May 12, 2008
What This Job Pays: Veterinarian
Pay: The median pay of a veterinarian in the Seattle area is $90,044, with most making from $76,050 to $104,522, according to salary.com.
Demand: Employment is expected to increase 12 percent during the 2006-16 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Faster growth of the cat population is expected to increase the demand for feline medicine and vet services. Demand for vet care for dogs should continue to grow at a more modest pace.
Many pet owners are relatively affluent and consider their pets members of the family. These owners are becoming more aware of the availability of advanced care and are more willing to pay for it. Also, the number of people with pet insurance is rising.
More pet owners will take advantage of nontraditional services, such as cancer treatment and preventive dental care. Vet services have caught up to human medicine. Certain procedures, such as hip replacement, kidney transplants and blood transfusions, are now available for animals.
Need to know: Prospective veterinarians must graduate with a doctor of veterinary medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree from a four-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine.
There are 28 colleges in 26 states that meet accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Washington State University is one.
The prerequisites for admission to veterinary programs vary. Many programs do not require a bachelor's degree for entrance, but all require a significant number of credit hours — ranging from 45 to 90 semester hours – at the undergraduate level. Most of the students admitted have completed an undergraduate program and earned a bachelor's degree. Applicants without a degree face a difficult task.
Pre-veterinary courses should emphasize the sciences. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken classes in organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, general biology, animal biology, animal nutrition, genetics, vertebrate embryology, cellular biology, microbiology, zoology and systemic physiology. Increasingly, courses in general business management and career development have become standard to teach new graduates how to effectively run a practice.
Applicants must submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), depending on the preference of the college to which they are applying.
There is keen competition for admission to veterinary school. The number of accredited veterinary colleges has remained largely the same since 1983, but the number of applicants has risen significantly. Only about one in three was accepted in 2005.
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