Veterinary Schools & Programs Providing Compassionate Care to Animals

Those who love working with animals and have a passion for improving the health and welfare of pets and animals will thrive in a career as a veterinarian or veterinarian technician. Veterinary schools offer comprehensive degree programs that teach students how to diagnose, treat, and immunize all types of animals. This guide provides an overview of veterinary careers and degree programs that set the stage for this exciting career path.

Best Veterinary Schools & Programs: 2016-2017

Veterinary professionals play a vital role in maintaining the well-being of sick or injured animals, whether they are veterinary technicians, attendants, doctors, or another role within this field. However, before one can enter a career in veterinary sciences, they must complete the required level of education for their desired profession. To help with this process, we have carefully analyzed every veterinary school and program in the country to find the best academic options for prospective students. Explore the top veterinary schools and programs for 2016-2017 here.

1 Barton County Community College
SCORE99.82 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %71% TOTAL PROGRAMS2 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO25:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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2 Western Nebraska Community College
SCORE98.86 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %60% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO15:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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3 Casper College
SCORE98.57 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %42% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO12:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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4 Western Wyoming Community College
SCORE97.81 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %39% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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5 Eastern Wyoming College
SCORE97.49 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %63% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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6 Itawamba Community College
SCORE97.00 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %52% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO19:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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7 Northeast Mississippi Community College
SCORE96.62 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %63% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO22:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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8 Front Range Community College
SCORE96.41 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %9% TOTAL PROGRAMS2 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO20:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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9 Hinds Community College
SCORE95.69 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %22% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO18:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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10 Copiah-Lincoln Community College
SCORE95.40 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %35% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO23:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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11 Metropolitan Community College
SCORE94.81 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %20% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO14:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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12 Northwest Mississippi Community College
SCORE94.29 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %26% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO23:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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13 El Paso Community College
SCORE93.71 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %3% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO26:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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14 Murray State College
SCORE93.68 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %30% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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15 Harcum College
SCORE93.24 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %94% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO15:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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16 North Idaho College
SCORE93.21 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %28% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO15:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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17 Allen County Community College
SCORE93.08 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %68% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO20:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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18 Northeast Community College
SCORE92.95 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %38% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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19 Butler Community College
SCORE92.66 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %46% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO18:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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20 College of Southern Idaho
SCORE92.40 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %46% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO21:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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21 Angelina College
SCORE92.25 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %8% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO15:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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22 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
SCORE92.08 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %1% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO22:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
23 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
SCORE91.38 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %57% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO21:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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24 Alpena Community College
SCORE91.27 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %24% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO13:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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25 Treasure Valley Community College
SCORE91.21 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %30% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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26 South Plains College
SCORE89.37 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %20% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO25:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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27 Palo Alto College
SCORE88.47 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %20% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO20:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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28 Grand Rapids Community College
SCORE87.95 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %7% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO20:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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29 Northwest Vista College
SCORE87.34 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %9% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO22:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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30 Austin Community College District
SCORE86.00 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %13% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO21:1 GRAD RATEN/A

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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1 University of Georgia
SCORE99.76 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %20% TOTAL PROGRAMS7 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO18:1 GRAD RATE81%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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2 Washington State University
SCORE99.46 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %51% TOTAL PROGRAMS5 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO15:1 GRAD RATE67%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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3 University of Maryland-College Park
SCORE99.14 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %52% TOTAL PROGRAMS4 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO18:1 GRAD RATE82%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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4 Michigan State University
SCORE99.02 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %44% TOTAL PROGRAMS5 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATE79%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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5 Kansas State University
SCORE98.21 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %65% TOTAL PROGRAMS4 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO19:1 GRAD RATE58%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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6 University of Nebraska-Lincoln
SCORE97.67 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %69% TOTAL PROGRAMS2 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO21:1 GRAD RATE65%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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7 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
SCORE97.14 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %37% TOTAL PROGRAMS3 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATE86%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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8 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
SCORE93.80 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %54% TOTAL PROGRAMS5 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATE73%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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9 Clemson University
SCORE90.59 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %59% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATE82%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
Read More Read Less
10 Delaware State University
SCORE90.44 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %60% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATE33%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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11 Northwest Missouri State University
SCORE90.32 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %93% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO24:1 GRAD RATE52%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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12 Madonna University
SCORE90.00 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %82% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO11:1 GRAD RATE36%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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13 Cedar Crest College
SCORE89.92 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %100% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO10:1 GRAD RATE61%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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14 University of Arizona
SCORE89.83 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %77% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO20:1 GRAD RATE61%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
Read More Read Less
15 University of Massachusetts-Amherst
SCORE89.68 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %60% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATE70%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
16 Newberry College
SCORE89.65 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %99% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO12:1 GRAD RATE40%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
17 Saint Xavier University
SCORE89.60 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %100% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO13:1 GRAD RATE54%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
18 Morehead State University
SCORE89.46 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %70% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO18:1 GRAD RATE43%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
Read More Read Less
19 Lincoln Memorial University
SCORE89.29 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %97% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO13:1 GRAD RATE45%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
20 Lubbock Christian University
SCORE88.92 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %91% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO12:1 GRAD RATE43%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
Read More Read Less
21 University of Nevada-Reno
SCORE88.87 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %45% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO22:1 GRAD RATE54%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
22 Oral Roberts University
SCORE88.84 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %100% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATE51%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
23 Boise State University
SCORE88.53 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %33% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO19:1 GRAD RATE29%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
24 SUNY College of Technology at Canton
SCORE88.24 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %16% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATE32%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
25 The University of Findlay
SCORE88.06 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %100% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATE52%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
26 Becker College
SCORE86.93 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %100% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO16:1 GRAD RATE29%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
27 Faulkner University
SCORE86.88 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %92% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO18:1 GRAD RATE33%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
Read More Read Less
28 University of the Southwest
SCORE86.39 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %98% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO17:1 GRAD RATE22%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
Read More Read Less
29 Mercy College
SCORE86.00 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %88% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO19:1 GRAD RATE34%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
Read More Read Less
30 MCPHS University
SCORE86.00 TUITION & FEES FINANCIAL AID %85% TOTAL PROGRAMS1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO24:1 GRAD RATE66%

  • Additional Benefits:
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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Veterinarian Schools & Careers: Snapshot

Accredited veterinarian schools require students to take a combination of science courses and complete laboratory-based coursework. At the undergraduate level before applying for veterinary school, students complete advanced courses in biochemistry, chemistry, and mathematics along with labs. Students who meet the undergraduate course requirements can apply to veterinary school to earn their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and state license.

Nearly half of veterinary
medical college graduates
finish their undergraduate
degree with no debt, according to research conducted by the American Veterinary
Medical Foundation.

Two-thirds of all the 2013
U.S. Veterinary Medical
College graduates who
accepted full-time positions earned more than $31,000 annually.

Employment of
veterinarians is expected to
grow 9 percent through 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The mean first-year
employment starting salaries
for veterinary medicine college graduates was $67,535 in
2013; the median annual
wage for veterinarians was $87,590 in May 2014.

Similar Programs

For students who are interested in the veterinarian career, but find themselves better suited to follow a different track, there are several related degree paths to consider. The following degree programs may help students enter a career in the science and healthcare field:

  • Veterinary Technician (Vet Tech)

    Veterinary technician programs provide students with technical skills and knowledge to work alongside veterinarians to perform various procedures while providing care for different types of animals. Coursework typically encompasses anatomy and physiology of domestic animals, pharmacology, and an externship component.

  • Biology

    Completing a biology degree program provides the educational framework for careers in the healthcare and science field. Students study topics like anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, and ecology. These programs can serve as the undergraduate portion of a veterinary doctor’s education.

  • Medical Billing & Coding

    Medical billing and coding jobs are more technical in nature and require long hours at the computer processing paperwork and creating reports. Students can complete vocational training or a degree program at an accredited trade school, community college, or four-year university.

How to Become a Veterinarian

After completing a four-year accredited undergraduate program, graduates can apply to a veterinary school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). An undergraduate degree in biology, physical sciences, or related field is recommended since these degree programs provide a strong foundation in health and science for an aspiring animal doctor. There are currently 30 AVMA-accredited veterinarian schools and admission is very competitive. Here is a closer look at veterinary schools and degree options at each level:

Veterinary Associate Degrees

Type of Schools:

Community Colleges, Technical Colleges

Time to Complete:

Two to three years

Career Opportunities:

Veterinary Technologist, Veterinary Technician, Animal Trainer, Kennel Attendant, Humane Society Worker

Students learn technical skills, such as how to dispense drugs, basic veterinary clinic operations, and how to use various types of technology and specialized equipment. Many two-year programs also include an internship component where the student works at a local veterinary clinic or other partner facility to obtain hands-on experience. Courses completed at this level can also serve as foundational coursework for bachelor’s and advanced degrees in veterinary science, or can open the doors to entry-level positions as veterinary technicians or technologists.

Associate’s degree programs include courses in animal biology, nutrition, and veterinary medicine. These courses provide a strong knowledge base for those who want to work as a veterinary technician or continue their educations. Find detailed course descriptions below.

Animal Anatomy

Fundamentals of anatomy of domestic animals so that students know how to identify different anatomical regions and use appropriate topographical terms when communicating with supervisors and clinical staff members.

Animal Physiology

Physiology of domestic animals and the link between certain aspects of physiology and the pathogenesis of certain diseases.

Animal Pharmacology

In-depth study of principles and practices related to veterinary pharmacology and pharmacokinetics. Includes applications of pharmacology principles in the small practice setting.

Laboratory Animal Medicine

Focused on the technical clinical aspects of animal care in the laboratory setting, including how to handle and restrain different animals, diseases, and appropriate nutrition principles for laboratory species.

Veterinary Bachelor’s Degrees

Type of Schools:

Four-year universities and colleges

Time to Complete:

Four years

Career Opportunities:

Veterinary Clinic Manager, Animal Care Technician, Research Technician

Suggest Majors:

Veterinary Science (Pre-Vet), Biology, Chemistry, Animal Science, Zoology

Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary science are trained to serve as health care providers for small animals and as biomedical scientists. However, they are not yet qualified to practice medicine. At this level of study, students learn how to solve medical problems related to small animals, gain core biology and chemistry knowledge, and study the link between nutrition, environment, and animal behavior and disease.

Completing a four-year degree is a pre-requisite for admission to a doctor of veterinary medicine program. While students may opt for a pre-vet degree or a closely related track, the main goal during undergraduate studies is to complete the pre-requisite courses for vet school. At the undergraduate level, students can major in whichever subject they like, so long as they make sure to complete the necessary science and math courses to move on to advanced veterinary medicine programs.

Undergraduate education for pre-veterinary students includes specialized science courses centered on topics such as animal diseases, toxicology, and pharmacology. Examples of coursework completed at this level include:

Introduction to Molecular Pharmacology

Covers the basic principles of drug development, pharmacology and applications.

Principles of Animal Disease Control

In-depth study of the principles of disease control pertaining to animals and the analysis of causes and effects of certain conditions.

Laboratory Animal Science

Study of and applications of disease management and prevention on laboratory animal colonies.

Wildlife Diseases

An introduction to diseases affecting wildlife and how these impact both domestic animals and humans.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Type of Schools:

AVMA-accredited veterinary schools

Time to Complete:

Four years

Career Opportunities:

Veterinarian, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Researcher

Doctor of veterinary medicine programs teach scientific principles related to animal behavior, anatomy, pharmacology, and other subjects. Many schools offer several programs of study where a student specializes in a certain field of medicine, such as infectious diseases, physiology and pharmacology, population health, and small animal medicine and surgery. Courses are more theoretical in nature but some coursework is completed in a lab setting so students can apply their knowledge. They can prepare students to meet state licensing requirements to practice medicine.

Advanced degree programs in veterinary medicine are centered on clinical applications and theories of animal science. Students apply knowledge and theories to solve medical and health problems pertaining to domestic animals and wildlife. Examples of coursework completed at these levels include:

Animal Health and Disease

An integrated approach to the study of animal medicine, surgery, anesthesiology practices, radiology, and other topics. May include a combination of lectures, lab work, and demonstrations.

Anesthesiology Service

Provides clinical experience for the administration of anesthetics in animals safely and effectively using modern techniques.

Veterinary Practice Ethics

Ethical issues related to the administration of veterinary medicine, including clinical operations and genetics counseling.

Introduction to Clinical Procedures

Prepares the student for clinical rotations at an area hospital or clinic. Procedures and protocol include fluid administration, IV and IM injections, and IV catheterization practices.

Choosing a Veterinary School: Pre-Enollment Checklist

  • Accreditation

    The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) accredits all 30 veterinary medical colleges in the United States. Veterinary schools can also join the American Association of Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (AVMA/COE) which accredits DVM and similar higher level programs.

  • Faculty Experience

    Determine how many faculty members are practicing veterinarians or have worked in veterinary medicine. These staff members can share valuable real-world insights and serve as a source for a recommendation when applying for a job or other educational opportunities.

  • Licensure Preparation

    In order to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE), applicants have to graduate from an AVMA/COE-accredited college. Attending schools that offer NAVLE preparation courses can increase the chances of passing the licensing exam the first time.

  • Professional Networking Opportunities

    Schools that offer opportunities to meet doctors, veterinary professionals, and industry leaders at networking events or professional presentations throughout the year may offer more value to an ambitious student. These events give students a chance to interact with established professionals, learn more about the industry from an insider, and develop their professional network.

Specializations & Career Options for Veterinarians

In addition to the role of a veterinarian, there are several supporting and related careers that graduates of different levels can choose from.

Veterinarian

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024): 9%
Annual Salary (2014): $87,590
Typical Education: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)

Responsible for the care and treatment of animals compliant with ethical rules and state regulations. Veterinarians are directly involved with diagnosing and treating the medical conditions and diseases of pets. They may also work with livestock and other animals to provide comprehensive veterinary care in a field or clinical setting.

Veterinary Assistant/Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024): 9%
Annual Salary (2014): $23,790
Typical Education: High School Diploma or equivalent

Responsible for taking care of animals in a lab, clinic, or hospital setting before or after the animal is being treated by a veterinarian. They provide support services to other veterinary professionals to ensure the animal can stay calm and relaxed during visits. May also be involved with making sure that animals stay still while undergoing surgery.

Veterinary Technologist/Technician

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024): 19%
Annual Salary (2014): $31,070
Typical Education: Associate’s Degree

Responsible for performing all medical tests and lab work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The test results are used to diagnose medical conditions, injuries, and illnesses. Since this role is more technical in nature and requires strict compliance with clinical procedures and practices, the technologist or technical must be registered, licensed or certified, depending on state guidelines.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)

The best part of my job is that I wear many hats. I am a surgeon, radiologist,
pediatrician, hematologist, oncologist, and many more. You also have to manage people, both employees and clients. I find that this job requires that you be a people person. Explaining why a pet is failing or what we need to do to fix a patient who cannot speak for themselves, to a worried mom and dad takes dedicated time. Now I find that helping people is as rewarding as helping a pet.

Dr. John Patrick Smith, Licensed Veterinarian

The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes 22 veterinary specialties that focus on specific areas of the discipline. Each of the following specialties maintains their own organization under the umbrella of the AVMA and may offer their own membership, certification and research opportunities.

  • Veterinary Practitioners
  • Veterinary Toxicology
  • Animal Welfare (provisional recognition)
  • Laboratory Animal Medicine
  • Poultry Veterinarians
  • Theriogenologists
  • Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia
  • Veterinary Behaviorists
  • Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology
  • Veterinary Dermatology
  • Veterinary Internal Medicine
  • Veterinary Microbiologists
  • Veterinary Nutrition
  • Veterinary Ophthalmologists
  • Veterinary Pathologists
  • Veterinary Preventive Medicine
  • Veterinary Radiology
  • Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (provisional recognition)
  • Veterinary Surgeons
  • Zoological Medicine
  • Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care
  • Veterinary Dental College

Key Requirements for Becoming a Veterinarian

  • Licensure

    In order to practice as veterinarian, you will need a license. Licensing requirement vary by state, but generally you will need to graduate from an AVMA-accredited veterinary school and pass an exam.

  • Complex Problem-Solving Skills

    Veterinarians need to be able to resolve complex health problems affecting the animals they treat with appropriate solutions. They may need to turn to personal experience or seek out resources to diagnose and treat animals suffering from a disease or injury.

  • Communication Skills

    Most veterinarians and veterinarian technicians work in a clinical setting or lab environment with a team of medical professionals. They need to be able to communicate clearly and maintain a professional demeanor at all times. They also need to convey information accurately and in a timely manner to ensure accuracy of medical records and to maintain clear communications with animal owners.

  • Professionalism & Ethics

    All health and medical professionals are required to abide by a set of ethics and maintain a high degree of professionalism. They must refrain from disclosing sensitive information and understand the dynamics of relationships with clients (the animal owners) and fellow staff members.

  • Leadership

    Those in managerial roles, such as animal clinic managers and doctors, need to have strong leadership skills to ensure all team members are contributing in the most effective way. They may be involved with making critical decisions pertaining to an animal’s health and well-being, as well as leading and training teams of other veterinary professionals.

  • Scientific Applications

    Veterinarians and health care professionals must use scientific rules and methods to solve problems. Inductive reasoning may be needed to form a conclusion or diagnosis but applying fundamental scientific rules and protocols when treating different animals is critical for the ethical care and surgical treatment of animals in a clinical setting.

Resources for Veterinarians