A veterinarian basically is an animal doctor. They are responsible for taking care of the health of animals. When humans need medical help, we visit the hospital and when animals require medical help we take them to the veterinary. The median veterinarian salary is $82,000 according the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. However how much money you end up earning as a veterinarian can vary drastically from this figure depending on several factors.
As mentioned above, the BLS lists the average salary of a veterinarian at $82,000. But from our research, we realized that what you actually end up earning could be substantially higher or lower than this figure depending on many factors. A job website did some research based on veterinarian jobs listed on their site and found that the median salary offered by these jobs was $44,000. When we took a look at jobs listed, the salary ranged from $29,000 to $90,000.
According to data from bls.gov, the top 10 percentile in this field commanded an average salary of $145,000 and the lowest 10% earned an average of $49,100.
A veterinarian’s salary depends on many factors. The size of the company you work for, whether you work for the government or the private sector, years of experience and specialty can all be determining factors of your salary.
Job description of a veterinarian
What do veterinarians do? They basically take care of the health of animals. Generally, you responsible for examining animals and making diagnosis. You will be required for the treatment and dressing of the wounds of injured animals. As a vet you will also perform surgical procedures on animals if required. Vaccinating animals against diseases is also a critical part of a veterinarian’s job description. You will also learn to operate and use medical machinery such as x-ray machines. You will also write prescription medicines for the treatment of animals. Probably the least favorite job responsibility of a veterinarian is having to put down animals. You will be required to euthanize animals.
Veterinarians generally do the same things a human doctor does. Veterinarians can be classified under different sectors. Each has different job description and works on different types of animals, working together with veterinary technicians and assistants. Most veterinarians will find themselves working in this fields:
- Companion animal veterinarian: These vets most work on pets and mostly work in private vet clinics. They are the people that treat your dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and other pets you may have.
- Equine veterinarian: They are vets that treat horses. They are the horse doctors.
- Food animal veterinarian: These are vets that generally work on farm animals. They treats animals we consider as food and are sometimes employed by the farm. A lot work in private practice and are called on to the farm by farmers. They will treat animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry.
- Food safety and inspection veterinarians: These type of vets mostly work for the government. They are responsible for making sure that animals we consume are free of diseases. They carry out inspections on farms, slaughter houses, supermarkets etc.
- Research veterinarians: They work in government and private research facilities, testing and developing new drugs, working on prevention of disease and new surgical techniques.
If you don’t work in any of the above categories, you will most likely end up teaching in colleges and veterinary schools.
How to become a veterinarian
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The education required to become a veterinarian is a little similar to that required for a human doctor. If you want to become a veterinarian, the first thing to do is take a lot of science subject courses in high school. This prepares you for the college course required.
To become a veterinarian, you are required to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program from an accredited college of veterinary medicine. Admission to this program is very competitive. A bachelor degree is not a requirement but be advised that majority of applicants (about 90%) do have a bachelor degree in the science related programs. Taking science related programs in high school might also give you an advantage.
It takes about four years to complete the VDM program. After graduating, you are required by all states to pass national licensing exams. Some states also require you to pass state exams. Although you can start practicing right after you complete your course, most graduates opt for internship to gain experience.
Veterinarian salary in other countries (UK, Canada and Australia)
In the United Kingdom (UK), the salary of a veterinary surgeon (veterinarian) ranges from £30,000 for starters to about £50,000 per year for experienced senior vets.
In Canada, a veterinarian salary ranges from CA$60,000 to CA$90,000 per year. The average wage in Canada for this profession is about CA$72,000 per year.
The average salary of a vet in Australia is about AU$70,000 per year. The range for Australia is between AU$60,000 and AU$90,000 per year.