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Veterinary Careers for Animal Lovers

Put your knowledge, compassion and love for animals into practice by exploring veterinary career opportunities where you will work to prevent disease and heal animals. You may also consider animal care positions providing services to animals and pet owners. Learn more about the types of career choices available to you.

If you are passionate about animals, you may be interested in one of the following career choices.


The median salary for veterinarians is $90,410, with a job outlook of 19 percent, much faster than the national average. To become a veterinarian, you must obtain a doctorate or professional degree from one of 30 accredited institutions. You may also be required to complete a minimum of four years of additional schooling after you receive your undergraduate degree and pass the North American Veterinarian Licensing Exam, or NAVLE, to practice as a veterinarian in the United States.

Earning admission into veterinarian school is highly competitive, so you will need a background in mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics. You have a wide range of options for your undergraduate major, but make sure you fulfill the core requirements for admission into veterinary school. You could also choose a pre-vet major, such as animal science, wildlife ecology or zoology. It is important to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, and obtain animal and clinical experience by volunteering throughout your undergraduate years.

As a veterinarian, you may find a range of job opportunities, including the following:

  • Private practice, either general practice or a specialty field like orthopedics or emergency animal medicine
  • Corporate — working with companies that provide veterinary care, test human drugs for safety or produce animal-related products
  • The federal government through organizations including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration
  • The U.S. Army Corps and U.S. Air Force for advanced training in specialty areas, such as food safety and military working dog veterinarians
  • Research, either in a university setting or with companies producing animal-related products or pharmaceuticals
  • Teaching, either at a university or nonprofessional school

Additional Veterinary Careers

Veterinary technologists and technicians perform medical tests in a laboratory environment, prepare vaccines and may assist veterinarians during surgery in private clinics, and animal hospitals. A technologist must have a bachelor’s degree; a technician needs a two-year associate degree. The median wage in this fast-growing career field is $33,400, and the occupation has a rate of 20 percent, much faster than average. Technologists and technicians must meet credentialing and licensure requirements based on individual state regulations. State licensure may require graduation from an accredited program. Check with the American Veterinary Medical Association for information on accredited programs.

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers feed, water and examine pets for signs of illness, disease or injury. They sterilize lab and surgical equipment and are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting cages and work areas. They may also administer medications and prepare samples for laboratory examination. Veterinary assistants earn a median wage of $26,140 and need a high school diploma and short-term on-the-job training to get started. State licensure may require graduation from an accredited program. Learn more about accredited programs from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

Animal care and service workers provide care that includes feeding, exercising, bathing and grooming of animals in veterinary clinics, kennels, stables, animal shelters and pet stores. Animal care and service workers average $23,160 in salary in a field that is growing much faster than average where no formal education is required. Gaining experience in animal care and services may give you the opportunity to start your own business as a dog groomer, pet sitter or animal trainer.

Visit the Department of Labor Military Spouse License Recognition Map for up-to-date legislation and licensure information for your specific state.

Finding employment

Search for federal job opportunities on the USAJOBS website. Check for positions with Military Spouse Employment Partnership companies and organizations committed to hiring military spouses, including the following.

Professional organizations and networking

Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies, and possibly continue your education through workshops and conferences. Networking with other professionals in your industry may help you find the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location.

Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career. Joining an association can assist you in forming the network connections you may need to find employment.

Next steps

If you are considering getting started in a veterinary career field, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. Take the Strong Interest Explorer and Myers-Briggs self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with this career path. Investigate whether you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance and use the SECO Scholarship Finder to see if money is available to help fund any classes or certifications you might need. If you are considering self-employment, be sure to visit the Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage of MySECO.

Contact a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website for assistance with choosing a school, finding scholarship funding, searching for a job or overcoming challenges.

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