Answer: I must get this question at least once or twice a day. For me, I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. I even drew the plans to my veterinary hospital in second grade. I love what I do. It has been an honor and privilege to serve our furry friends for over 35 years. But I must say it is not an easy profession. Veterinary school is, and veterinary medicine has its unique challenges. But Dr. Chip and I LOVE. IT! There are so many different careers in animal health.
So, what does it take to get into veterinary school? Of course, it requires traits such as compassion, empathy, and a good work ethic, but the obstacle to becoming a Veterinarian is education. After a High School diploma, you will usually need a 4-year college undergraduate degree, and then a 4-year doctorate degree in Veterinary medicine. There are only 28 Veterinary schools in the US and 18 internationally. Folks that’s not many schools compared to the 148 human US medical schools and hundreds more globally. So, the competition for admittance is fierce. This scarcity of seats at the schools makes grades an essential aspect of acceptance, but academics is not the only factor.
Experience is also essential and is often gained by volunteering in many different areas of animal health. I can’t stress veterinary-related experience enough. Schools are also looking for well-rounded candidates, so a resume with cultural and social attributes is also desirable. The class of 2020 at Ohio State had an average of over 2000 hours of experience in many different areas of service. If you are thinking of applying to veterinary school, get out there, and volunteer in animal health as soon as you can, it will pay off during the admission process.
By the way, WE are HIRING VETERINARIANS if you know anyone who may want to join the team!!
The other major factor to consider if you want to be a Veterinarian is tuition. The average 4-year tuition is about $250,000.00 for veterinary school alone. That does not include your undergraduate tuition. The tuition is usually handled with student loans, but the problem is that most Veterinarians do not start out making enough money to be able to pay off such a debt burden. This is currently a real concern in our profession, a concern veterinary schools and veterinary association are looking at closely. The average US veterinarian with experience makes $89,000.00 a year. As you can see, it will take a long time to pay off your student loan debt.
With all of this said I do not want to discourage anyone, I just want everyone considering this field to know the facts ahead of time, and then go on to have the best career field on the planet, as I have. Being a veterinarian is hard work, fun, and rewarding. It is a distinguished career for the well-rounded, compassionate animal lover.
We will have an entire upcoming episode dedicated to “How to become a veterinarian” on our Vets Talk Pets podcast. www.Vetstalkpets.com