Livestock Veterinarian: Education and Career Information
A livestock veterinarian is a good career choice for someone who is interested in the care, maintenance and treatment of livestock, such as swine, horses and cattle. Although they are licensed to work with other animals, you will find livestock veterinarians in a number of food-related industries. You will find them working with on farms, reproductive work, stables and in private practice. The profession is continuously growing, with expansion of 33% projected from 2008 to 2018. There are a large number of livestock veterinarians in the United States, but Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom lead in licensed professionals.
What does a Livestock Veterinarian do?
A livestock veterinarian is a licensed veterinarian specializing in the management and well-being of horses. They diagnose and treat illnesses and issues occurring with livestock to make sure they remain in optimal health. A livestock veterinarian assists with horses who compete as a career and work with breeders. Livestock veterinarians work with a variety of farm animals, servicing both small and large animals. This profession works an unconventional schedule, with longer work weeks and on call responsibilities.
Beyond working with horses and other animals, you may find these veterinarians working in academia, with the government, as a researcher, and with the military. Typical duties for this role include drawing blood, prescribing medicine, basic health and wellness exams, performing surgeries, x-rays and caring for wounds. They assist with births and other duties that are necessary. Public health and food animal safety concerns are also handled by Livestock Veterinarians.
How much do Livestock Veterinarians earn?
Being a livestock veterinarian can be very lucrative. The industry is quickly expanding and will accommodate the influx of new veterinarians. The average salary is $85,000, but varies based on location, specialization, experience and work environment. Livestock veterinarians who work in private practice can make over $100,000 a year.
What types of skills are needed to be successful in this field?
There are a number of skills necessary to become an livestock veterinarian:
Math and Science: Since this is a clinical specialization, having a thorough background in math and science is instrumental in being successful. This career path involves a lot of science and math coursework, including calculus, physics and zoology. A complete understanding of calculations for medicine based on weight, mixing formulas for maximized effectiveness and understanding the nutritional content are key.
Writing skills: There is quite a bit of paperwork and written communication involved in the practice of a livestock veterinarian. There must be a detailed account of every assessment, evaluation and treatment. These records are crucial in documenting the health of different animals, and plays a huge role in their sale and upkeep. Writing skills are also necessary when working on research and other professional documents that will be disseminated to colleagues and organizations.
Business Skills: There are a number of livestock veterinarians who have gone into private practice, or travel to different locations. Having a grasp of basic business principles will come in handy. Livestock veterinarians who work for corporate entities or governmental offices will have budgets to maintain. It is best to understand all the elements of standard business practices to keep the records up-to-date. When working as a private contractor, contracts and other documents will need to be involved. Knowing the business aspect of how contracts work and reading financial reports will help keep your business on the upswing.
Ability to work with others: Being able to work with a number of individuals and entities is key in being successful in this field. Your ability to work with others and create a sense of trust will go a long way in getting new clients and retaining the existing ones. Remaining professional even in the event of a disagreement will go a long way.
Compassion: There are a number of situations that can occur with livestock. For owners, it is important to understand their concerns. Livestock veterinarians must be sensitive to certain situations and be able to effectively listen to any issues that are happening.
Love for animals: A livestock veterinarian should have a passion and enjoyment in working with animals. This will go a long way in the way you handle and care for the horses.
Standard residency and internships occur during the second two years of veterinary school. The internships include supervision under licensed veterinarians. They participate in clinical clerkships and gain first-hand experience. During the fourth year, the internship may focus on certain specialties or participate in clinical rotations in veterinary medicine. For those individuals who wish to become certified in a specialty, the internship requirements are more intensive, and the internship period lasts three to four years after becoming licensed.
There are a number of education requirements to becoming an livestock veterinarian. First, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree, then veterinary school. This will allow you to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (V.M.D or D.V.M.). Preparation to be a livestock veterinarian can start in secondary school by taking a lot of math and science courses. In your undergraduate program, majoring in zoology may be the best preparation, as there are no equine veterinarian programs at the undergraduate level.
Although a bachelor’s degree is usually needed, some veterinary schools will admit students prior to them receiving their undergraduate degree. Undergraduate coursework includes:
Getting into veterinary school is very competitive, as there are not enough programs to accommodate the influx of students getting into the field. To get into veterinary school, you must take the VCAT (Veterinary College Admission Test).
Veterinary school is usually four years, with two in the classroom learning foundational knowledge and biomedical sciences. The last two years are reserved for clinical practice.
Every state has specific requirements to become licensed. There must be proof of completion from a veterinary school and passage of the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Specializations in certain areas are also available. These specialties are approved after a three to four year residency program. The veterinarian is then eligible to apply for board certification in each specialty.
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