What does a Veterinarian do?

Veterinarians are educated and trained in the medical and surgical care of animals.

What might a Veterinarian do in a workday?

They provide diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive medical expertise across a broad array of species and disciplines:

  • companion animals, predominantly dogs and cats, but including many other companion species, such as “pocket” mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. As companion animals assume greater emotional value, veterinarians are increasingly considered to be members of the family-care team.
  • food-producing animals, such as cattle, swine, sheep, poultry and commercial fish; thereby ensuring a plentiful, safe food supply.
  • horses, including those used for performance and pleasure.
  • zoo animals and wildlife, both terrestrial and aquatic species; and including environmental/ecosystem health and conservation.
  • biomedical research and laboratory animal medicine, in governmental, industrial and academic organizations, in support of health research and development.
  • public health and food safety, especially protecting against toxic
  • chemicals and drugs and infectious microorganisms that are transmissible from animals to humans. Veterinarians are an integral part of national defense teams organized to counter agro- and bioterrorism.
  • disaster response and relief efforts; in addition to providing care for individual animals after natural and man-made disasters, veterinarians protect public health by assisting local authorities in addressing disease risks.
  • military veterinarians provide care for military animals as well as educate farmers in undeveloped countries how to keep their animals healthy and safe.
  • veterinarians in government service help write and enforce legislation to protect animal health, human health and the country’s food supply.

How much salary do Veterinarians make?

Annual Mean Wage

How do I become a Veterinarian?

Students interested in becoming veterinarians should take the most challenging high school courses available in science, math and English, including advanced placement courses.

To enter a graduate program in veterinary medicine, students must complete a minimum of two years of pre-veterinary study. Most successful candidates complete a four-year program.

Licensed veterinarians must earn a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine from a school or college of veterinary medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education and must pass both national and state examinations.

Where else can I learn about becoming a Veterinarian?

Professional Associations:

Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
3801 Westerre Parkway
Suite D
Henrico, VA 23233
(804) 346-2611
(800) 937-8862

American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N. Meacham Road
Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360
(800) 248-2862

American Veterinary Medical Foundation
1931 N. Meacham Road
Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(800) 248-2862, ext. 6689

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
655 K Street NW
Suite 725
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 371-9195

State License Requirements for Veterinarians

A license is required to practice as a veterinarian in the state of Virginia. For more information on licensure, applications and forms, visit

Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233
Phone: (804) 367-4497

Find Local Support

Blue Ridge Region AHEC – Shenandoah Valley

Capital Region AHEC – Richmond Metro and surrounding areas

Eastern Virginia Region AHEC – Southeast Virginia and Peninsula

Northern Virginia Region AHEC – Northern Virginia

Rappahannock Region AHEC – Northern Neck, Fredericksburg, and Middle Peninsula

South Central Region AHEC – Lynchburg, Danville, and surrounding area

Southside Region AHEC – South of Richmond

Southwest Virginia Region AHEC – Roanoke Valley and West