Residency & Beyond

How to Be a Veterinarian

Veterinarians have the unique responsibility to care for the health of animals. In a society where animals and pets are highly valued, veterinarians play a large role in improving the lives of many people. In addition, some veterinarians conduct research on animals that benefit the health of humans.


One can imagine the breadth of knowledge required to become a veterinarian. There is much to learn to become a veterinarian and thus is the reason why the path to the profession can seem long and tedious. However, for people who love animals and love making people smile, this is a career worth investing in. To view a general timeline on how to be a veterinarian, click here.


{slider=1. Graduate from High School (~4 years)}

What courses should I take?
As one can imagine, veterinarians need to have a great amount of knowledge in science and mathematics. As a high school student, you can start preparing yourself for this profession by challenging yourself by taking the highest science and math courses available. This will only help you perform well in your college courses.

What extracurricular activities should I be a part of?
It is recommended that you volunteer for an animal shelter or a veterinarian to see if this is a career you truly want to pursue. You cannot truly know if you want to be a veterinarian without having this experience.

{/slider}{slider=2. Graduate from an Undergraduate College (~4 years)}

What are the course requirements for veterinary school?
There are 28 veterinarian schools in the United States and each may have different application requirements. Generally, most schools require you take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and statistics. It is the responsibility of each applicant to check the requirements of each school that they plan to apply to.

Do I need to work, volunteer, or intern in a veterinary setting?
Most veterinary schools require that you work a certain number of hours in a clinical setting. Many schools require a minimum of at least 300 hours before you can apply. However, it is important to note that the most competitive applicants go way over and beyond the minimum requirements. This requirement is here to make sure that you know you want be a veterinarian.

What should I major in?
You can major in any disciple and still gain admissions into veterinary school. It is not your major that is important, but how well you do in your classes, especially the pre-requisite courses.

What standardized tests should I take?
It is important to prepare for standardized tests while in college. Most veterinary schools in the US require the General Record Examinations (GRE). A few select colleges accept the MCAT. It is the responsibility of the student to research what each school requires and recommends in terms of standardized tests.

{/slider}{slider=3. Graduate from Veterinary School (~4 years)}

What factors do veterinary schools consider for admissions?
Your GPA is the most important factor in your admissions decision into Veterinary School. Most schools require a minimum of 2.8 GPA, but note that this does not mean that a 2.8 GPA is a competitive statistic. Each applicant should research individual schools to determine what their average matriculant’s GPA is. In addition to GPA, other important factors include test scores, letters of recommendation, experience in veterinary settings, leadership skills, extracurricular activities, and maturity.

What is veterinary school like?
Veterinary school generally is a four year program. During the first two years, students spend most of their time inside a classroom. During the latter part of veterinary school, students spend a majority of time getting practical training in veterinary clinics and hospitals.

Am I licensed after graduating from veterinary school?
Note that graduating from an accredited veterinary is not the only requirement in becoming a fully licensed veterinarian. All states in the United States require that new veterinarians get a passing score on the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). In addition, many states may require additional testing on regulations and laws regarding veterinary practice.

{/slider}{slider=4. Become Specialized (Optional, ~3-4 years)}

What is residency?
After finishing veterinary school, new veterinarians have the option to become specialized in a certain field. They can become specialized by entering a residency program which lasts about two to three years. However, one usually cannot enter straight from graduation of veterinary school to a residency program. One must complete an internship (usually one year) or work in the clinical field for about two years. Some examples of residency specialties include animal oncology, animal dentistry, and small animals.


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