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What degree do I need to be a veterinarian?

Most pet owners see their four-legged companions as more than just animals: Fido and Fluffy are often considered members of the family. Just as most people seek medical care when they're ill, pet owners can rely on their veterinarian to make sure their beloved beasts are well-cared for and healthy. This means veterinarians are skilled medical professionals who have the dedication and commitment to reaching the level of training needed to make a difference in the lives of both animals and their humans.

Future veterinarians should count on spending about eight years in school before they can practice on their own. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all veterinarians complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree from an accredited university. DVM programs can be very competitive; the BLS reports that less than 50 percent of all applicants are accepted into the degree course. The best candidates for veterinary programs usually have a bachelor's degree and a strong background in biology, chemistry, anatomy, zoology and animal science. After admittance into a four-year DVM degree program, future veterinarians can choose a specialty such as farm animals or small companion animals. The first three years of the advanced program will usually cover laboratory and classroom work; the final year typically involves a hands-on clinical internship in an established veterinary practice or animal hospital. After completion of a DVM program, veterinarians will need to pass a national exam to obtain licensure and meet other varying state requirements.


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