If you enjoy working with animals, perhaps you’re considering the possibility of pursuing a career as a veterinarian. Want to learn more about how to get started on this career path? Read on for an explanation of how to become a veterinarian in the USA and Australia.
Veterinary Careers in the United States
Veterinarians in the USA receive training that is as rigorous as the training a physician receives in medical school. To become a veterinarian, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as animal science, biology or zoology. Then you’ll have to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
To become licensed as veterinarians, candidates in every state must all pass a federal examination. Many state governments also require that veterinarians practicing in their state must pass a test demonstrating their knowledge of the region’s legal requirements regarding the business of veterinary medicine. Some veterinarians also choose to become board certified in one of 40 different specialized areas of veterinary medical practice.
Because the United States only has 30 accredited schools of veterinary medicine at present, there is significant demand for the relatively few available seats in veterinary school. The veterinary schools have their pick of candidates, and they can afford to be selective.
If you want to become a veterinarian in the USA, it is wise to begin your preparations when you are still in high school. Load up on all the rigorous math and science courses you can handle. Join a 4-H group. Volunteer at your local humane society or get a summer job assisting a veterinarian in your area. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has more helpful tips and advice on the topic of getting admitted to veterinary school.
If you aren’t successful in your application to veterinary school, an alternative to consider is a career as a veterinary technologist. This career path requires a two-year associate’s degree or four-year bachelor’s degree. After you gain some work experience as a veterinary technologist, you could later re-apply to veterinary school if you still want to become a veterinarian. After having obtained such relevant credentials, your chances for acceptance would be quite likely to increase.
Veterinary and Animal Science Careers in Australia
In Australia, you have the options to become either a veterinarian or a veterinary nurse. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, there are only 7 Australian universities that offer veterinary science degree programs. As in the USA, veterinarians have more time and resources invested in their educations. To become a veterinarian in Australia, the required coursework typically takes 5-6 years for completion.
In contrast, veterinary nurses typically only have 2-3 years invested in their educations. As a result, veterinarians generally earn higher salaries than veterinary nurses do.
Australian academic institutions typically include veterinary nursing certification programs in their catalogs of Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses. Students enrolled in these programs may be eligible for student loans under a relatively recent program that replaced the former scheme for VET fee help courses. Most practicing veterinary nurses in Australia have obtained a VET qualification.
Now you’re updated on how to become a veterinarian in both the United States and Australia. If you want to pursue a veterinary career, it will take much hard work to achieve your goal no matter where you decide to practice; but if animal welfare is a primary concern of yours, a veterinary career might be the right one for you.