Career Path Forecast
to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of veterinarians is expected
to increase 33 percent over the 2008–18 decade, much faster than the
average for all occupations. Veterinarians usually practice in animal
hospitals or clinics and care primarily for small pets. Recent trends
indicate particularly strong interest in cats as pets. Faster growth of
the cat population is expected to increase the demand for feline
medicine and veterinary services, while demand for veterinary care for
dogs should continue to grow at a more modest pace.
Many pet owners consider
their pets as members of the family, which serves as evidence that
people are placing a higher value on their pets and is an example of the
human-animal bond. These pet owners are becoming more aware of the
availability of advanced care and are more willing to pay for intensive
veterinary care than owners in the past. Furthermore, the number of pet
owners purchasing pet insurance is rising, increasing the likelihood
that considerable money will be spent on veterinary care.
pet owners also will take advantage of nontraditional veterinary
services, such as cancer treatment and preventive dental care. Modern
veterinary services have caught up to human medicine; certain
procedures, such as hip replacement, kidney transplants, and blood
transfusions, which were once only available for humans, are now
available for animals.
Continued support for
public health and food and animal safety, national disease control
programs, and biomedical research on human health problems will
contribute to the demand for veterinarians, although the number of
positions in these areas is smaller than the number in private practice.
Homeland security also may provide opportunities for veterinarians
involved in efforts to maintain abundant food supplies and minimize
animal diseases in the United States and in foreign countries.
opportunities are expected because there are only 28 accredited schools
of veterinary medicine in the United States, resulting in a limited
number of graduates -- about 2,500 -- each year. However, admission to
veterinary school is competitive.
New graduates continue
to be attracted to companion-animal medicine because they usually prefer
to deal with pets and to live and work near heavily populated areas,
where most pet owners live. Employment opportunities are very good in
cities and suburbs but even better in rural areas because fewer
veterinarians compete to work there.
veterinarians may take positions requiring evening or weekend work to
accommodate the extended hours of operation that many practices are
offering. Some veterinarians take salaried positions in retail stores
offering veterinary services. Self-employed veterinarians usually have
to work hard and long to build a sufficient client base.
number of jobs for farm-animal veterinarians is likely to grow more
slowly than the number of jobs for companion-animal veterinarians.
Nevertheless, job prospects should be excellent for farm-animal
veterinarians because of their lower earnings and because many
veterinarians do not want to work outside or in rural or isolated areas.
training in food safety and security, animal health and welfare, and
public health and epidemiology should have the best opportunities for a
career in the Federal Government.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.