Veterinarian is in charge to provide preventive and diagnostic health care services to small and large animals in settings ranging from farms to zoos, either in his/her own private practice or in an animal hospital. Veterinarian also works as inspectors in the food industry or along the country’s borders to inspect imports and exports of animal products to make certain the food safety here and abroad.
Veterinarian job opportunities will be great over the next decade as more people own pets and increasingly spend more money on their care. The job opportunities to work for the government will be also expected to increase, because of the increased vigilance over the food supply.
Job Descriptions and Responsibilities
- Diagnose and treat animal health problems, using medical and diagnostic equipment such as stethoscopes, microscopes, surgical instruments, and ultrasound machines.
- Vaccinate against diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis.
- Perform surgery and prescribe medications for animals suffering from infections, as well as dress and treat their wounds.
- Provide information to animal owners on nutrition, breeding, and behavior.
- Euthanize animals when it is needed using humane procedures.
- Examine animals during all stages of meat and food production.
- Check animals for disease before slaughter, make sure safe processing of meat after slaughter, and enforce laws and regulations on sanitation at the processing site.
Training and Education Requirements
Potential veterinarians have to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D) degree from a four year program at one of the 28 accredited colleges of veterinary medicine. The accreditation standards for these colleges are established by American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The program consist academic instruction in biology, anatomy, neurology, pathology, and pharmacology, as well as a supervised clinical work at an accredited animal hospital.
Salary and Incomes
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of veterinarian in May 2008 was $79,050 per year with the highest 10 % earned $143,660b or more per year and the lowest 10 % earned $46,610 or less per year. The majority earned salary around $61,370 to $104,110.
It is required by every state that all veterinarians have to be licensed before practicing, as well as to get a D.V.M. degree and pass the national board examination, the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. There are also some additional requirements which vary by state. Board certifications are available for many clinical specialties, including ophthalmology, anesthesiology, surgery, oncology, dermatology, dentistry, and emergency care where each is offered by veterinary specialty organizations that are acknowledged by AMVA. Veterinarians who opt to specialize have to complete residency program that lasts 3 to 4 years beyond the D.V.M. education requirements.
There are plenty of professional associations for veterinarians. The largest and oldest association is AVMA. AVMA was established in 1863 and has now more than 80,000 members. AVMA has 2 publications providing news and up-to-date scientific and clinical information on veterinary practices; the Journal of the AVMA and the American Journal of Veterinary Research.
Board certified veterinarians may join association specifically to their specialty. The American Animal Hospital Associations offers services and information for veterinarians who wish to practice at animal hospitals. This association has also set up accreditation standards for hospital operation and maintenance.