"Wanted: avowed animal lovers to enter a fast-expanding field. Candidates must interact well with humans and pets alike and also possess an aptitude for science. Business skills a plus." If this describes your dream job, you can seek a career working with the animal kingdom, and bachelor's degrees in veterinary science can move you in that direction.
Earning bachelor's degrees in veterinary science
Undergraduate programs that prepare students for the veterinary field naturally emphasize both physical and life sciences. You can expect courses such as these:
- Animal nutrition
- Vertebrate embryology
The curriculum also covers general education classes in the humanities and college-level math. Business courses are helpful for the financial aspects of running a veterinary practice.
Beyond your bachelor's degree
In addition to their undergrad training, veterinary technologists and technicians have to complete a specialized postsecondary program, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technologists hold a four-year bachelor's degree, while technicians need a two-year associate degree. As a vet tech, you must also meet licensing and certification regulations that depend on your state.
Veterinarians must finish a four-year professional program, and admission to veterinary school is intensely competitive. These DVM programs may not require bachelor's degrees, but the BLS warns that applicants without an undergraduate degree are at a disadvantage.
Career opportunities and salary information
One way to gain experience in the field is through the entry-level position of veterinary assistant, looking after animals in laboratories, animal hospitals and clinics. With targeted training, you can seek more advanced positions.
Veterinary technologists, generally speaking, are to veterinarians what nurses are to physicians, although technologists can also seek advanced research positions. Veterinarians, of course, provide health care to domestic pets, and they may also attend to livestock or zoo animals or work in research laboratories.
Regardless of your specific aspirations, the BLS expects employment growth for vets and veterinary technologists to far outpace other U.S. occupations over the 2010-2020 decade. The BLS reports these 2010 median annual wages and projected 2010-2020 growth rates for related careers:
- Veterinary assistants: $22,040; 14 percent
- Veterinary technologists and technicians: $29,710; 52 percent
- Veterinarians: $82,040; 36 percent
Veterinary assistant certificate programs are available online, and hybrid veterinary tech programs offer hands-on training blended with web-based classwork. Online education offers a convenient way to break into this rewarding field.