Choosing the best major for veterinarians may seem like a challenging task, but it can be easy with a bit of guidance. To know how to choose a major for a veterinarian, you must consider your interests and long-term goals. If you’re interested in preventing and treating medical conditions in different types of animals, veterinary medicine might be the field for you.
Veterinary medicine is a field that involves substantial training and education, regardless of the program. After completing your undergraduate major, you’ll need to attend a four-year program at a vet school. Keep reading for tips on how to find the best major for a veterinarian.
Why Choose a Career as a Veterinarian?
There are several reasons you might want to consider a career as a veterinarian. Veterinarians play a vital role in animals’ well-being and health and have the opportunity to help animals stay healthy and disease-free. Professionals work in a wide range of environments, including animal hospitals, animal shelters, and research facilities.
Generally, in veterinary schools, you’ll learn about different topics and conditions in animals, such as animal behavior, animal science, food safety, and the treatment of medical conditions and injuries. This can be a rewarding and satisfying career choice for students who love animals and want to help them stay healthy.
Veterinarian Job Outlook
The job outlook for veterinarians is bright. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for veterinarians are expected to rise by 17 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. The expected growth is due to the demand for a licensed veterinarian practice in both private and public clinics.
Veterinarian Job Satisfaction
Veterinarians enjoy a good work-life balance. They typically work standard hours and have the opportunity to interact with animals daily. So, if you’re an animal owner and care for animals, veterinary medicine may be the perfect choice for you. Veterinarians rank in ninth place for best health care jobs and in 23rd place for best jobs, according to US News & World Report.
Veterinarian Salary Potential
|Career||Minimum Level of Education||Average Salary|
|Veterinary Scientist||doctoral degree||$86,147|
|Medicinal Veterinarian||doctoral degree||$88,008|
|Biomedical and Clinical Services Veterinarian||doctoral degree||$75,000|
|Animal Nutritionist||bachelor’s degree||$71,788|
|Veterinary Technologist||bachelor’s degree||$36,627|
How to Choose a Major for Veterinarians: Tips for Selecting the Right Veterinarian Degree
Tip 1: Volunteer
Volunteering is an excellent way to determine what area of animal medicine you want to specialize in. By working directly with a licensed veterinarian, you can gain experience in animal health issues and learn about the daily tasks of veterinary clinics or animal hospitals. Volunteering can help you build relationships and strengthen various interpersonal skills like communication skills. You can volunteer in an animal shelter or a clinic.
Tip 2: Research
It is essential to research the prerequisite courses for your desired program to ensure that you take the required procedures to be eligible for admission into vet school. For example, the admission requirements at Penn Veterinary Medical School require knowledge of biological sciences, experience working with animals, and research.
Tip 3: Look for Accreditation
Selecting a program that’s accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is crucial. This accreditation ensures that academic institutions within its jurisdiction meet acceptable levels of educational quality. The AVMA is the governing body for veterinary medicine in the United States, as it sets the standards for educational ethics and practice.
Tip 4: Do A School Search
Consider the school’s location and whether you want to study in a rural or urban environment. Some college students prefer to look in rural settings to be close to the animals they will be working with, while others prefer to learn in an urban environment to access more resources.
Contacting schools and checking school rankings will help you learn about the programs and make the right college choice for you.
Tip 5: Consider Your Career Goals
You should consider your career goals and choose a degree program to help you achieve them. If you want to work in a research laboratory, you must select degree paths that offer prerequisite coursework in research methods. You must also consider what types of animals you’re interested in and the location you want to work in.
What Degree for Veterinarians: Best Majors for a Veterinarian Career
Veterinary Medicine is a field that leads with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in animals. It’s a good major for students who want to work in a field where they can make a difference in helping animals. Veterinary medicine is a vast field covering various topics, such as animal anesthesia, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology.
- Associated Career Paths: Research, Education, Animal Politics
- Levels of Education: Doctoral Degree
With this major, students can go into veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, or various roles within the veterinary industry. Veterinary radiologists participate in clinical studies and medical tests on animals’ bones, organs, and tissues.
- Associated Career Paths: Veterinary Medicine, Animal Husbandry, Veterinarian Business
- Levels of Education: Bachelor’s Degree
A Zoology major is an excellent choice for someone interested in living animal experiences, the animal kingdom, and learning how different kinds of animals interact with their environments. The skills you learn in this major include researching, analyzing data, and writing papers.
- Associated Career Paths: Animal Research, Education, Wildlife Management
- Levels of Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree
The best part about an animal physiology major is that it applies to multiple career options. You could become a veterinarian, scientist, or researcher. There are also many opportunities to work with animals in the entertainment industry, such as zoos, aquariums, and nature parks. Whatever you choose, you’ll gain soft skills and a deep understanding of animal physiology.
- Associated Career Paths: Veterinarian, Animal Research, Zoology
- Levels of Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctoral Degree
If you have an aptitude for science, animal science is an excellent major for you. It covers a wide range of topics related to animal agriculture, such as animal nutrition, reproduction, genetics, and behavior. Many animal science majors continue their education and earn doctoral degrees to participate in research.
- Associated Career Paths: Poultry Production, Animal Health, Research
- Levels of Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctoral Degree
Other Veterinarian Related Majors
You have many choices when it comes to choosing a major to become a veterinarian. A veterinarian degree is a four-year doctorate that prepares students for a career in veterinary medicine. If you have a deep interest in both animal health and animal welfare, veterinary practice is a great choice. Below are some of the other veterinarian-related majors you should consider.
- Animal Anatomy
- Clinical Pathology
- Comparative and Laboratory Animal Medicine
- Wildlife Biology
- Veterinary Microbiology and Immunobiology
- Veterinary Toxicology and Pharmacology
- Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
- Veterinary Technology
- Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Epidemiology, and Public Health
- Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Is a Career in Veterinary Medicine Right for Me?
The best way to determine if a career in veterinary medicine is right for you is to learn more about it. Although challenging, veterinary medicine is a rewarding field that offers students opportunities to work with animals, help people, and make a difference.
To find the best career opportunities for you, do your research and ask around. Talk to pre-veterinary students to learn about their experiences or shadow a professional veterinarian. High-end veterinary medicine schools include University of California, Davis, Cornell University, and University of Florida.
Best Major for a Veterinarian FAQ
Yes, a student can become a vet with biology courses. Most vet schools require a minimum of 90 credit hours of undergraduate coursework, including biology and other basic sciences coursework. However, specific course requirements vary from school to school, so it’s important to research the specific requirements of the school you want to apply to.
You should major in animal science, zoology, biochemistry, or wildlife biology. There are just some of the major options you can choose if you want to become a veterinarian. However, each vet school has its own requirements, so be sure to check your desired school’s undergraduate requirements before choosing your major.
Yes, veterinarians are real doctors. The title of a veterinarian is protected by law in the United States and many other countries. According to the American Veterinary Association, all veterinarians are permitted to use “Doctor”, as long as they meet the requirements of the veterinary profession.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for veterinarians was $99,250 in May 2020. It’s important to consider the cost of living in a particular area and the availability of jobs, as they can affect wages.
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