Veterinarian (DVM/DMD)

  • Veterinarian (DVM/DMD)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Veterinarians provide medical diagnoses and treatments for pets, livestock and other animals. They are trained to examine animals for disease and injury, perform surgery, prescribe medicines and vaccinations, and treat wounds and broken bones.
  • Veterinarians advise animal owners about proper care and breeding to keep their animals healthy.
  • Veterinarians are usually in private practice. Some are employed by government agencies, private industries, medical colleges and universities, zoos, research laboratories, public health agencies and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Veterinarians may have a general practice that treats all types of animals or more selective practices that treat pets such as dogs, cats and birds – or livestock animals such as horses and cattle.
  • Large-animal Veterinarians can often drive from their office to farms or ranches.
  • They may specialize in a particular area of care — Zoo Veterinarian, Clinical Veterinarian, Poultry Veterinary Livestock Inspector, Veterinary Virus Serum Inspector, or Veterinary Meat Inspector.
  • Veterinarians that study various aspects of disease, structure, form and function of animals are divided into the following categories: anatomist, microbiologists, epidemiologist, parasitologist, pathologist, pharmacologist, toxicologist and physiologist.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • As pets are increasingly viewed as members of the family, pet owners will be more willing to spend on advanced veterinary medical care, creating further demand for veterinarians.
  • Long work hours and emergency situations can cut into personal time and family time.
  • Dealing with patients that cannot communicate easily is a constant challenge.
  • Sometimes it is more competitive to be admitted into veterinary school then medical school.
  • Veterinary education preparation in both time and money is almost as much as medical school, while the salary and the prestige can be less.
  • Their work setting can often be noisy.
  • Veterinarians should have the ability to calm animals and get along with animal owners.
  • They may work in all conditions including treating animals or performing surgery under unsanitary conditions.
  • When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians are at risk of being bitten, kicked or scratched.

Quick Facts

Education: 8 years

Patient Interaction: High

Physical Activity: Medium

Salary: $78,793

Job Growth: Low

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Getting Started

  • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
  • High school students should study mathematics, biology, chemistry and related courses.
  • Veterinary and animal experience is strongly suggested.
  • In Wisconsin the only School of Veterinarian Medicine (SVM) is at Madison. Complete curriculum can be seen at
  • A bachelor’s degree is not required for getting into veterinary school but almost all entering students have it.
  • Undergraduate prerequisite courses were discussed earlier.
  • UW-Madison SVM offers a DVM degree program consisting of 157 semester credits. The first 3 years each consist of 2 semesters; the 4th year begins immediately following the 3rd year in May and is 12 months long based primarily in the medical teaching hospital and clinic—does include 4 weeks of vacation. For more specific course work see
  • Licensed veterinarians must complete 30 hours of continuing education every 2 years to remain licensed.

Educational Institutions

University of Wisconsin – Madison


Pre-Professional Programs

Alverno College
Beloit College
Cardinal Stritch University
Carroll University
Carthage College
Lawrence University
Marian University
Mount Mary College
Northland College
Ripon College
St. Norbert College
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
University of Wisconsin – Fond du Lac
University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin – Parkside
University of Wisconsin – Platteville
University of Wisconsin – River Falls
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
University of Wisconsin – Stout
University of Wisconsin – Superior
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Viterbo College

  • Veterinarians must graduate from a 4-year program at an accredited school of veterinary medicine with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) AND obtain a license to practice.
  • Prerequisites for admission can vary by veterinary schools.
  • Some schools require prerequisite credit hours ranging from 45 – 90 semester hours – at the undergraduate level.
  • UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) requires 60 credits of college course work including 40-43 credits of required course work, plus a minimum of 17 credits of elective course work.
  • UW-Madison’s SVM undergraduate prerequisites are 4 or 5 semester credits of General Biology or Zoology, 3 semester credits of Genetics or Animal Breeding, 8 semester credits of General and Qualitative Chemistry, 3 semester credits of Organic Chemistry, 3 semester credits of Biochemistry, 6 semester credits of General Physics (2 semester lecture series or 3 terms at a quarter credit institution), 3 semester credits of Statistics, 6 semester credits of English Composition or Journalism, 6 semester credits of Social Sciences or Humanities.
  • Some programs require calculus; some require only statistics, college algebra and trigonometry, or precalculus; and others require no math at all.
  • Most schools require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); some require the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Currently, 21 schools require the GRE, 5 require the VCAT, and 2 accept the MCAT.
  • Veterinary schools place heavy consideration on a candidate’s veterinary and animal experience in admittance decisions. Formal experience, such as work with veterinarians or scientists in clinics, agribusiness, research, or some area of health science, is particularly advantageous.
  • Less formal experience, such as working with animals on a farm or ranch or at a stable or animal shelter, also is helpful.
  • There is keen competition for admission to veterinary school. Only about 1 in 3 applicants are accepted. Madison accepts only 80 students per year. As admission is VERY competitive, most applicants do have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Undergraduate degree or prerequisite courses can be completed at any accredited college or university. Choosing a school that has a high placement in Veterinarian School is suggested.

American Animal Hospital Association
12575 W. Bayaud Ave.
Lakewood, CO, 80228
800/252-2242 or 303/986-2800

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
9190 Crestwyn Hills Dr.
Memphis, TN, 38125

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
PO Box 630
Abingdon, MD, 21009

American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL, 60173-4360
800/248-2862 or 800/321-1473 or 847/925-8070

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
1101 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC, 20005

Association of Avian Veterinarians
PO Box 9
Teaneck, NJ, 07666

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
PO Box 1227
Albert Lea, MN, 56007
888/99NAVTA (62882)

United States Animal Health Association
4221 Mitchell Ave.
St. Joseph, MO, 64507

Veterinary Career Network
888/491-8833, Ext. 1247

Veterinary Hospital Managers Association
PO Box 2280
Alachua, FL, 32616-2280
877/599-2707 or 518/433-8911

Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association
4610 S. Biltmore Lane, Suite 107
Madison, WI, 53718

Wisconsin Veterinary Practice Managers Association

Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association
12321 W. Godsell Ave.
Hales Corners, WI, 53130

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 1,690
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 78,300
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 85,200
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 9%
Expected Annual Openings: 1,900
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $78,793

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Work long hours.
  • Well over one-third of full-time workers spending 50 or more hours on the job.
  • Solo practitioners can work extended and weekend hours, responding to emergencies or squeezing in unexpected appointments.
  • Practicing with a partner or a group allows one to take turns being on call for evenings, nights, or weekends.
  • Can become U.S. Government meat and poultry inspectors, disease-control workers, animal welfare and safety workers, epidemiologists, research assistants, or commissioned officers in the U.S. Public Health Service or various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties—such as pathology, internal medicine, dentistry, nutrition, ophthalmology, surgery, radiology, preventive medicine, and laboratory animal medicine—are usually in the form of a 2-year internship.
  • Veterinarians who seek board certification in a specialty also must complete a 3- to 4-year residency program that provides intensive training in specialties such as internal medicine, oncology, radiology, surgery, dermatology, anesthesiology, neurology, cardiology, ophthalmology, and exotic small-animal medicine.