Career Profile: Veterinarian
When people get sick, they go to a doctor. Do you know where they take animals that are sick? The doctors who look after animals, whether they are pets like cats and dogs or farm animals like sheep, are called veterinarians, or vets. Just like doctors for humans, veterinarians are experts in health and diseases for their patients. Becoming a veterinarian takes a lot of hard work, but it can be an enjoyable and rewarding profession for people who like helping animals.
Taking care of animals can be complicated, especially since, unlike human patients, animals are unable to tell their doctors about any problems they are having. Veterinarians have to be able to diagnose problems just by doing tests and by looking at the animals for signs of illness or injury. They need verbal skills to be able to talk with the animals’ owners, but they also need to know about animal behavior, such as what it means when a horse lies down on the ground or a dog hides under the furniture. Problem-solving is an important part of the work. Veterinarians have to look at how the animal is acting and use their knowledge of diseases to determine the issue and decide on treatment. Someone who loves animals and spends time with them is likely to have some of these necessary skills for veterinary work.
Besides an understanding of animals, veterinarians need formal education. Usually people start out with at least two years of studies in an area such as agriculture or general science. Next, they take about four years of studies at a university to get a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. This degree teaches them about illnesses, medications, regular care, and anything else they need to know. Once they finish, they have to take an exam to receive a certificate of qualification.
Veterinarians can follow one of two basic streams. Many veterinarians work with pets, such as dogs, cats, and hamsters. Others work with farm animals, where they might have to deal with large animals like cows and horses or small animals like chickens. Veterinarians for pets can often work out of offices since the animals they treat are small enough to bring into buildings. However, veterinarians who work with large animals normally have to travel to see the animals in barns or stables. Some veterinarians work in government departments, teaching, or research.
Working as a veterinarian can be a stressful job. The animals can be difficult to handle, especially when they are in pain or are afraid of what is happening to them. For people who really love animals, it can also be difficult to give their patients painful treatments or vaccinations. Because of stresses like these, many veterinarians change professions after about twenty years, although some stay in their work for an entire career. On average, veterinarians make about $70,000 per year, although the salary varies according to where they work and the types of animals they treat.
Do you want to help animals? Maybe you should consider becoming a veterinarian.