Veterinarian Training, Advancement and Other Qualifications

To become a veterinarian, one must complete the coursework for a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and obtain state licensing. Even getting into a veterinary program is a very competitive challenge.


Every state requires a veterinarian to be licensed before they may practice, with the only exceptions being some government workers. In order to become licensed, one must first pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, which is a full day course with several questions, as well as a visual section which tests one’s ability to diagnose issues. In addition to this, every state has its own additional requirements for licensure.

If a veterinarian from another country wishes to become licensed in the US, there is a group known as the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates which may grant certification. This is contingent upon being proficient in English and in the clinical practice of veterinary medicine.

As well, a large number of states also require a veterinarian candidate to pass a test on relevant laws and regulations associated with their profession. Some states will even test a veterinarian’s clinical capabilities, in addition to that. To practice in a state, the veterinarian must be licensed in that state.

Training and Education

A Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine must be acquired from one of the 28 four-year colleges in the US which are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association or AVMA. This is absolutely required to be a veterinarian in the first place.

Every program has different prerequisite requirements to be admitted. While some demand a bachelor’s degree, others only need a certain number of credit hours to gain admittance. Granted, the competition is fierce, and most of the people who are admitted have achieved their bachelor’s degree.

To train for veterinary school, the hard sciences are key components. However, the entire curriculum a student works on should be directed toward running their own practice and understanding the underpinnings of working with people in the science of helping animals to heal. While chemistry, anatomy and physiology and biology will help with the actual treatment, business and liberal arts courses should also be among the concerns of the student who wants to practice veterinary medicine.

There are three primary tests used to help a candidate’s chances of being accepted into a veterinary program. These are the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test; the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination; and the VCAT, or Veterinary College Admission Test. While the GRE is most frequently used by veterinary schools, all three of these tests are used by some institutions.

Although you’ll be able to start your own practice, you’ll find that the majority of new graduates prefer to take up a single year residency, in the interests of finding higher paying opportunities for employment down the line. Having a great line on one’s resume is very important. As well, a veterinarian has the option of becoming board certified in a specific topic, such as dentistry, oncology, ophthalmology or a large number of other possibilities in the veterinary field.


A large number of veterinarians begin their careers employed by group practices which are well established. While the investment necessary to start a practice is significant, a large number of veterinarians will eventually start their own practices.

A veterinarian who is trained and usually licensed may be a meat inspector for the US Government, work in animal welfare and safety, is a researcher, an epidemiologist, of even work in the military of the US Public Health Service.

Almost every state mandates continued education for a veterinarian, if they wish to keep their license. While every state has different requirements, many need class attendance and a demonstration of up to date knowledge of veterinary medical practices.

Other Qualifications

Veterinary clinics turn away a lot of applicants, so ambition and a burning desire to work with animals are not optional. One way an applicant can display this desire is through working or volunteering with animals at a veterinarian’s office, work in the sciences or even work on a ranch or animal shelter.

Loving animals is crucial to being a veterinarian, obviously. As well, the ability to work well with the human owners of animals is no less essential. Manual dexterity and business skills are also definite pluses.

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