Veterinarians, like doctors, must go to school, undergo many hours of training and endure long hours on the job. But the rewards of being a veterinarian are numerous. If considering a career as a vet, it's important to analyze the pros and cons.
Gaining admission into one of the 28 American schools accredited by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (or AAVMC) is a rigorous process. Most schools, according to the AAVMC website, require at least 80 credit hours (mostly in science) from an accredited university. Once admitted into a four-year program, out-of-state students pay anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 per year in tuition and fees. Vet school courses are difficult, as they are very technical: vet students joke that unlike medical doctors, they are required to know more species than one.
While tending to a happy fluffy puppy is a great thought, the work of a veterinarian is very different. The reality is that animals brought into clinics are often very sick and they might soon die. Giving medical treatment to a wounded animal requires fortitude that even the biggest animal lover might not possess. Secondly, vets perform surgery, see blood, treat infections and perform many other unpleasant tasks.
The patient might not be able to provide feedback, but unhappy pet owners certainly can. Some pet owners might be irritable, rude and difficult to placate. Customer service is a crucial part of the job, since getting along with pet owners provides job security.
Payscale.com indicates that the starting salary for a veterinarian is $50,000 with the opportunity to earn six figures over time. If you own your own clinic, the salary could be higher. However, vets must have business acumen (or hire someone who does) to succeed in running their own clinic.
The career possibilities for a vet are numerous. Large animal vets could be on-call for a local zoo, which means interacting with chimps, zebras and a host of other interesting creatures. Even small animal vets, who specialize primarily in cats and dogs, get to enjoy a day filled with different personalities. Interacting with these creatures also means saving lives, which many find a highly rewarding experience.
Dealing with pet owners can also be enjoyable. Veterinarians get to know animals, but they also get to know members of their community. Helping families save their pet, often regarded as a member of the family, can create a sense of deep fulfillment and job satisfaction. Veterinarians serve as a mentor and counselor to families during times of difficulty: The decision to euthanize an animal is not an easy one, but can be made easier with the support of a good vet. As such, vets help not only pets, but families.