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Veterinary career options?

EmmycatEmmycat Registered User Posts: 97 Junior Member
Hi all - I have a 16 year old D who has decided that vet school is in her future (she hopes). I know that vet school is expensive and that most vet careers don't pay that well, so I'm trying to help her get a realistic idea of career opportunities and how much debt would be reasonable, etc.

She is doing an internship at the UGA large animal vet hospital this summer (we live nearby) and is absolutely loving the experience. We were talking about the different type of practices vets can have and she says she has enjoyed the large animal experience this summer, but would like to work on small animals too. My admittedly ill-informed impression is that most vets are either small animal private practice, or large animal farm type practice. Are there types of practices that encompass both? Maybe in small farming communities one vet practice could service both family pets and farm animals, I guess? Are there any other practice options I'm not thinking of that would encompass a wide variety of animal types?

I'd appreciate any information/advice or links to sources for veterinary career options. Thanks!

Replies to: Veterinary career options?

  • ECmotherx2ECmotherx2 Registered User Posts: 1,841 Senior Member
    You fortunately live in a state with a great undergrad program and state vet school offering a combined BS/DVM degree. Instate costs are very reasonable. Starting salaries run the gamut, most in either small or national practices are $80,000 per yr and up. Salaries at research centers, zoos, rescue centers are lower. If she were to continue post DVM for a fellowship in a specialty, the salaries are double.
    I would suggest looking at the AVMA website, they also have membership for students in vet school. It offers a wealth of information.
    There is a CC poster who is a mom with a son who just completed his freshman year in the combined BS/DVM program, she usually follows these threads and I'm sure she will be able to answer any questions about the program.
  • momocarlymomocarly Registered User Posts: 506 Member
    My son is in an early admit program, similar to a BS/DVM program at Kansas State and just finished his freshman year. The above responder is right in everything she said. My son wants to specialize in equine. He works now for an equine vet. There are vets that practice both large and small animal medicine. We live in a large city and on the outskirts of the town are vet that practice both. They do get mainly horses but go slightly out of town and see some cows, pigs, goats, etc. Note about 6% of vets are in mixed animal practice.

    There are specialists also. The vet my son works for is a sports med vet. There are veterinary dentists that see all types of animals, and ophthalmologists etc. They you have vets that specialize in research animals. Lots of variety there but also hard because many animals are euthanized in those jobs. Veterinary dermatologists also see a large variety of animals. You don't have to be in the middle of nowhere just an area where there are farm animals just outside the city. Our vet school doesn't track you, so you learn it all. That way you can pick. I'm not sure about your state school. In addition to the AVMA website look at the APVMA website. It is for pre-vet and earlier students, they also have a good Facebook page. Those have lists of career options. Start following Student-Doctor Network also. It can tell you a lot too.

    Shadow some small animal vets after school, or emergency vets on weekends. Some will not let her until she is older but check. That will give her good ideas on the small animal end.
  • momocarlymomocarly Registered User Posts: 506 Member
    My son is in an early admit program, similar to a BS/DVM program at Kansas State and just finished his freshman year. The above responder is right in everything she said. My son wants to specialize in equine. He works now for an equine vet. There are vets that practice both large and small animal medicine. We live in a large city and on the outskirts of the town are vet that practice both. They do get mainly horses but go slightly out of town and see some cows, pigs, goats, etc. Note about 6% of vets are in mixed animal practice.

    There are specialists also. The vet my son works for is a sports med vet. There are veterinary dentists that see all types of animals, and ophthalmologists etc. They you have vets that specialize in research animals. Lots of variety there but also hard because many animals are euthanized in those jobs. Veterinary dermatologists also see a large variety of animals. You don't have to be in the middle of nowhere just an area where there are farm animals just outside the city. Our vet school doesn't track you, so you learn it all. That way you can pick. I'm not sure about your state school. In addition to the AVMA website look at the APVMA website. It is for pre-vet and earlier students, they also have a good Facebook page. Those have lists of career options. Start following Student-Doctor Network also. It can tell you a lot too.

    Shadow some small animal vets after school, or emergency vets on weekends. Some will not let her until she is older but check. That will give her good ideas on the small animal end.
  • chestie69chestie69 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    edited June 10
    Hi Emmycat! I too decided at a young age that I wanted to be a veterinarian (and I am currently a 3rd year vet student). Unfortunately, as you and your daughter are probably learning; the road to earning a DVM is not easy.

    Luckily the job opportunities and options for veterinarians are plenty. From private practice, corporate practice, research to government - the job opportunities are basically endless. On the flip side, the debt to income ratio for recent veterinarians is crushing. Vet school tuition just keeps on rising. As an example, in 2000 in-state tuition for vet students at Kansas State University was $5,674 per year. Now tuition at K-state is pushing $25,000. Nearly a 450% increase in 18 years! And K-state is not alone - this is occurring at every vet school in the nation.

    The average student loan debt for 2017 graduates was $144,000. And over 25% have debt above $200,000. While the average starting salary for 2017 grads was $73,000. (The 80k starting salary mentioned above is definitely too high or I want to work there when I graduate, lol.)

    If you are not aware, vet school admission is based on state residency. More seats available to in-state residents than non-residents. In addition, it is generally cheaper to go to your in-state vet school. (there are a few caveat...)

    Pursuing additional education for a specialty can be quite competitive and and also costly. Most specialties require externships, an internship and residency. Pay during this period can be very minimal and during this time interest on your student loans just keeps accruing.

    At 16, it may be possible for your daughter to begin shadowing a local veterinarian. That would be the best way to understand the field and know if it is something she truly wants to pursue. While veterinary medicine is treating animals, the majority of the vet's time is spent with humans. In reality it is a people job not an animal. I would also recommend that she choose a major in college that enables for a back-up plan. I did not get accepted into vet school on my first attempt and I was thankful my major enabled me a great job opportunity outside of vet med.

    Best luck to your daughter on the road ahead. It may be a long tough road but hopefully it will be worth it.

    Let me know if you or your daughter has any further questions. I would be happy to answer them.
  • EmmycatEmmycat Registered User Posts: 97 Junior Member
    Thank you all so much for the detailed responses and recommendations for other places to look for information on veterinary careers. I appreciate the information on average costs, salaries, and debt incurred by students as well. We hope that we can help her out somewhat with costs, but she will almost certainly have to take out loans for the bulk of the tuition. We also know that getting into vet school is not easy at all - although I'm glad to hear the information about the advantage of being a Georgia resident. She is shadowing with vet students at the moment and says that she can tell she'll be in for a lot of stress, so at least she's getting a realistic point of view!

    I'm hoping that after this summer she can volunteer at our vet's office and get some small animal practice experience too. I worry that she's just enjoying being around the animals and I want to make sure she sees the business side/dealing with owners too. I also told her to pay attention to what the vet techs do as compared to the vets because I know the techs actually get to deal with the animals a lot more.

    I'm sure we'll have lots more questions as she starts to explore this more, so thank you so much for your willingness to share what you've learned!
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