Most veterinarians work in private practices where they diagnose, treat, and help prevent disease and disabilities in animals. The DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine) degree, however, opens up many career choices. Veterinarians can be practitioners, researchers, public servants, administrators, and teachers. They may work with one or more species of animals, or with additional training, in a clinical specialty such as cardiology, surgery, or neurology. Veterinarians safeguard human health by controlling diseases that can spread from animals to humans.
Veterinarians can start their own businesses or work with others in group practices. Some work for nutrition and pharmaceutical companies. Others do research or enforce regulations for state and federal government agencies. Some join the military, while others work as researchers, teachers, and clinicians in academic institutions. Some veterinarians get involved in international work. Others work at racetracks, zoos, and breeding farms.
To become a veterinarian, you need at least seven years of education beyond high school. You must complete at least three years in an accredited college or university undergraduate program before starting your four-year professional curriculum.
In high school, take college preparatory courses. These include four years of mathematics, science (with special emphasis on chemistry and physics), English, and social sciences. Work with as many different types of animals as you can on farms, in veterinary practices, in zoos, with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and elsewhere to help you decide if veterinary medicine is for you.
-- Eugenia Kelman, Cornell University