What Does A Veterinarian Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Veterinarians

Veterinarians diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. Includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.

Salary
$108350
Becoming One
Very Hard
Education
Doctoral degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Veterinarians diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. Includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.

  • Examine animals to detect and determine the nature of diseases or injuries.
  • Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds, or performing surgery.
  • Collect body tissue, feces, blood, urine, or other body fluids for examination and analysis.
  • Inoculate animals against various diseases, such as rabies or distemper.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Veterinarians examine animals to detect and determine the nature of diseases or injuries. They inoculate animals against various diseases, such as rabies or distemper.

A typical day for a Veterinarian will also include:

  • Direct the overall operations of animal hospitals, clinics, or mobile services to farms.
  • Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds, or performing surgery.
  • Collect body tissue, feces, blood, urine, or other body fluids for examination and analysis.
  • Advise animal owners regarding sanitary measures, feeding, general care, medical conditions, or treatment options.
  • Operate diagnostic equipment, such as radiographic or ultrasound equipment, and interpret the resulting images.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Veterinarians also euthanize animals. They may also counsel clients about the deaths of their pets or about euthanasia decisions for their pets.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Veterinarians specialize in a particular type of treatment, such as dentistry, pathology, nutrition, surgery, microbiology, or internal medicine. They might also determine the effects of drug therapies, antibiotics, or new surgical techniques by testing them on animals.

In addition, they perform administrative or business management tasks, such as scheduling appointments, accepting payments from clients, budgeting, or maintaining business records.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them plan or execute animal nutrition or reproduction programs.

To some Veterinarians, it is also their responsibility to drive mobile clinic vans to farms so that health problems can be treated or prevented.

Spoiler title
Hidden content

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
0%

Some freedom
24%

A lot of freedom
76%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
6%

Limited freedom
7%

Some freedom
40%

A lot of freedom
47%

Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

70% said they were satisfied with their job and 85% said they found their job meaningful.


I am a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) from the University of Lisbon, Portugal and I trained at different hospitals all over the world, from Equine clinical practice to volunteering in South Africa and Belize working with all sorts of wild animals. Taking an x-ray on a horse. It requires at least two people, ideally … Read More


Westridge Animal Hospital

Typically, I arrive at the clinic around 8 a.m. and start seeing appointments every 30 minutes through lunch, then I have a lunch break where I call owners or review lab work that has arrived, attend a presentation from a local vendor, or write records. In the afternoon, I continue to see patients and write … Read More


Various wildlife conservation centers

In my youth, I volunteered at various conservation centers as a veterinarian and facilitator. I was in charge of taking care of the animals that required medical assistance and I advised the caretakers on what the animals need to stay happy. I stayed on-site and check on all the animals in the clinic the first … Read More


Holiday Vet

Dr. Caren Carney is a relief veterinarian. Relief or locum work is when an experienced, fully-credentialed veterinarian works in or even manages someone else’s practice for a short time, to cover for staffing shortages, maternity, and sick leave, or vacations. Most relief vets are independent contractors, which can be a challenge. My day as a … Read More


Durango Animal Hospital

I start work at 6AM Monday-Saturday and stop seeing appointments at 4PM (although I am usually here until closer to 5PM). I do have a small block for lunch/meetings, but I usually use that time to accommodate clients that have an emergency. 6AM-8AM: I spend my time seeing walk-ins and checking in procedures for the … Read More


As is true with any other profession, being a veterinarian carries its pros and cons. It is often hailed as a rewarding and honest career, requiring a diligent work ethic and a compassionate heart for an individual to be successful. Over my 15 years as a veterinarian, having taken on many different roles, it has … Read More


My name is Dr. Madison Rose. I am a veterinarian and the owner of two veterinary practices. I have been a veterinarian for 6 years. I love being a veterinarian. What I love most about this profession is that there are so many avenues to take after you receive your degree. I have friends from … Read More


I am Sara Ochoa, DVM. I am a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas. Being a vet has good days and bad. Many times I can help people’s pets get better. There are days that no matter what I do I can not fix them. Some people will get very upset and even angry … Read More


Being a veterinarian is like being a jack of all trades. I feel like a dentist, primary care provider, surgeon, anesthesiologist, dermatologist, emergency physician, and more! Being a veterinarian is a very demanding but rewarding job. My work life involves half preventive care, giving vaccines, and doing wellness checks on pets- both a physical exam … Read More


Sunset Veterinary Clinic

As a veterinarian, we fill many roles including healthcare provider, public health advocate, financial advisor, family counselor, grief counselor, mind reader, animal psychiatrist, human psychiatrist, and on and on. We spin many plates on many sticks trying to keep up. Being a veterinarian is the most rewarding and taxing profession I can imagine. Picture a … Read More


Safe Hounds Pet Insurance

Being a veterinarian is a jack of all trades in the medical world, especially for general practitioners. As a veterinarian, I have to wear the hats of internal medicine, ophthalmologist, surgeon, dentist, cardiologist, nutritionist, and hospice care. We can be with you through the entire life span of your pet, from juvenile to senior. We … Read More


Pros

Suitable for people who like to solve problems mentally.

Suitable for people who value achievements and are results-oriented.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

Demand for this career is growing fast.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to start and carry out projects.

It is very hard to get into this career. Extensive skills, knowledge, and experience are required for this career.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$108350 per year

Average hourly wage

$52 per hour

Entry-level Veterinarians with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $60,690 to $79,430 per year or $29 to $38 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $164,490 $79
Senior (Top 25%) $126,260 $61
Median $99,250 $48
Junior (Bottom 25%) $79,430 $38
No experience (Bottom 10%) $60,690 $29

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Veterinarians based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Specialty Hospitals $154310 $74.19
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services $126000 $60.58
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $122470 $58.88
Scientific Research and Development Services $118500 $56.97
Employment Services $112600 $54.14
Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods $109060 $52.43
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $109050 $52.43
Management of Companies and Enterprises $108520 $52.17
Spectator Sports $105570 $50.76
Local Government $105350 $50.65

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Veterinarians work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Veterinarians including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 66950 $109050 $52.43
Federal Executive Branch 1170 $97370 $46.81
Social Advocacy Organizations 910 $101250 $48.68
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 750 $89900 $43.22
State Government 690 $93810 $45.10
Other Personal Services 440 $99860 $48.01
Scientific Research and Development Services 380 $118500 $56.97
Local Government 380 $105350 $50.65
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing 370 $100040 $48.10
Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions 170 $90280 $43.41

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
18%

40 hours
26%

More than 40 hours
56%

Working schedule

92%

8%

0%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
0%

Important
0%

Very important
18%

Extremely important
82%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
0%

Important
7%

Very important
22%

Extremely important
71%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
3%

Fairly important
0%

Important
5%

Very important
22%

Extremely important
69%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
40%

Every day
57%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
3%

Every day
97%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
100%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
37%

Once a year
40%

Once a month
3%

Once a week
0%

Every day
21%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
0%

Once a year
19%

Once a month
19%

Once a week
45%

Every day
17%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
0%

Once a year
9%

Once a month
37%

Once a week
40%

Every day
15%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
57%

Once a year
37%

Once a month
6%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
5%

Slightly competitive
24%

Moderately competitive
26%

Highly competitive
28%

Extremely competitive
16%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
16%

Fairly important
25%

Important
9%

Very Important
27%

Extremely Important
23%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
0%

Minor impact
6%

Moderate impact
0%

Important impact
28%

Very important impact
67%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
0%

Once a year
6%

Once a month
0%

Once a week
4%

Every day
90%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
0%

Limited responsibility
6%

Moderate responsibility
14%

High responsibility
35%

Very high responsibility
45%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
3%

Limited responsibility
7%

Moderate responsibility
6%

High responsibility
46%

Very high responsibility
38%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
0%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
4%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
96%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
74%

Once a year or more
16%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
5%

Every day
5%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
74%

Once a year or more
12%

Once a month or more
4%

Once a week or more
4%

Every day
6%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
73%

Once a year or more
10%

Once a month or more
7%

Once a week or more
8%

Every day
2%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Very Hard
You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge, and experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require graduate school and more than five years of experience. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include Pharmacists, Lawyers, Astronomers, Neurologists, and Veterinarians.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
0%

Bachelor’s Degree
0%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
9%

Doctoral Degree
79%

Post-Doctoral Training
12%

Relevant majors

Veterinary Behaviorist Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians to understand and treat the behavioral problems of animals, primarily through the application of behavior modification techniques to companion animals; may also involve diagnosis of medical conditions that can affect a pet's behavior, and the use of medication in conjunction with behavior modification therapy.

Theriogenology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and health problems affecting the reproductive systems of animals, and the comprehensive care and treatment of parent animals, animal fetuses and newborn or newly hatched animals throughout the gestation period.

Veterinary Surgery Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the care and treatment of animal diseases and disorders via invasive procedures and the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of physical disorders. Includes instruction in clinical and operative skills, pre-operative and post-operative care, trauma management, endoscopic techniques, and applications to large and small animal medicine.


Veterinary Practice Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the provision of regular and long-term care to animals, health services to owners, and the management of independent veterinary practices. Includes instruction in comprehensive care and specialist referral, basic surgery, emergency medical procedures, and diagnostic imaging.

Zoological Medicine Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the specialized treatment and care of zoo animals, performing animals, and animals living in the wild. Includes instruction in the principles and procedures used in the observation, diagnosis, care and treatment of illness, disease, injury, deformity, or other anomalies in non-domesticated animals.

Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians to apply advanced knowledge of the chemical properties and biological effects of drugs to rational drug therapy in animal patients. Includes instruction in the comparative pharmacology of principal drug groups, pharmacokinetics, basic mechanisms and features of diseases occurring in domesticated animals, the role of drugs in modifying the disease process, and specific skills critical to the practice of clinical pharmacology.


Veterinary Toxicology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the clinical application of research on the nature and extent of adverse effects of synthetic and naturally occurring chemical substances on animals. Includes instruction in chemical mechanisms and the specialties of reproductive, developmental, genetic, forensic, inhalation and neurobehavioral toxicology.

Veterinary Radiology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the use of radiologic imaging and therapies to diagnose and treat animal diseases and health problems. Includes instruction in the use and handling of equipment for radionuclides detection and application.

Poultry Veterinarian Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians to work in the commercial poultry industry, providing services and technical support pertaining to prevention, diagnosis, and management of disease; epidemiology; genetics; and nutrition.


Veterinary Preventive Medicine Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the investigation of and intervention in health and disease problems of animal and related human communities, comparative medicine, and animal public health. Includes instruction in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental control, toxicology and the planning and administration of animal health programs and services.

Veterinary Microbiology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in clinical applications of research on harmful microorganisms, including viruses, and of the disease processes they induce in animals.


Veterinary Ophthalmology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of ophthalmic diseases and disorders in animals, and related ocular pathology procedures. Includes instruction in animal eye surgery.

Veterinary Anesthesiology Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the application of anesthesia for general and specialized surgery and obstetrics, critical animal care and the care of pain problems. Includes instruction in surgical procedures, current monitoring procedures, fluid therapy, pain management, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures outside the operating room, and operating room safety.

Veterinary Dentistry Residency Program

A residency training program that prepares veterinarians in the application of dental care procedures to the teeth, eating surfaces, and oral cavities of animals. Includes instruction in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and abnormalities of animal teeth and gums and related parts of the oral cavity; and related anatomical and physiological principles.


Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
19%

1 month
4%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
6%

1 to 2 years
26%

2 to 4 years
10%

4 to 6 years
17%

6 to 8 years
7%

8 to 10 years
3%

Over 10 years
8%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
10%

1 month
15%

1 to 3 months
11%

3 to 6 months
5%

6 months to 1 year
29%

1 to 2 years
8%

2 to 4 years
16%

4 to 10 years
3%

Over 10 years
4%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

The Builder
81%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
100%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
29%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
52%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
24%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
38%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
100%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
83%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
86%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
86%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
67%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
90%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


Don’t know which career to pursue?

Take the career quiz to find careers that match your personality type.

Take The Career Quiz