How Long Does It Take To Become A Veterinarian?

portrait of a veterinarian and assistant in a small animal clinic at work

Most of the careers in the field of medical science take years of educations and practical hands-on experience. Becoming a vet tech is no exception to this rule. Veterinary technicians are medical personnel who primarily deal with the health care of animals. It can usually take about 4 years (minimum) to start your own practice, but it can take more too depending on the certifications you are trying to acquire.

Bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree is extremely important for getting admission into a veterinary school. It is also equally important to take courses that are pre-requisite for learning about veterinary medicine. This usually takes about 4 years to get the bachelor’s degree.

Alternatively, you can also try to earn an associate’s degree with something related to animal health care. This considerably reduces the time required to achieve your degree since it usually takes 2 years to get your associate’s degree.

In some extremely rare cases, people do not have any of the above-mentioned qualifications. They try and complete all their pre-requisite courses in vet school directly which saves them a lot of time. However, the workload in these scenarios is considerably higher.

Veterinary school
After getting your bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree you can apply to a veterinary school for a doctorate degree. This can usually take up to 4 years, where 3 of the years are spent in learning the theoretical parts of veterinary medicine while the last year is spent in learning about the practical side of it. Some vet schools offer 2 years of theoretical training and 2 years of hands on training where you work directly with animals. The theoretical studies include that of animal anatomy, physiology, parasitology, nutritional care and many other things.

After graduating from an accredited veterinary school, you are mandated to take the licensing exam to earn the right to practice medicine by yourself. You can take your time to prepare for this test. If you want, you can also try to give this test before you graduate. If you are studying at an accredited vet school, you can give the test about 8 months prior to your graduation date. This will allow you to start practicing medicine as a vet tech as soon as you graduate.

It is highly recommended by professionals that people intern for at least one year under some vet tech (after getting licensed) before they start practicing medicine This will help them get more experience in the field and thus learn about more procedures that may be of help later.

After one starts his / her own practice as a vet, they can choose to try and specialize in some or the other field of veterinary medicine. Some of these fields include anesthesia, zoology, behavior, surgery, and dermatology. The time required for becoming a specialist varies from individual to individual. Being a specialized vet, one earns much more than a general practitioner.

Aside from this conventional way of being a veterinary technician, one might also choose to climb the ladder from being a veterinary assistant. However, even in this case, a bachelor’s degree is mandatory. To sum it up –
Bachelor’s degree (4) + Veterinary school (4) + Licensure exam (0) + Internship (1) =
Total (9)

So, on an average, it can take a person about 9 years to become a veterinarian. A person can try to do it in 3 years and 4 months too, but that is next to impossible. Someone might take a bit longer if he / she needs to prepare a bit more for the licensure exam. One might want to intern a bit longer or specialize in some or the other field.

After all this training, the fruit borne from all your hard work is definitely a sweet one. An average veterinarian can earn up to $100,000 depending on experience and the location of where he / she practices. Also, that person gets to enjoy the company of friendly, loveable creatures all day long and put a smile on their faces. All this makes everything quite worth it. So, if you love animals and medicine, this is definitely the job for you!