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Types of Veterinarians: What You Need to Know

There are currently 49,434 veterinarians working in the US. The profession is growing at a rapid rate, and there are currently 18 openings for every job-seeker.

This increase has several causes, including the number of pet-owning households and a general love of animals in the country. There’s also a variety of options to choose from for how and where to work.

Read on to learn about the different types of veterinarians.

Companion Animal Vets

68% of U.S. households own a pet. That includes 471 million dogs and about 370 million cats.

That’s part of why companion animal vets are the most common types of veterinarians. They make up 77% of jobs on the market today.

They specialize in caring for cats and dogs. They may also have experience with other types of companion animals, including:

  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Tortoises
  • Turtles
  • Snakes

Improving pet health is their primary concern. They perform examinations or surgeries, administer medications, and create treatment plans.

Large Animal Vets

Large animal vets associate with larger animals. They focus on caring for livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, and horses.

They do most of the same procedures that companion animal vets do but in the field. They’ll have to get around the challenges of working without equipment that they can’t bring with them and animals that won’t fit in the office.

Any large animal veterinarian also needs to not be afraid of getting their hands dirty. They need to go out to the farm at a moment’s notice when an emergency arises.

A large animal vet doesn’t have to stick with all large animals. They may decide to specialize in a specific area or species.

A farm animal vet works on cattle, sheep, poultry, or pigs. They increase milk production on dairy farms and keep morality rates low on others. They also provide one of the most underrated benefits of veterinarians; improved food safety.

An equine vet provides care to horses. They’ll keep them healthy and make sure they can perform on farms, in races, or however else their owner needs them to.

Exotic Animal Vets

Exotic animals aren’t as uncommon an option for a pet as you’d think. 17.6 million of them are kept in 9 million US households. 51% are reptiles and 26% are birds.

Exotic animal veterinarians can work in specialized practices where these animals are the only ones they see. They can also treat them as part of their companion animal practice if they have enough knowledge and experience. There are even veterinary practices out there that treat almost everything, including small, large, and exotic animals.

Marine Vets

Fish are the third most popular pet in the United States. A marine vet can specialize in treating them, but they can also move beyond that.

Marine veterinarians can work anywhere there are aquatic animals. They can go to a zoo or water park and treat the aquatic animals there such as sea lions or dolphins. They can also go to a nonprofit animal rescue and help rehabilitate them before they’re released back into the wild.

Military Vets

Military animals are an underappreciated resource for the military. They help during conflicts, work on bases, sniff out bombs, and more.

A military veterinarian needs to be familiar with a variety of animals. Not all of them are ones that you’d expect to appear in conflict. In addition to the familiar k9 crews, a military vet may see:

  • Horses
  • Dolphins
  • Sea lions
  • Bees

The military vet provides care for these brave creatures so that they can do their job. They may also end up performing research on behalf of the armed forces.

Zoo Vets

A zoo veterinarian works on perhaps the most exotic animals of all. They may specialize in a certain section, such as primates or reptiles, or provide general care throughout the facility.

Their duties depend on where they work, but the most common tasks they’ll need to perform are:

  • Performing health assessments
  • Administering medication
  • Monitoring injuries
  • Tranquilizing zoo animals for transport and treatments

It can be a dangerous but exciting career field. You’ll need communication skills as well as medical knowledge because you’ll have to work well with everyone else at the zoo.

Specialist Vets

Being a veterinarian goes far beyond providing basic animal care. Your degree can open up a variety of opportunities.

Only 1-2% of vets are specialists, but that makes them one of the most in-demand types of veterinarians. It takes a few extra years of schooling to become one. The knowledge you gain will make you a valuable asset. You’ll be the professional that others call when they need an expert opinion.

There are several ways to become a specialist. You may choose to focus on a specific species that you love working with. There are also at least 20 different specialist fields to choose from, including:

  • Dermatology
  • Internal medicine
  • Surgery
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Anesthesiology
  • Pathology

Gaining and providing knowledge may become your favorite part of the veterinary profession. You may enjoy studying to become a professor and educate the next generation at a veterinary school.

If studying in the lab in the lab is your thing, you can train to become a laboratory veterinarian. Your research could provide helpful insight into animal care, medication, food safety, and more.

Consider veterinary practice consulting if you already have a practice but aren’t sure where you want to take it next. It can help you grow so you can provide the services you enjoy and your clients need.

More Types of Veterinarians

There are several types of veterinarians out there for job-seekers to choose from. The most popular option is working with companion animals such as dogs and cats. You can also go to the farm for large animals.

Work with exotic pets or zoo life for a bit of a change. Marine life and military animals also need care.

You don’t even have to work directly with the animals to make a difference. You can research in a laboratory or teach new veterinarians in schools.

Read the rest of our content for more information.

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