Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to improve public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.

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Profession overview

Veterinarians typically do the following:

Veterinarians in private clinical practices treat the injuries and illnesses of pets and other animals with a variety of medical equipment, including surgical tools and x-ray and ultrasound machines. They provide treatment for animals that is similar to the services a physician provides to treat humans.

There are several types of veterinarians, including companion animal veterinarians, equine veterinarians, food animal veterinarians, food safety and inspection veterinarians, and research veterinarians.

Is veterinary medicine a possible career path for you?

Do you have the following qualities? If so, veterinary medicine might be a good fit for you!

Professional education

Degrees Offered

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)

Years of Study

Four years. A BS/BA degree is recommended but not required for admission to the majority of programs.


Graduates of accredited DVM programs must pass a state licensure exam in order to practice.

Choosing a veterinary medicine program

Choose a program carefully based upon factors that are important to your own learning needs. Consider program content, geographic location, faculty; facilities, experiential training opportunities, class size, student demographics, extracurricular opportunities, and cost.

For state-supported public institutions, legal residence may have a significant impact on admissions decisions. Private institutions may offer out-of-state and foreign applicants a greater number of positions as compared to state-supported, public institutions.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook