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Veterinarian performing surgery on a dog

A veterinarian is a licensed professional who practices veterinary medicine. Most veterinarians are involved in general practice and treat animals of all types. Other veterinarians specialize in a specific group of animals such as dog and cat, livestock, zoo animals or equines. A veterinarian may also specialize in specific veterinary disciplines such as oncology, surgery, dermatology or internal medicine.


Veterinarians treat diseases, injuries and chronic conditions in animals. The scope of a veterinarian's work depends on their education and experience, however most can perform surgery, with exception of complex procedures. Roughly 75% of American veterinarians are employed in private practice treating animals. Small animal veterinarians work in veterinary clinics and veterinary hospitals. Large animal veterinarians visit their patients at zoos or farms.


The average salary for new veterinary graduates in the United States is $68,000. The average income for private veterinary practice in the United States is $115,000.


In order to become a veterinarian you must gradate from a chartered veterinary school. In North America veterinary graduates receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. There are only 28 colleges and universities in the United States that offer a degree that meets the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) standards. The scarcity of veterinary schools has made admission to veterinary school very competitive with an acceptance rate under 50%.


After veterinary school practicing veterinarians are required to be registered and to maintain their license to practice. In the United States veterinarians must receive a passing grade on a national board examination called the North America Veterinary Licensing Exam. The exam covers all aspects of veterinary medicine.

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