Animal Medicine and Health Careers

Relative Skills and Interests: anatomy & physiology, medicine, ability to handle and treat sick and injured animals, ability to communicate effectively, patience, strong work ethic

Position: Veterinarian

Job Description: Veterinarians (vets) are physicians for animals.  Most work with common domestic animals like cats and dogs, but some have experience and knowledge caring for other animals, including ferrets, rabbits, birds, farm animals, and horses.  Some vets may work only with livestock or wildlife.  Veterinarians not only provide wellness exams on animals and treat illness, they can also perform important surgeries– including spays and neuters– and provide pet owners with important information about responsible animal guardianship.

Opportunities: Veterinarians may choose to specialize by focusing in a specific field, including surgery, dermatology, internal medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, or one of many other options.  Vets can work in private practice, an animal hospital, in an animal shelter, a zoo or aquarium, a farm, or in an educational institution.

Education and Training Needed: Most veterinarians have an undergraduate degree with coursework in biology and animal science.  Veterinary school is an additional four-year program for which enrollment is very selective.  Once finishing veterinary school, graduates must take and pass a national exam.  Depending on the specialty, some veterinarians may be required to complete a one to three year internship/residency.


Position: Veterinary Technician/ Assistant

Job Description: Veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants assist veterinarians in most aspects of their practice, much like a nurse does for a doctor.  They help veterinarians immunize and treat animals, handle and restrain animals, prepare animals for surgery, and calculate drug dosages.

Opportunities: Veterinary technicians and assistants can work almost anywhere a veterinarian works, as they need additional staff to handle and treat animals.

Education and Training Needed: Veterinary technicians require schooling and special training, generally two-to-three year Associate programs, and complete a certification exam at the end of their program.  Veterinary assistants do many of the same tasks as a veterinary technician but don’t have the same training or certification; most often, they learn on the job.


Position: Nutritionist

Job Description: Nutritionists study animal health and science, and help formulate and manufacture food and supplements for both domestic and non-domestic animals.

Opportunities: A pet nutritionist may work closely with a veterinarian to determine the nutritional needs of an animal with a special condition, including diabetes, allergies, or obesity.  Nutritionists may also work directly with individuals seeking a private consultation or with pet food manufacturers to ensure that an animal’s dietary needs are met.  Nutritionists may also provide dietary counseling for wildlife living in captivity or undergoing rehabilitation.

Education and Training Needed: The qualifications and training required to be a nutritionist varies, but many complete a Masters’ degree in Nutrition.


Position: Holistic Health Consultant

Job Description: Holistic health consultants offer treatments as alternatives or complements to traditional veterinary medicine.  Often, consultants use a combination of diet adjustment, natural medicines, and massage therapy to treat a variety of conditions in domestic animals, from allergies to anxiety.  Some of these treatments are designed to re-establish range of motion after surgery or to ease discomfort for chronic conditions like arthritis.

Opportunities: Holistic health consultants work closely with veterinarians and pet guardians to develop a routine tailored to each animal’s needs.

Education and Training Needed: Many holistic health consultants have training and education in nutrition, alternative medicine, and/or Tellington Touch (a form of touch therapy for animals).

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