The Road to Becoming a Veterinarian

Students should perform well in general science and biology in junior high school and pursue a strong science, mathematics, and biology program in high school to prepare for pre-veterinary coursework at a college or university. Before applying to veterinary college/school, students must successfully complete university level undergraduate prerequisites. Each college or school of veterinary medicine establishes its own pre-veterinary requirements, but typically these include demonstrating basic language and communication skills, and completion of courses in the social sciences, humanities, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Admission to veterinary school is highly competitive, with the number of qualified applicants admitted varying from year to year. Applicants may be required to take a standardized test (for example, the Graduate Record Examination or GRE).

There are presently 28 AVMA Council on Education accredited colleges/schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, five in Canada, and nine in other countries. Each school is regularly evaluated by the Council on Education and must maintain the quality of its program to remain accredited. Most veterinary schools require applications through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). For information about application requirements, applicant data statistics, and other admissions resources, visit

After completing the required veterinary medical curriculum (usually over four years), many graduates choose to pursue additional education in one of 20 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties such as surgery, internal medicine, animal behavior, dentistry, ophthalmology, pathology or preventive medicine.

Is Veterinary Medicine Right for You?

Today’s veterinarians are extremely dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of animals and humans. Veterinarians are animal lovers and understand the value of animals in our families and society. Other personal attributes that contribute to a successful career in veterinary medicine are:

A Scientific Mind

A student interested in veterinary medicine should have an inquiring mind and keen powers of observation. Aptitude and interest in the biological sciences are important.

Good Communication Skills

Veterinarians must meet, talk, and work well with a variety of people. Compassion is an essential attribute for success, especially for veterinarians working with owners who form strong bonds with their animals.

Leadership Experience

Many environments (e.g., clinical practice, governmental agencies, and public health programs) require that veterinarians manage employees and businesses. Having basic managerial and leadership skills contribute to greater success in these work environments.

A Bright Future

Excellent employment opportunities for veterinarians are expected to continue. The number of animals kept as pets continues to grow, providing a consistent need for quality veterinary care. The benefits of using scientific methods to

breed, raise and manage livestock, poultry and fish, together with growing awareness of public health, animal welfare and disease control programs, will continue to demand the expertise of veterinarians.

For more information

The AVMA Website,, includes a list of all AVMA Council on Education accredited U.S. veterinary colleges/schools, AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organizations, and additional resources on veterinary medicine.

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