “I might see a cute new family puppy first thing in the morning and then evaluate a sick cat for surgery,” he wrote in an email.
Communication can be a challenge in the veterinary field, DeMarco notes.
“Veterinarians are often compared to pediatricians because our patients aren’t able to talk to us,” he says. “We often have to perform some detective work in collaboration with the owner to deduce a pet’s problem from medical history, behavior, and symptoms.”
Vets need to be adept at interacting with both humans and animals, says Dr. Becky Krull, a Wisconsin-based veterinarian and co-owner of a veterinary practice.
“I think loving animals is a given but what is often overlooked is that you must be a people person,” Krull wrote in an email. “There is a person affiliated with every patient I have and that person is paying the bill! You need to be able to communicate effectively to educate and provide value to your services.”Play Video
How to Get Into Vet School
To become a competitive veterinary school applicant, it is essential to take all of the prerequisite courses for your target school, experts say, and it’s important to understand that different vet schools have different prerequisite requirements.
Dr. Robin Solomon, a licensed and practicing veterinarian in New York who wrote a chapter about the profession for the book, “Healthcare Heroes: The Medical Careers Guide,” notes that to qualify for vet school, it’s typically necessary to take undergraduate courses in advanced math, basic sciences like biology and chemistry, plus animal science.[
The American Veterinary Medical Association notes in its admissions 101 guide for aspiring veterinarians that there is no particular college major that someone needs to pursue in order to qualify for vet school. The association suggests that vet school applicants highlight their experience with animals, as well as leadership and communication skills.
Solid grades are essential in order to be a competitive applicant, the association adds, with the caveat that vet schools don’t expect a perfect GPA. “Although a 4.0 will certainly help you, it’s not an absolute necessity,” the association states.
Participation in 4-H, the National FFA Organization – formerly Future Farmers of America – and other similar organizations is “great experience” for vet school hopefuls, according to the association. So is volunteering at animal shelters or animal rescues, the association notes, adding that it’s “very important” to either volunteer or work for a veterinarian.
“Not only does it expose you to your potential career (so you know what you’re getting into, so to speak), but it also might provide a good recommendation for you from the veterinarian,” the association states on its website. If you gain research lab experience or work with veterinarians who treat different species of animals, “that’s a bonus that can make you more appealing to a veterinary school admissions committee,” the association explains.
Dr. Brian Collins, a veterinarian on the faculty of the highly ranked Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in New York, says Cornell looks for a variety of traits when assessing applicants.
“Half of our admissions review is dedicated to making sure the applicant has the academic background to succeed in our curriculum,” he wrote in an email, noting that the rest of the admissions process is designed to assess the applicant as an individual. “Scientific curiosity, compassion, empathy, resilience, demonstrated problem-solving skills and people-skills are additional characteristics we value and look for in an applicant.”
Krull suggests that showcasing positive personality traits is one way to improve the odds of vet school acceptance.
“Some schools do personal interviews as well, so you must be charismatic and present yourself in a way that convinces them you are a good fit,” she says. “Since burnout, compassion fatigue and suicide rates are rampantly on the rise in this profession, schools may also now be looking at students who have resilience, grit and the self-care needed to survive school and the profession.”
Most vet schools require applicants to submit GRE General Test scores, and some also require a GRE Subject Test in biology. It is occasionally possible to submit scores from the MCAT medical school entrance exam instead of the GRE General Test, but that depends on a vet school’s admissions policies.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges provides a free “Profile of Admitted Students” online tool that prospective vet students can use to find out what credentials are typical among accepted students at individual vet schools.
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.
Steps to Take to Become a Vet
Experts on veterinary medical education emphasize that it is highly rigorous, but they say the vet school workload is manageable for hardworking, bright students.
Dr. Carmen Fuentealba, dean of the Long Island University College of Veterinary Medicine in New York, says students who have done well in college and high school should not fear vet school since they have already proven themselves academically.
“There is not going to be any reason why you shouldn’t succeed when you go to vet school,” she says.
Veterinary school typically lasts for four years and veterinary students usually have a bachelor’s degree, which means that the journey into the veterinary profession is a long one. Aspiring vets can expect to devote about eight years to their higher education if they spend four years in college and four years in vet school earning a doctor of veterinary medicine, or D.V.M., degree.
Further, people who wish to specialize within a particular field of veterinary medicine such as surgery or pathology often seek extra training after vet school through veterinary internship and residency programs. For those individuals, over a decade of education after high school is typical.
“Advanced training programs such as internships and residencies are not required,” Collins explains. “Residency programs allow veterinarians to receive advanced training and certification in a clinical discipline.”
Successful completion of an internship is a prerequisite for most residency programs, Collins adds.
Although someone can become a vet without completing a veterinary internship or residency, he or she must have a license.
“Graduates of accredited U.S. veterinary colleges must be licensed in the state(s) in which they intend to practice, through an application process determined by that state,” Collins says. “The most important requirements for licensure are successful completion of the veterinary degree and a passing score on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination,” or NAVLE, he adds.
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.
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.
For example, poultry veterinarians are experts on caring for turkeys, chickens and ducks, and theriogenologists concentrate on animal reproduction.
What Are The Requirements To Get Into Vet School?
As little kids, many of us dream of being veterinarians and saving the lives of animals. But for some of us, the dream never goes away, and as we start to think seriously about what we want to be when we grow up, vet school becomes a more and more real possibility.
So what are the requirements to get into vet school? What can you start doing now to help your chances of getting into vet school? The short answer is that the requirements for vet school vary by school, but there are some standard steps you can take to improve your chances of admission and help yourself on the path to becoming a vet!
Do I Need to go to Vet School to be a Vet?
In short, yes. There are many careers working with animals that do not require you to attend vet school, such as being a wildlife biologist or a veterinary technician. But to be a vet in the United States, you have to attend vet school. There are only 30 vet schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in the US. While some students choose to attend veterinary school abroad, most US vets will attend vet school in the US.
Vet school is very competitive! Last year, there were more than twice as many applicants as admissions places available. So you want to start early doing everything you can to set yourself apart and improve your chances of getting into vet school. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means that it takes perseverance!
What Can I Do Before College?
First of all, if you’ve already started college and now decided that you want to pursue a career as a vet, it’s not too late! You can talk to your school’s pre-vet advisor about how to best make a plan. If your school does not have a pre-vet advisor, don’t worry! You can seek advice from your pre-vet club (or the pre-vet club of a local school if your school doesn’t have one) or directly from the APVMA.
If you haven’t started college yet and are already planning for your veterinary career, great! Here are some things you can do to help yourself be a competitive applicant for vet school.
- Work with a vet. Looking for ways to work with a vet, from interning to volunteering, is a great start. When you apply to vet school, you’ll be asked to estimate the hours you’ve spent working with a vet and will need a letter of recommendation from a vet who knows you well. It’s never too early to start! In addition, this experience will help you learn more about the veterinary career and see if it’s the right fit for you.
- Work with animals. Any work with animals (at a pet store, farm, zoo, or shelter, for example) can be listed on your vet school application and help make it stronger. It can also help you learn important skills and discover the aspects of working with animals that you’re passionate about. (Jobs and volunteering that aren’t related to animals can be part of your vet school application too!)
- Take science courses. No matter which vet school you choose, you will have lots of science requirements to satisfy! Taking science courses in high school can help you prepare well for this course of study and show a commitment to colleges when you apply to a science-based major or degree program.
- Research colleges with vet school in mind. When it comes time to start choosing colleges, take a look at how they help pre-vet students prepare to apply to vet school. Is there a pre-vet advisor? Are the courses you need available on campus, or will you have to take them at another school or online? It’s better to research first than to get surprised!
- Keep track of your experience! This is a good tip no matter what career you have in mind. Find a place, whether it’s an electronic document or an actual folder, where you can keep track of your experiences, awards, hours, classes, skills, and assignments that pertain to your veterinary career path. You don’t need to track everything perfectly, but keeping notes of your experiences will make it that much easier to make a resume, ask for recommendation letters, apply for jobs and internships, and fill out your vet school application when it comes time for getting into vet school.
What Should I do in College?
Once you’re in college, whether or not you are in a pre-vet program, it’s time to get serious about the requirements for vet school. So what should you do? Whether you’ve had vet school on the brain since day 1 or you are now on a new path, here are some suggestions for making sure you meet the requirements for vet school during your college career.
- Talk to your advisor. If you didn’t enter college with vet school in mind, the first step is to talk to your advisor about what changes to your major or coursework might be required. Don’t get discouraged! If your advisor doesn’t know, talk to someone who does. You may have to add a few summer classes or adjust your schedule to catch up, but it’s never too late to follow your passion if you’re dedicated.
- Research vet school course requirements. Every vet school is different, but you’ll need to have taken the courses required by a vet school to apply there. The requirements can be very specific! The best thing to do is to check the updated required course list by school and make sure that you’re scheduled to meet the minimum requirements for any school to which you plan to apply.
- Plan your schedule carefully. The earlier you can check the required course list and start planning your schedule, the better! Some courses may not be offered by your school or may only be available in certain semesters. To avoid getting surprised, it’s best to plan ahead. If you have a pre-vet advisor, you can work with him or her on a plan. An updated PDF chart of the prerequisites for each vet school is also available.
- Get good grades. This one may seem obvious, but grades in your courses, particularly your science courses, are a large part of your application to vet school. Most vet schools will look very carefully at your choice of courses in the last three or four semesters and will generally be looking for a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
- Invest your break time wisely. Use your winter and summer breaks to advance your career! Look for internships, jobs, travel programs, or volunteer opportunities that allow you to do scientific research or to work with a vet or with animals. These activities can greatly enhance your application.
- Keep earning and tracking your hours! Research hours (in any field of science), hours where your work in any capacity is supervised by a vet, and hours working with animals in any capacity will be a part of your vet school application, so keep collecting these hours, and keep tracking them. Working with a vet is important, so look for these opportunities, and don’t be afraid to start in less desirable positions and work your way up to show your commitment.
Remember that you will need letters of recommendation for vet school, so make your decisions with that in mind. One will be from an advisor, one from a veterinarian, and generally one will be from a teacher in a science course. Plan ahead! Choose jobs, research positions, volunteer positions, and opportunities with these letters in mind, build a relationship, and keep the lines of communication open so that when it comes time to ask for a recommendation letter, you are ready.
- Join relevant clubs and organizations. Joining your school’s pre-vet club can help give you opportunities to earn hours, hear speakers, and have a support system to help with the process of applying to vet school. Attending the APVMA conference (whether as a group or alone) or attending veterinary study abroad programs or veterinary travel programs can also be a great way to enhance your application and build your pre-vet support community. Taking a leadership role in any clubs or organizations, but particularly those related to animals, science, or veterinary medicine, will help your application stand out.
- Take the GRE. For most schools the GRE, a standardized test much like the SAT, is one of the requirements to get into vet school. There are free self-study programs and apps available online, as well as paid prep courses and study guides. You can start with a free practice test online and plan your preparation from there! Many students applying to non-veterinary grad schools will also have to take the GRE (it isn’t veterinary-specific), so you should be able to find a study buddy on your campus. GRE results are valid for five years, so this is a requirement you can complete early if you find that you have the time to get it out of the way.
- Start your application early! Most vet schools in the US use a shared application called the VMCAS, which is a lot like the Common App is for undergraduate schools: one shared application, and some supplements by school. Generally you will submit the application in September of your senior year. The VMCAS has lots of tricky rules and requirements, so it’s best to start early and be well ahead of deadlines. You may find that communicating with others who are going through the same process, such as in your pre-vet club or the APVMA Facebook group, is a great way to ask questions and get support.
If you apply for the September deadline, you will start to hear about interview offers in December, and will generally choose your school by the spring.
How does Loop Abroad help with Getting into Vet School?
This is a great question! Whether you are in high school, college, or currently changing your academic path, a Loop Abroad program can help you with getting into vet school. Whether you travel with Loop for two weeks or a whole semester, your hands-on courses will be taught to your small group by a vet. This means that you’ll leave the program with:
- Veterinary hours. Each two-week program awards approximately 40 veterinary hours.
- Vet recommendation letter. Participants will get to know their vet personally and, if they’ve worked hard to stand out and make a good impression, can request a recommendation letter for vet school, job applications, or internships. Loop Abroad can provide all students with a letter that details their experience and whether it was completed successfully.
- Varied animal experience. Work with small animals, exotics, zoo animals, marine life, and more in a variety of settings, from clinics to sanctuaries.
- College credit. You can earn 3 credits per two-week course, which means the courses can be listed on your VMCAS.
- PVSA. American students are eligible for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for their service hours completed during a Loop Abroad program.
- Resume-building skills. Learn resume-building veterinary skills that can enhance your application and help you land key internships and jobs and impress employers.
Vet Schools: Average GRE scores & GPA for Admissions
The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program is for those who love animals and enjoy science. Veterinarians (Vets) are healthcare providers who have a DVM degree, which equips them with expertise in caring for a range of animals, from household pets to zoo animals. From an ant to an elephant, Vets know all sorts of non-human creatures.
Fresh veterinarians earn an average of $96,000 after receiving a DVM degree, which is 4-5 years of study. Experienced Vets can earn up to $150,000. This is a lucrative profession, and its average salary is much higher than other college graduates. Vet school graduates of the top 15 programs have a 100 percent employment rate with the highest employability in Texas, Florida, and California. The Vet doctor’s job market will grow by 6% per annum.
Nearly all of the top 28 DVM programs require the GRE general test score. Most DVM programs do not have any minimum GRE thresholds. Nevertheless, a lot of Vet schools do have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0+. I would recommend that if you have a low GPA, then you should first check with the program before applying. Since many top U.S. schools do not offer the DVM program, getting into the select few can be competitive. It would help if you strived to do well in all aspects of your Vet school application.
Here are the top 28 Vet programs and the respective average GRE scores and average GPAs of their admitted applicants. These scores are also available on the Vet schools’ website.Show 10253050100 entriesSearch:
|US News Rankings||School Name||Average GRE Quant Score||Average GRE Verbal Score||Average GRE AWA Score||Average GPA|
|1||University of California—Davis||158||157||4.0||3.84|
|2||Cornell University||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||GPA not given|
|3||Colorado State University||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.6|
|4||North Carolina State University||157||155||4.18||3.8|
|5||Ohio State University||155||155||4.0||3.6|
|6||Texas A&M University–College Station||157||158||4.2||3.8|
|7||University of Pennsylvania||157||157||4.0||3.61|
|8||University of Wisconsin–Madison||157||157||4.6||3.65|
|9||University of Florida||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.56|
|10||University of Georgia||154||154||4.5||3.6|
|11||University of Minnesota–Twin Cities||155||156||4.0||3.75|
|13||Purdue University–West Lafayette||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.75|
|15||Iowa State University||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.6|
|16||Washington State University||GRE Scores NOT AVAILABLE||3.6|
|17||Michigan State University||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.5|
|18||Virginia Tech – University of Maryland||154||155||4.5||3.56|
|19||Kansas State University||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.6|
|20||University of Missouri||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.75|
|21||University of Tennessee–Knoxville||151||154||4.0||3.6|
|22||Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge||154||153||4.0||3.8|
|23||University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign||156||153||4.5||3.6|
|24||Mississippi State University||GRE is NOT REQUIRED||3.8|
|25||Oregon State University||152||155||4.1||3.7|
|26||Oklahoma State University||153||152||4.0||3.6|
|28||Western University of Health Sciences||151||151||4.0||3.24|
Steps to Becoming a Veterinarian
There are 30 veterinary schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in the U.S. There were nearly 6,800 applicants competing for approximately 2,700 openings in 2013. In other words, it is very competitive to gain admission to a veterinary school.
Admission requirements for veterinary schools have many things in common; however the specific requirements may vary among schools. It is therefore advisable to become familiar with the entrance requirements (PDF) early in your career as this may affect course selection especially after your first year of college.
Most U.S. veterinary schools utilize the centralized application service operated by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (Veterinary Medical College Application Service-VMCAS). This application service accepts your application and your letters of evaluation and distributes them to each school you indicate. Applicants should make sure to submit their transcripts to VMCAS. Many schools have a supplemental application as well and require that this information be sent directly to the school.
Steps to Take
In High School: Start preparing as early as you can
Take all the mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics courses which are available to you in middle and high school; they will open up many career opportunities in college including veterinary medicine.
In College: Undergraduate Degree Program
Choose a degree program which will provide you a strong grounding in the biological and physical sciences. Make a list of degree programs at various universities and colleges and visit them individually. Find a program that will suit your needs the best. There are various undergraduate pathways to study prior to be admitted to vet schools.
Penn State Program
All the required courses for you to get admitted to most vet schools are required in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Program at Penn State.
Essential College Criteria
Criteria that you should accomplish during your undergraduate degree before your application to Veterinary Colleges
- Grade Point Average (GPA): Maintain a competitive GPA, preferably 3.5 or higher. Most veterinary schools examine courses taken in the last 3-4 semesters closely.
- Animal and Clinical Experience: Volunteer with a veterinarian to gain wide variety of animal and clinical experience, and appreciation for the veterinary medical field. This might be an opportunity to find out if veterinary medicine is for you.
- Graduate Record Examinations: You think that you are done after taking SATs or ACTs for your college applications. Not quite! The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is widely accepted by most veterinary colleges while MCAT is another standardized test that is accepted by some in addition to by Medical Schools. Check each school’s web page for their target standardized test scores.
- Letters of Recommendation: Choose three individuals to provide letters of recommendation. One is required from an academic adviser; one is required from a veterinarian; and the third one can be from an individual of your choice (typically one of your course instructors). It is important to get to know your academic adviser and/or professors during your college education. Some schools may require letters from two veterinarians. The application will give you a choice to waive your right to see letters of evaluation. You also have the choice not to waive that right and therefore request to see the letters after your application has been evaluated. While it is your right to see the letters, our advice is to waive the right to examine the letters. Evaluators will know before they write the letter if you have waived the right to see the letters or not. Some schools will think that evaluators may be hesitant to make negative comments about students do not waive their right to examine the evaluations. This can influence the evaluation of that letter by the admission committee.
- Leadership and communication skills; and co-curricular activities: It is highly recommended that you get involved in student club activities, such as, Pre-Vet club which will provide you numerous opportunities to serve in your community which will provide you to interact with people from all walks of life. Make effort to hold an officer position or to serve on a committee which will provide numerous opportunities to gain leadership and communications skills. Remember admission committee is looking for tomorrow’s leaders.
Make sure to have a back-up plan!
Undergraduate Course Requirements
Most U.S. veterinary schools require the following college courses (specific Penn State courses are listed in parentheses):
- Two semesters of general chemistry with lab (CHEM 110, 111, 112, and 113)
- Two semesters of organic chemistry with lab (CHEM 202 and 203; or CHEM 210, 212, and 213)
- One or two semesters of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with laboratory (B M B 211, 212, and 221; or B M B 401 and 402)
- B M B 251: Molecular and Cell Biology is also required by some veterinary colleges
- Two semesters of general biology with labs (BIOL 110, and BIOL 220W, 230W, or 240W).
- Two semesters of physics with lab (PHYS 250 and 251)
- Mathematics–The minimum requirement ranges from algebra and trigonometry to two semesters of calculus and varies with each school. Note that it is a minimum requirement. Most schools do not accept students who have not taken calculus, even if their published requirement is algebra and trigonometry (MATH 140 and 141).
- General education–Penn State students rarely have difficulty meeting this requirement if they meet Penn State’s General Education requirements for graduation.
- The specific number of credits required in each of the above categories may vary among veterinary schools. Thus, it is important to check the specific admissions requirements for each veterinary school.
I am Finishing (Finished) College? Now What?
Most college students traditionally apply to vet schools in the fall of their senior year to meet the deadline of September 15 (generally speaking). Hopefully you will have the entire junior year to prepare to take GRE test and decide on which vet schools and how many vet schools to apply.
There are many factors to consider when choosing which schools to apply. While all 30 veterinary schools are good quality schools, there are different strength(s) that each school has to offer. You just need to match your strengths and desire with theirs when making a decision. We recommend you apply to 5 to 7 schools.
Take time to evaluate schools to determine the best schools for you and save on application costs. Start your VMCAS online application as soon as it becomes available. Ask for your recommendation letters in a timely fashion. Utilize VMCAS’s check-list to send a complete package to them.
After receiving interview offers from the vet schools, you start preparing for the each interview. Consult with your academic adviser, pre-vet club advisers, and career counseling advisers on your campus to prepare for your interviews. Usually Pre-Vet club holds sessions on previous year’s applicants about general do’s and don’ts on veterinary school applications/interviews. April 15 is a general deadline to “accept” or “decline” on admission.
Veterinary Medical Education in the U.S. is 4 years beyond undergraduate degree. After completing the D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) or V.M.D. (Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris) degree, candidates have to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in order to practice in the U.S. Each state has its own licensing procedures and requirements which are listed online.
There are currently 22 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties. Applicants may pursue board certification in a particular specialty or two after obtaining a DVM/VMD degree. You may visit the website of any of the AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organizations by visiting the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties website.
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge. I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.
Veterinary Technician Schools In California
In addition to abundant sunshine and diverse ecosystems, California is also the home to plenty of animals who may find themselves in need of veterinary care. A livestock-producing powerhouse, California is home to 16.9 million cows, goats, sheep, hogs, and turkeys. A state that would be the 59th largest country on earth in terms of landmass, is also the home to 12 zoos, nine aquariums, and four wildlife preserves with large, exotic, and aquatic creatures in abundance.
With a human population of 39.6 million, there are also hundreds of animal rescue facilities, humane societies, and ASPCAs that serve the millions of cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals in California.
As nurses of the animal world, veterinary technicians are an essential part of the web of caretakers that keep these animals healthy and thriving. The array of high-quality and accredited veterinary technician schools in California are as diverse and abundant as the animal population there. Vet tech schools in California that are accredited by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)—the arm of the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) responsible for quality in vet tech education—will ensure that emerging vet techs have all the skills they need to become an integral part of a vet med team.
Veterinary technician schools in California prepare vet techs to perform all the veterinarian-assisting work that is needed in clinical, laboratory, agricultural, and/or zoological settings. Accredited vet tech schools ensure that graduates leave their training with the capacity to assist veterinarians with common diagnostic, surgical, and dental procedures. California vet tech schools also prepare vet techs to maintain clinical cleanliness, work with anesthesia, take inventory, provide basic hands-on care, skillfully operate diagnostic equipment, take and analyze lab samples, educate animal owners, manage offices, and more.
In addition to stellar training opportunities to help the abundant animal population, vet techs in California will also find professional support. The California Registered Veterinary Technician’s Association (CaRVTA) provides vet techs in California with useful career help like networking, conference discounts, industry news, academic articles, industry and product discounts, and information regarding how the vet tech role is progressing in both industry and public awareness.
Aspiring vet techs living – or hoping to live – in the Golden State can keep reading to learn how to become a veterinary technician in California, what to expect from veterinary technician schools in California, and the job outlook and salaries for vet techs in the state.
|SCHOOL WEBSITE||MAIN ADDRESS||ONLINE PROGRAM||AVMA ACCREDITED|
|California State Polytechnic University-Pomona||3801 West Temple Avenue, Pomona, California, 91768||No||Yes|
|Carrington College California-Citrus Heights||7301 Greenback Lane, Ste A, Citrus Heights, California, 95621||No||Yes|
|Carrington College California-Pleasant Hill||380 Civic Dr., Ste. 300, Pleasant Hill, California, 94523||No||Yes|
|Carrington College California-Pomona||901 Corporate Center Dr. Suite 300, Pomona, California, 91768||No||No|
|Carrington College California-Sacramento||8909 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, California, 95826||No||Yes|
|Carrington College California-San Jose||5883 Rue Ferrari, Suite 125, San Jose, California, 95138||No||Yes|
|Carrington College California-San Leandro||15555 E. 14th Street, Suite 500, San Leandro, California, 94578-1977||No||Yes|
|Carrington College California-Stockton||1313 W. Robinhood Drive, Suite B, Stockton, California, 95207||No||Yes|
|Carrington College-Ontario||4580 Ontario Mills Pkwy, Ontario, California, 91764||No||Yes|
|Central Coast College||480 S. Main St, Salinas, California, 93901||No||Yes|
|Cosumnes River College||8401 Center Parkway, Sacramento, California, 95823-5799||No||Yes|
|Foothill College||12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, California, 94022||No||Yes|
|Los Angeles Pierce College||6201 Winnetka Ave, Woodland Hills, California, 91371-0002||No||Yes|
|Modesto Junior College||435 College Ave, Modesto, California, 95350-5800||No||No|
|Mt. San Antonio College||1100 N Grand Ave, Walnut, California, 91789-1399||No||Yes|
|Pima Medical Institute – San Marcos||111 Campus Way, Suite 100 San Marcos, California, 92078||No||Yes|
|Pima Medical Institute-Chula Vista||780 Bay Blvd Suite101, Chula Vista, California, 91910||No||Yes|
|Platt College-Alhambra||1000 S Fremont Ave, Bldg A10, Alhambra, California, 91803||Yes||Yes|
|Platt College-Anaheim||1551 Douglass Road, Anaheim, California, 92806||Yes||Yes|
|Platt College-Ontario||3700 Inland Empire Blvd, Ontario, California, 91764||Yes||Yes|
|Platt College-Riverside||6465 Sycamore Canyon Blvd, Riverside, California, 92507||Yes||Yes|
|San Diego Mesa College||7250 Mesa College Dr, San Diego, California, 92111-4998||No||Yes|
|San Joaquin Valley College||295 East Sierra Ave, Fresno, California, 93710||No||Yes|
|Santa Rosa Junior College||1501 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, California, 95401-4395||No||No|
|Stanbridge University||2041 Business Center Drive, Suite 107, Irvine, California, 92612||No||Yes|
|Yuba College||2088 N Beale Rd, Marysville, California, 95901||No||Yes|
AVMA-Accredited Vet Tech Schools In California
Fortunately for aspiring vet techs, there are 26 veterinary technician programs offered in California schools. 23 of those programs are CVTEA-accredited. Following is a breakdown of the CVTEA-accredited vet tech programs that prepare students for the national and state exams. Note that certain institutions offer programs at multiple campuses, therefore some programs will be grouped together below.
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona, located in Los Angeles County, offers a four-year bachelor of science (BS) program for aspiring vet techs through the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture. A bachelor’s in animal science can offer graduates ample knowledge and experience in the field, which can lead to a better-paying job and more responsibilities as a veterinary technologist.
One of the outstanding features of this program is the number of real-world empirical experiences offered to its students. For example, this Cal State school works with JustFoodForDogs, a specialty dog food supplier, in order to create research-backed nutrition for canines.
Courses for this program include parasitology and animal diseases; fundamentals of animal nutrition; mammalian endocrinology and physiology of reproduction and lactation; biotechnology applications in animal science; and more. The three-year pass rate for first-time VTNE test-takers was 94 percent between 2017 and 2020.
Carrington College California offers an associate of science (AS) in veterinary technology degree that can be completed in two years. This program is 63.5 semester-credit-hours and is offered at the following campuses in CA: Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Pomona, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, and Stockton.
Through work with live animals in clinical externships as well as animal patient simulations, this program gives students a solid foundation for careers in animal healthcare. Courses include an introduction to the veterinary hospital; an introduction to the applied sciences; an introduction to anesthesia and surgical assisting; surgical nursing theory and practice; and more. General education courses are offered online.
First-time pass rates on the VTNE for Carrington College graduates between 2017 and 2020 are as follows: Citrus Heights (78 percent), Ontario (63), Pleasant Hill (58), Sacramento (51), San Jose (62), San Leandro (64), Stockton (41).
Central Coast College located in Salinas, CA, offers an associate of applied sciences (AAS) degree in veterinary technology that can be completed in two years. Courses include anatomy and physiology; veterinary management, medical records, ethics, and jurisprudence; anesthesiology and surgery; veterinary dentistry; veterinary pathology and parasitology; and more.
Program objectives include preparing students to become employees who hold to a high standard of integrity, work ethic, and personal responsibility, preparing students to take the VTNE certification exam, and preparing students for successful employment in their community. From 2016 to 2019, none of the 12 students who took the VTNE passed on the first attempt. From 2019 to 2020, this improved to a 57.1 percent first-time pass rate.
Cosumnes River College, located in Sacramento, CA, offers a two-year associate of science (AS) veterinary technology degree. CRC also offers a one-year certificate of achievement in veterinary technology for students with three years of full-time experience working as an unregistered veterinary assistant. This is a daytime program and students may begin in the fall only.
Courses include pharmacology and anesthesiology for the veterinary technician; advanced veterinary technology; large animal nursing; introduction to diagnostic imaging; large animal disease: pathology; and more. Thirty-seven to 40 credits are required to complete the program, and most courses include two to six hours per week caring for animals.
Shifts may be scheduled during weekends, holidays, and semester breaks. Students must complete a minimum of 300 hours of internship or work experience. Cosumnes River College boasts a three-year, first-time pass rate among its graduates on the VTNE of 94 percent between 2017 and 2020.
Foothill College in Los Altos of the San Francisco Bay Area provides a rigorous, two-year veterinary technology program. It consists of 90 units, including courses such as animal management and clinical skills; comparative veterinary anatomy and physiology for the veterinary technician; animal care skills; clinical pathology methods; and more.
Core values of the program include creating compassionate vet techs who are able to provide excellent care to veterinary patients, as well as carry on compassionate relationships with owners, co-workers, and the community, and who are dedicated to lifelong learning.
In addition to rigorous coursework, Foothill College has collected a list of tongue-in-cheek “You Might Be a Vet Tech If…” statements such as:
- …when you go out to a club and the black light comes on, you check yourself and others for ringworm.
- …pets are more recognizable than their owners.
The three-year, first-time pass rate among Foothill graduates on the VTNE is an impressive 94 percent between 2017 and 2020.
Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA, offers an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. This flexible program has multiple entry points throughout the year and provides many of its more popular general education classes at night or during the summer.
Courses include anatomy and physiology of animals; microbiology; animal health and disease control; principles of animal science; small animal nursing; large animal nursing; lab animal care; and more. The three-year, first-time pass rate among its graduates on the VTNE is above average at 81.5 percent between 2017 and 2020.
Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA, offers an associate of science (AS) degree in registered veterinary technology. This rigorous program combines lectures with active labs that take place in the 26,000-sq.-ft. agriculture building that includes an animal hospital, as well as on the college’s 150-acre working farm.
The program can be completed in two years and coursework transfers to Cal Poly universities and other four-year universities. Courses include medical nursing and animal care; surgical nursing; clinical pathology; animal sanitation and disease control; animal nutrition; veterinary radiography; and more. The degree consists of 88 units and the college had an 89 percent first-time pass rate for the VTNE between 2017 and 2020.
Pima Medical Institute at Chula Vista and San Marcos offer an associate of applied science degree (AAS). The first set of courses is taught using a hybrid learning system that combines both online and on-campus coursework. Courses include food and fiber animals; laboratory procedures for veterinary technicians; diagnostic imaging for veterinary technicians; small animal nursing for veterinary technicians; laboratory animal science; and more.
The program consists of 78.5 credits and includes one externship. The degree takes 18 months to complete and includes 1,775 hours. The VTNE first-time pass rate between 2016 to 2020 for the Chula Vista campus was 67.7 percent. Newly accredited, the VTNE first-time pass rate for the San Marco campus between 2019 and 2020 was 50 percent.
Platt College has four campuses offering an associate degree in veterinary technology. Currently, the AVMA recognizes programs at Platt College campuses in Alhambra, Anaheim, Ontario, and Riverside. In addition, they offer an online program, which will be outlined below.
Courses include veterinary nursing procedures; parasitology; client communications and customer service; veterinary anatomy and physiology; anesthesia; surgical assistance; diagnostic imaging; and more. Students must also participate in a clinical externship. VTNE pass rates follow from 2017 to 2020: Alhambra (59.1 percent); Anaheim (70 percent); Ontario (61.3 percent); Riverside (74.6 percent).
San Joaquin Valley College, located in Fresno, CA, offers a veterinary assistant to veterinary technology bridge program. Designed for students who have already completed a veterinary assistant program, graduates of SJVC’s program will be awarded an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology.
Students participating in SJVC’s program will learn topics including advanced animal patient care, anatomy and physiology, exotic and large animal skills, surgical assisting, and pharmacology. Students train under doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) and will be expected to complete an externship in order to cultivate real-world experience. The three-year first-time VTNE pass rate for graduates of SJVC’s program was 30.4 percent between 2017 and 2020.
Stanbridge University located in Irvine, CA, offers an associate of science (AS) degree in veterinary technology. Students work directly with animals in hands-on training, as well as with state-of-the-art surgical simulators. The program consists of 115.5 quarter-credit-hours and time to completion ranges from 23 to 24 months.
Courses include small animal handling and husbandry; anatomy and physiology of animals; veterinary microbiology; diagnostic imaging; small animal medicine; large animal and equine procedures and public health; veterinary pharmacology; and more. Students also complete a preceptorship. The first-time VTNE pass rate between 2017 and 2020 for Stanbridge graduates was 86 percent.
Yuba College located in Marysville, CA, offers a two-year associate of science degree in veterinary technology. The Yuba College AS degree offers students a range of program options including business management, dental, large animal, public health, shelter medicine, exotic animal/wildlife, small animal emergency and critical care, laboratory animal, and laboratory diagnostics options.
Students begin their experience with a half-day orientation experience to explore the requirements of becoming a veterinary technician, and what they can expect throughout the program. Courses include veterinary physiology and anatomy; pharmacology for veterinary technicians; clinical laboratory techniques; veterinary workplace safety; large animal medicine and nursing; exotic and wildlife medicine; veterinary emergency and critical care; and more.
In addition, students complete three off-campus internship experiences in veterinary facilities supervised by licensed veterinarians or veterinary technicians. Yuba College boasts a 56 percent VTNE first-time pass rate between 2017 and 2020.
Other Vet Tech Schools In California
In order to become a registered veterinary technician in CA without attending an AVMA-accredited program, students must complete “20 semester units, or 30 quarter units or 300 hours of specific education and 4,416 hours of directed clinical practice experience” with specific time-frames (California Veterinary Medical Association).
The following programs including clinical practice experience qualify students to take the registered veterinary technician (RVT) exam:
Modesto Junior College located in Modesto, CA, offers a veterinary technician program as an AS degree or certificate. The associate degree consists of 30 units and students can choose from a small animal science or large animal science option.
Courses include an introduction to animal science; veterinary laboratory procedures; veterinary anatomy, physiology, and terminology; preparation for veterinary surgical and dental assistance; and more. Program outcomes include the demonstration of common surgical, dental, and restraint techniques; the ability to identify the role of a veterinary technician in the field; and the knowledge of proper sanitation and disease prevention techniques, among others. The MJC catalog provides more detailed information about the veterinary technology AS degree.
San Diego Mesa College offers an associate of science (AS) degree in animal health technology. Students completing this program are eligible to become registered veterinary technicians through the state of California. Courses include animal care and management; fundamentals of animal health technology; veterinary office procedures; veterinary clinical pathology; veterinary pharmacology; diseases of domestic animals; animal nursing techniques and anesthesiology; and more. The program is approved by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the Veterinary Medical Board.
Santa Rosa Junior College, located in Santa Rosa, CA, offers a two-year veterinary technician program that can lead to students becoming registered veterinary technicians in the state of California. The program is offered through SRJC’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. Most classes are scheduled in the evenings to facilitate those who work and need to meet the demands of a family.
Courses cover veterinary laboratory and pharmacy procedures; surgical and dental anatomy and assistance; veterinary anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology; small animal disease recognition and transmission control; and more. Students who complete this program and the required number of practical experience hours can take the RVT board exam.
Online Vet Tech Programs For California Students
Fortunately for California students and others who are not able to attend campus regularly, Platt College offers a distance-based associate degree in veterinary technology. Students can earn this degree in as little as 18 months. Students should check with Platt College to make sure the online program is also accredited by the AVMA since this program is not listed as a distance-based program on the AVMA site.
Courses include an introduction to veterinary technology; veterinary medical terminology; clinical pathology; parasitology; veterinary economics; anesthesia; animal nutrition; exotic animal care; and more. There are no VTNE first-time pass rates for the online program at this time.
For other distance-based education programs for vet techs, visit our online veterinary technician schools page.
How To Become A Vet Tech In California
Before enrolling in veterinary technician school in California, aspiring vet techs should ensure that their school is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Here is one common path to becoming a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in California:
- Step 1: Graduate from an AVMA-accredited veterinary technician program. There are currently 23 fully accredited programs in the Golden State. These can range from two to four years. The four-year degree may qualify a candidate to become a veterinary technologist (as opposed to a technician), which involves more advanced training, increased responsibilities, and possibly higher pay.
- Step 2: Pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). This computer-based exam is offered during three one-month testing windows annually.
- Step 3: Pass the California Registered Veterinary Technician Exam. According to the California Veterinary Medical Board (CAVMB). This must be passed within 60 months of passing the VTNE and is offered three times per year.
- Step 4: Apply for licensure as an RVT and renew every two years with 20 hours of continued education (CE) credits.
Strong Outlook For Vet Tech Jobs In California
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021), there will be approximately 18,300 new jobs for veterinary technicians across the country between 2019 and 2029. This predicted growth rate clocks in at 16 percent, which is four times faster than the anticipated growth rate for all occupations during that time period (4 percent).
According to CareerOneStop (2021)—a US Department of Labor data site—the vet tech role is anticipated to be the 6th fastest growing occupation for professionals with an associate degree in that same period. At 21 percent, CareerOneStop also predicts that the occupational growth rate for vet techs in California will be slightly faster than the national average.
In addition to a promising job outlook, there are a number of resources and organizations for these professionals within the state as well. The California Registered Veterinary Technicians Association (CaRVTA) offers an online career center, a mentor program, continued education opportunities, and informative articles. They also host a job board with opportunities at places like Monterey Peninsula Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center, THRIVE Affordable Vet Care, Pet Emergency & Specialty Center East County, and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The CaRVTA also holds a number of conferences and events, including an annual seminar for veterinary techs and assistants every summer. This three-day event includes programs from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. There are also smaller, regional meetings—including those in Southern California and Silicon Valley—that can provide localized professional networking as well. Membership in CaRVTA plus graduation from an accredited veterinary technician school in California can open many doors to a successful career in the field.
Vet Tech Salaries In California
The 109,490 vet techs working across the United States in 2020 made, on average, $37,860 per year. According to the BLS (May 2020), here is how California vet tech salaries compare to vet tech salaries across the United States:
|Number of vet techs employed||109,490||8,950|
|Average annual salary||$37,860||$47,580|
|50th percentile (median)||$36,260||$46,370|
With vet tech salaries in California clocking in at much higher than the national average, aspiring vet techs may also want to consider the cost of living. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC,2020), California is the fourth most expensive region in the United States. Everything in California is more expensive than most other places in the nation, with particularly high costs of housing.
|VETERINARY CAREER||CALIFORNIA JOBS||SALARY DATA (BLS 2020)|
|LOW SALARY (10TH PERCENTILE)||MEDIAN SALARY (50TH PERCENTILE)||HIGH SALARY (90TH PERCENTILE)|
Accreditation And Licensing For Vet Techs In California
As with other states, the main accreditation agency for vet tech schools in California is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This organization weighs a variety of factors, including the quality of the coursework, faculty, facilities, and program outcomes in order to ensure program quality.
Prior to practice as a veterinary technician in the Golden State, a person must become a registered veterinary technician (RVT) with the California Veterinary Medical Board (CAVMB). The application requirements include:
- Passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Passing the California Veterinary Technician Examination (CVTE)
- Submitting a live scan of one’s fingerprints and a copy of one’s diploma
Alternatively, according to the California Registered Veterinary Technicians Association, prospective vet techs in California can qualify for licensure by either:
- Being a licensed, certified, or registered veterinary technician in another state (or Canada) and passing an exam qualified by the CaVMB, in addition to garnering at least 4416 hours of clinical practice over no less than 24 months under a licensed veterinarian, or
- Completing at least 4416 hours of supervised clinical practice over no less than 24 months and 300 hours of approved educational credits
Please note that California RVT licenses are valid for two years and require 20 hours of continued education (CE) for renewal. The complete application instructions are available through the CaVMB.
Best Veterinary Schools and Programs 2021
Veterinarians provide care for animals of all types. These professionals treat illnesses and injuries, perform surgeries, and advise owners on best practices for animal care. Many veterinarians also play an important role in public health, working to ensure the safety of farm animals that serve as food sources and applying veterinary research to human and animal health issues.
Veterinarians earn competitive salaries, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects careers in the field to grow 16% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the national average for all occupations. Veterinarians need a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) to enter licensed practice. DVM programs take four years to complete and require knowledge in biology, along with strong clinical and communication skills.
Occupations in the veterinary field include veterinarian, vet tech, vet assistant, and laboratory animal caretaker. The BLS projects strong growth for most veterinary occupations, likely due to factors including a growing and aging pet population and expanded treatment options for pets.
Education level significantly impacts the earning potential of veterinary professionals. For example, veterinarians, who need a doctorate, typically earn higher salaries than vet techs and lab assistants, who need only a high school diploma or associate degree.
This section details common career paths for graduates of the best veterinary schools, along with the salary potential and projected growth rate for each occupation.
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Commonly known as vet techs, these professionals assist veterinarians and perform a variety of clinical tasks. Vet techs prepare animals for surgery, administer vaccinations, and perform laboratory and diagnostic tests. While the two positions are similar, veterinary technologists often work in research and lab-based roles, while veterinary technicians commonly work in private clinical practices.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
These professionals assist veterinarians and care for animals in clinical and research settings. They may feed and bathe animals, maintain surgical instruments, clean cages and operating rooms, and monitor animals before and after clinical procedures. The responsibilities of veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers are similar to those of vet techs. However, vet techs are more specialized and typically earn higher salaries.
Veterinarians diagnose and treat medical conditions in animals of all types, including pets and livestock. Tasks often include treating wounds, performing surgery, prescribing medication, and advising animal owners about medical conditions and general care practices. While many veterinarians treat pets in private clinical practices, they may also work with farm animals. Other veterinarians secure research positions and work to improve public health and animal welfare.
|CAREER||MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE (2019-2029)|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||$35,320||16%|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||$28,590||16%|
Accreditation for Veterinary Programs
Regardless of program level or specialization area, all veterinary students should choose an accredited school. Accreditation demonstrates that a school or program meets set standards of academic quality, ensuring that learners receive adequate academic and professional preparation. Institutions can receive regional or national accreditation, and programs can earn accreditation from field-specific agencies.
Most veterinary schools, and all schools offering DVM programs, should hold regional accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes six regional accreditation agencies. Without exception, all DVM programs should hold programmatic accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education.
Licensing requirements for veterinarians vary by state. Learners considering DVM programs should consult their state licensing board for details. Veterinarians cannot typically transfer their license between states. However, certain states maintain reciprocity agreements. Regardless of state, candidates for veterinarian licensure need a DVM degree from an AVMA-accredited program.
Veterinarians in all states must pass the NAVLE, a 360-question multiple-choice exam administered by the International Council for Veterinary Assessment. Veterinary candidates typically complete the NAVLE during their final year of study. The council offers testing twice each year, during a four-week period in the fall and a two-week period in the spring.
Some states set additional licensure requirements. For example, in Washington State, veterinarians must pass the Washington State Jurisprudence Examination and complete four hours of HIV/AIDS training.
Courses in a Veterinary Program
While learners can pursue various degrees through the best veterinary schools, the field’s highest degree is the doctor of veterinary medicine. Learners earning a DVM develop broad clinical skills, focusing on the assessment and treatment of various animal species. Doctoral students often specialize in a certain area, such as small or large animals.
The classes below comprise a representative sample of typical DVM courses. Course titles may vary, and not every school offers these courses. However, most of the best doctor of veterinary medicine programs cover the following topics.Introduction to Veterinary AnatomyAll veterinary programs cover animal anatomy, with most dividing the subject into multiple courses. Students typically complete an introductory anatomy course, which often focuses on gross anatomy and neuroanatomy of dogs and cats. Learners often perform dissections and prosections, and they may examine slides, models, and living animals.Small Animal Physical Examination SkillsVeterinarians must understand how to examine various types of animals, and many programs focus on both large and small animals. This course introduces key skills for examining small animals, such as cats and dogs. Course topics may include laboratory sample collection, patient management, and medication administration.Companion Animal BehaviorVeterinary programs examine animal behavior in various contexts, including the behavior of companion animals. This course highlights humane handling practices, prevention of behavior problems, and animal behavior as a health indicator. Degree-seekers may also explore the ethical dimensions of human-animal interactions.Veterinary EthicsVeterinarians frequently confront ethical issues while treating animals, conducting research, and interacting with clients. This course highlights the ethical dimensions of biomedical science, veterinary medicine, and animal welfare. Students may explore legal and institutional positions, along with ethical problems they observe in veterinary case studies.Clinical and Professional CommunicationIn addition to treating animals, veterinarians must also communicate effectively with clients. Professionals need strong communication skills to maintain high standards of care. Enrollees develop the verbal and nonverbal skills necessary to effectively interact with clients in a variety of situations.
Scholarships for Veterinary Students
Even learners at the most affordable veterinary schools may need assistance funding their studies. Scholarships can help students minimize debt. Veterinary students can apply for general scholarships and awards reserved for degree-seekers with specific backgrounds or career goals. The following list highlights five popular scholarships for veterinary students.
American Veterinary Medical Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: AVMF offers scholarships for veterinary students at all levels. Depending on the scholarship, requirements may include financial need, academic excellence, and leadership potential.
A Voice for Animals Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Humane Education Network offers this scholarship to high school students planning to pursue a postsecondary veterinary medicine program. Applicants must submit a video, photograph, or essay on an assigned topic related to animal welfare.
Race for Education Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The Race for Education offers several scholarships for college students. Applicants must be enrolled or planning to enroll in a veterinary or pre-veterinary program and must focus on equine science.
American Association of Bovine Practitioners Amstutz Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The AABP offers this scholarship to college students enrolled in AVMA-accredited veterinary schools. Applicants must be AABP members.
Embrace Vet Tech Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Embrace Pet Insurance offers this scholarship to students enrolled in AVMA-accredited veterinary technician programs. Applicants must submit a 500-word essay detailing their professional goals.
Top-Paying Animal Health Careers
Several careers in the animal health field offer compensation of $50,000 or more per year. While people generally recognize veterinary medicine as a high-paying career path, a number of other animal health career options can offer high salaries, with the top-paying job in the field, board-certified veterinarian, with compensation topping $200,000 a year.
Board-certified veterinarians earn salaries at the top end of the veterinary salary spectrum, usually averaging six figures. To achieve board certification, vets must study for several years after graduating from veterinary school and completing residencies and internships under the supervision of top specialists.
After achieving Diplomate status in their particular specialty area, they are well compensated for acquiring additional expertise. Top-paying specialties include veterinary ophthalmology (median salary of $215,120), veterinary nutrition (median salary of $202,368), and veterinary surgery (median salary of $183,902).
When considering all veterinary salaries (not just those of vets who are board certified), The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that veterinarians earn a median salary of $90,420. The best-paid veterinarians earn $159,320, while the lowest-paid earn $53,980, according to the most recent statistics, published in 2017.
Farriers provide comprehensive care and maintenance for the equine foot, applying shoes when needed and trimming the hoof to maintain proper balance. Farriers may learn the requisite skills for this career path either by taking classes at a trade school or apprenticing with an experienced professional. In some cases, the wage gap can be as great as $40,000 for pleasure horses to $200,000 or more for race and show horses.
An American Farriers Journal survey found that the average annual salary for full-time farriers in the U.S. was reported to be $92,623 per year and for part-timers, $21,153. The job requires a fair amount of physical labor, but that is offset by the strong compensation available with no college degree required.
Animal nutritionists work to create nutritionally balanced rations for pets and livestock. Animal nutritionists are included as a part of the food scientist category in surveys conducted by the BLS. According to the BLS, animal nutritionists average an annual salary of $60,390 a year. Most of these scientists make from $37,830 to $120,500 a year. Nutritionists who achieve board certification as veterinary nutritionists can earn significantly higher salaries.
Veterinary Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
Veterinary pharmaceutical sales representatives sell a variety of animal health products through direct marketing to veterinarians (either through field sales or inside sales methods). Sales reps can earn widely varying salaries due to the nature of their compensation which is usually comprised of a combination of salary, commission, and bonuses.
That said, most can expect to earn a salary of $59,122 to $119,826 per year according to PayScale.com. The veterinary pharmaceutical sales career path is commonly recognized as one of the top-earning options in the animal industry.
Equine Dental Technician
An equine dental technician rasps a horse’s teeth (in a process commonly known as “floating”) to keep them in proper alignment. Dental technicians may be certified through completion of trade school programs, and many states require that dental techs work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
According to several equine dentistry trade schools, equine dental technicians average a salary of more than $50,000 per year. SimplyHired.com cited a slightly higher salary range of $69,000 to $76,000 per year.
Animal Insurance Agent
Insurance sales agents may offer either equine insurance or pet insurance coverage options as a part of their sales portfolio. While total compensation may vary for insurance agents—because they are often paid a base salary plus commission on sales—the mean annual wage for all insurance sales agents is $49,990 per year and $24.03 per hour, according to the BLS. Those working in the specific subcategories of pet or equine insurance can expect to earn similar salaries.
Animal Health Inspector
Animal health inspectors monitor livestock production facilities, laboratories, pet stores, breeding operations, and animal shelters to ensure that all animals are being treated humanely and in accordance with state and federal laws.
Animal health inspectors earn a median salary of $47,000 per year according to the BLS, and the median salary was significantly higher in some states (e.g., a median salary of $66,520 in Connecticut and $59,200 in New York).