As a child growing up, we may have nursed the idea of working with animals, treating and taking care of our favorite pets, especially.

However, this is much more complicated than Dr. Dolittle portrayed it to be.

Although your love for animals and the ability to adopt stray cats may push your passion to this line of career, there are other skills you must portray to make you successful.

This is why we have put up this article to outline the things involved in being a veterinarian.

A veterinarian generally has the job of being the bridge between the animals and their owners based on health grounds.

They test and diagnose animals that are sick, administer drugs, and admonish the owners on how to care for their animals.

One would think pet owners only regard this profession; however, veterinarians are responsible for the welfare of livestock, wild animals as well as pets.

There are different types of veterinarians employed in private hospitals, veterinary clinics, educational institutions, and many more.

It is one thing to decide that you want to be a veterinarian; it is yet another to know your area of specification. Veterinary Medicine is practiced in different forms. Here are five types of veterinarians.

  • Companion Animal Vets: Companion animals are mostly dogs and cats (canines and felines). Vets in this field care for these animals, treat them, vaccinate and also give euthanasia services. As a Companion Animal Vet, you will need to interact with the owners of these pets on the best practices for their animals. This form of Veterinarian practice is the most common type of veterinary career.
  • Veterinary Practitioners: These veterinarians are those who have streamlined their study and area of expertise to a particular species of animal. Some of these areas include:
    • Avian (Birds)
    • Canine and Feline (Dogs and Cats)
    • Equine (Horses)
    • Exotic Companion Mammal (rabbits, mice, and smaller mammals)
    • Amphibians and Reptiles (Snakes, Turtles, Lizards)
  • Food Animal Vets: Just as the name implies, these vets work with farm animals such as sheep, cattle, chickens. You will find Food Animal Vets in ranches and farms treating, vaccinating, and diagnosing animals. Apart from the health concerns, these vets also interact with the farmers on topics ranging from feeding, shelter, and behavioral habits of the animals.
  • Food Safety and Inspection Vets: These vets test and inspect the quality of farm animals and their products. In this field, you also have to vaccinate and research on how to improve the health of the animals. Additionally, you will make trips to the slaughterhouses to inspect how butchering is being done and the condition of the environment. You can find these vets working in public health organizations to control the spread of disease from one animal to the other and between man and animals.
  • Research Vets: The main aim of these vets is to contribute positively to human health and animal health by researching means to prevent some animal diseases from affecting humans. Research Vets also come up with medicines and treatments, as well. Additionally, they test new surgical operations and methods in a bid to advance the practice.
Source: Veterinaryrecord

Figure 1: Common conditions frequently mentioned by Veterinarians according to species

Source: Veterinaryrecord


Having outlined the various forms of Veterinary Medicine available, it is easier to pick out the duties of vets, albeit, they may differ from one way to the other.

The following are the primary duties of a Veterinarian that you should know, no matter the specific field of study:

  • Consultations with clients: Just like the human medical field, there is a need for interaction between the clients and the vets. This will enable the doctors to have an inkling on what might be the cause of the issue. In the same vein, when you interact with clients, you keep the clients in the know of what is happening with their animals. Additionally, you can advise clients on how to take care of their pets and the right practices for healthy living.
  • Immunization: One can hardly separate vaccination from veterinary Medicine. This is because these animals are likely to pick up diseases flying around and may even spread it among themselves. This is why another primary duty you will perform as a vet is to immunize the animals against diseases. As a vet, you can also do this to the young and old animals as well to improve their livelihood.
  • Physical Examinations: Animals, just like babies, can hardly express themselves or decide where the pain is coming from. Thus, it is only reasonable for you as a vet to know how to conduct these physical examinations on the animals and ascertain what the problem is.
  • Emergency Response: As a vet, you should be ready to respond to an emergency call as soon as you are reached. Also, you should be prepared to move immediately you are called upon as a good number of times, these SOS calls may be in desperate need.
  • Perform Surgeries: A vet is expected to know how to operate on the animals without much fuss. This is because many animals brought in to be checked usually require a surgical process since communication may be a bit of a barrier.
  • Dental Processes: Dental procedures are another way to improve the oral health of the animal. No one wants to nurse a dog that can’t chew appropriately, as this may be difficult. Subsequently, this issue can lead to further complications as they begin to lose weight and lack the immune needed to fight diseases. Therefore, you need to know how to treat these dental issues.
  • Prescribing Drugs and Injections: When you are done with consultations and physical as well as medical examinations, the treatment of the animal follows. More often than not, the recuperating period is mostly dependent on the drugs administered to the animal. Thus, one must know the function of each drug before administering it.
  • Euthanasia: This is usually the hardest task a vet has to perform. However, knowing that it is the best way out of the physical pains experienced will assist with how you feel. Vets are known to administer mercy killing to some animals that are unable to recuperate. Euthanasia allows you to release the animal from the pains.



After gaining a bachelor’s degree, as a vet, you will use about four years at a veterinary school.

After this, you will need to write and pass a licensing examination before you can bear the vet title.

Having gone to school and gotten the knowledge and practical experience, there are still some skills that you must possess to become a successful veterinarian. Some of these skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Communication skills
  • Technical skills
  • Time Management
  • Passion for animals


As a veterinarian, you need to communicate with clients as well as the animal; thus, you should possess empathy.

This skill is necessary because you want to be able to engage the clients and interact with them in the most comfortable way possible.

Additionally, you have to understand the complaints of your clients as the health of their pets may leave them distraught or bothered. Therefore, you must sympathize with them and ensure the safety of their pets.

Also, one must know how to interact with the animals you are working with.

Your empathy will allow you to understand their anxiety and stress so that you can make use of a relaxing and comforting attitude to soothe them.

Consequently, this will enable you to treat them adequately as they will be more open to receiving treatments.

Communication Skills

This goes both ways as you want to communicate with the clients and their animals as well. You also have to act like the bridge connecting the pets and their owners; hence, communication skills are imperative.

When you have excellent communication skills, you will be able to describe and explain the current situation issue in a concise term to the pet owners.

Additionally, you will find it easy to listen to the concerns and questions of the client.

However, if you work as a vet assistant, you need these skills because you will get to communicate with clients most time, whether on the phone or in-person, even before the vet meets with the client. Thus, you should be able to offer care tips, book appointments, and check up on previous patients.

As a vet, you also need top-notch communication skills working with your team.

This will help with a smooth running of operations and an understanding between you, vet technicians, and assistants.

Also, it’s important to know that nonverbal means of communication is vital for workers and can help you increase productivity with your team.

Technical Skills

Veterinarians work with some equipment and lab machinery that give accurate results and diagnostics when working with injured and ailing animals.

Thus, as a vet, you should know how to operate this somewhat complex machinery to help with blood and urine related tests.

Additionally, you have to be familiar with surgical equipment and X-ray machines to help with diagnostics.

In the same vein, if you find yourself working as a vet assistant, you should be conversant with these machines to assist the vet in sterilizing, disinfecting, and setting up some of this equipment quickly.

The front desk handling also requires some level of technical skills to track schedules and appointments effectively.

Moreover, medical records handling will aid with current diagnostics and treatment of some animals; thus, the ability to handle them is needed.

As a vet, the ability to operate this machinery will save time and help the vet to focus more on the patient.

Time Management

As a Veterinarian, you will be swamped with appointments with clients and surgical procedures, but your ability to manage your time will increase productivity.

A vet assistant should also exhibit this skill as they are in charge of fixing schedules and booking appointments for clients.

You have to keep up with your schedule to avoid being rushed while attending to a patient. Additionally, you could have a list of tasks to achieve within a given time; the best thing to do is to prioritize and attend to the most challenging first.

Also, vet assistants are expected to fix schedules for the veterinary team; thus, they need to have time management and excellent organizational skills.

Passion for Animals

This is an essential skill a veterinarian must have.

Although it could have been the driving force for you to study the course, it is still needed for you to excel while practicing.

You need to be passionate about the welfare of the animals, as this will help you do the best for your patients.

Additionally, this skill is one that will help you succeed in this career as you the drive to do all you can to save the animals. Also, if you have a passion for what you do, you will find your job rewarding.


1. Surprises are Part of the Job

As a veterinarian, you will be exposed to different pets with different kinds of reactions to their environment.

Do not be surprised in case you find yourself faced with a dog that is sensitive to an object in the room or a cat that is scared of unfamiliar faces.

The truth is while working with animals; you do not know what to expect from each animal. Therefore, always have a backup plan in case things do not go as planned.

Dr. Wystrach says, “The unique challenge of veterinary medicine is that there is never anything that happens according to plan.”

Thus, always expect the unexpected daily and have a solution to possible problems that may arise.

2. Prepare for an Evolving Career

You may have completed the four years of compulsory veterinary school after your bachelor’s degree; your job is one that can evolve at any time.

You may have plans of being a Research Vet, but you may find yourself tilting toward the Companion Animal Veterinary field.

This is normal as you get to work with different animals while practicing, thus, exposure to other areas.

Consequently, you may find your focus changing, hence, your career. Also, while practicing, you could find other fields to combine with your current area of choice.

Veterinary science has an active research field that comes up with new methods and new ways of treating different animals.

As a result of this, you could find your present career undergoing a facelift or getting advanced ways of handling issues that may arise.

3. More Interaction with People than Animals

One may think that becoming a veterinarian will mean more interaction with animals than humans; however, this is not the case. The animals you treat are owned by people who may or may not be easy to deal with.

Therefore, prepare yourself to communicate with people as you will be in constant interaction with them on the health of their pets.

It is almost impossible to begin treatment on an animal without talking with their owner.

This is because you need to know the medical history of the animals as well as the symptoms the animals are experiencing.

Additionally, diagnosing and administering drugs to animals is one task that is peculiar to the owner of the animal as the animals are not able to take their drug dosage without help from their owners.

4. Be Business Oriented

The dream of most veterinarians is to break out and own a private facility or clinic. December 2017 Statistics obtained from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) shows that more than 70,000 Veterinarians practice privately in their clinics.

Owning and running a business requires a bit more skill set than what you get from the school. One must be business savvy to handle the business area of the private clinic.

Therefore, if you have plans to go private, you should try to get as much business certifications as possible.

This will allow you to maximize profit while giving your best as regards the health of your patients.


Figure 2: Median Salaries for Veterinary Careers


5. Vet School will Provide You with an Extensive Knowledge-base

One of the most tasking career choices to make as regards school practices is Veterinary science. This is because of the amount of knowledge that is being dispensed.

Your four years in vet school promises to gift you a large material base that will be useful to your career.

Although assimilating and memorizing this vast amount of material may be exhaustive, the truth is everything you learn will come in handy one way or another while you are practicing. Therefore, prepare to study diligently and know all you will be taught before you start on your career path.

Despite this insight, veterinary science is one exciting career path, and the good part is that every material garnered in your knowledge bank will be put to good use someday.

6. The Job Needs Some Level of Caution

Veterinary practice can be all fun and games until you receive a bite from a dog, cat, or even a reptile.

No matter what field of veterinary you find yourself in, prepare yourself ahead of bites and nicks from the animals as this could cost you your career.

For instance, Sue says, “A bad one to the hand could end your surgical career” while speaking about cat bites.

Also, if a monkey spits in your eye, you could be at risk as some may contain monkey herpes that is deadly to humans.

Additionally, as a vet working in a farmhouse or ranch, you are also exposed to some injuries that could be fatal to you.

Therefore, no matter what field you find yourself in, endeavor to work with care. Handle your patients with care and also yourself.

To this end, there is a specific protective gear you should have while treating any animal, as this allows you to protect yourself while working.


Veterinarians are superheroes in their rights as they are responsible for the lives of our pets and animals. This is one lucrative career choice that requires some level of expertise.

The average yearly salary of a veterinarian in the United States is $93,830, as of 2018.

However, the salary range differs from one institution to the other as well as the country where one finds himself in.

In addition to what you need as a vet, you should rely on your staff and try as much as possible to encourage teamwork to give a satisfactory result.

What You Need to Know About Being a Veterinarian

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