Want to become a veterinarian, but the question, “What degree do you need to be a veterinarian?” is holding you back? Embedded in this article is everything you need to know to make the right choices.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree programs are available at many colleges and universities.
Some veterinary schools are well-known for providing excellent education and training in a specific area of veterinary medicine, such as livestock studies.
Pharmacology, gross anatomy, animal health and disease, anatomy, biochemistry, and other courses are common for veterinary medical students.
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How to Become a Veterinarian
Still asking what degree do you need to be a veterinarian? Here are steps on what to do to become one:
1. Complete high school.
2. Earn a Bachelor of Science degree.
3. Apply for DVM programs.
4. Finish veterinary medical school.
5. Get your license.
6. Perform an internship.
7. Consider board certification.
1. Complete High School
While in high school, take advanced, honors, or AP classes in the hard sciences like biology and chemistry.
Some high schools allow students to take college-level courses through the school or at a local college or university.
Consider this if possible to get ahead on your undergraduate coursework.
2. Earn a Bachelor of Science Degree
Earn a Bachelor of Science degree in an area like biology, chemistry, physics, animal biology, or zoology.
It is possible to go on to veterinary medical school with a different undergraduate major or degree, but it may increase the time you have to spend on prerequisite courses and delay the completion of your DVM.
3. Apply for DVM Programs
Most DVM programs require applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, to earn admission.
Some applicants choose to take a year between their undergraduate work and graduate school to study for and take the GRE.
Others choose to take the GRE during their fourth and final year of college and apply right away. In either case, prepare for the GRE appropriately.
4. Finish Veterinary Medical School
Complete your DVM degree at an accredited institution. Veterinary medical school takes four years to complete.
5. Get your License
Veterinarians must be licensed in the state in which they want to practice.
To earn their license, veterinarians take a national exam assessing their knowledge of veterinary practices.
Some states require an additional exam on that state’s specific laws and regulations regarding animal care in addition to the national exam.
6. Perform an Internship
Some veterinarians choose to complete an internship with a seasoned veterinarian to gain hands-on experience before opening their own practice or practicing independently.
An internship is not required to become a veterinarian, but many vets choose to do it.
Veterinary internships usually last one year.
7. Consider Board Certification
Board certification is a designation given to highly specialized and knowledgeable veterinarians.
Board certification involves mastery in a specialization like surgery or anesthesia and the completion of an exam demonstrating excellence.
Board certification is not required to become a veterinarian, but it can be an excellent way to earn more money or find a fantastic position.
How Long does Veterinarian Training Take?
To become a veterinarian, you will typically need to study for eight years.
You will pursue an undergraduate degree that includes coursework related to your desired career during your first four years of study.
After that, you’ll spend four years pursuing your DVM degree.
In most cases, you can take your exam and become licensed immediately after finishing your DVM program.
Keep in mind that your DVM program will include extensive clinical training. During this training, you will gain on-the-job experience and make contacts that will help you advance your career after graduation.
If you are accepted into an accelerated program, you may be able to finish your DVM and become certified in as little as six or seven years.