To forge a career in animal medicine takes more than just a liking toward animals, it also requires an understanding of many sciences and how they relate to animals, as well as the ability to set aside feelings to address issues as they arise. For example, for those who weep at the sight of a wounded animal, this career path is most likely not the right course for you. Jobs in animal medicine also tend to be very hands on, so people who don't like to touch animals or get their hands dirty might consider one of the many other animal-related career options available.
Most veterinarians, alternative medicine veterinarians, zookeepers, veterinarian technicians, wildlife rehabilitators, animal behaviorists and pet therapists possess some sort of background education in and passion for science, as well as specialized schooling. In the case of veterinarians, they must attend one of the close to 30 schools in the United States that meet accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These schools require a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year college as a prerequisite, as well as the passing of one of the standardized tests often required for specialized medical schools. After receiving a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D. V. M. or V. M. D. ), they also must acquire a license to practice in the state they wish to work.
While veterinarian technicians may not have as much schooling to get through as veterinarians, they still play critical roles in animal care working under the guidance of licensed veterinarians to perform vital tasks. They also must attend special schools, in this case one that offers a veterinary technician program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The path to becoming a technician also requires clinical, hands-on experience in the form of an externship, preceptorship or practicum. Most states also require veterinary technicians to take and pass the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners test, and they may also sometimes be required to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination.
Alternative medicine veterinarians focus on holistic medicine, but their educational background starts off much the same as that of garden-variety veterinarians. Where they differ is in the study of herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy, and even veterinary chiropractic care. These sub-specialties are all studied extensively before being practiced, and most alternative medicine veterinarians are also members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association and certified through the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.
Research veterinarians can often be found in the classroom setting, sometimes even teaching those studying the field of veterinary medicine. Where research veterinarians differ is that they focus not only on animal but also on human health problems. Biomedical research is another career path for research veterinarians.
Wildlife rehabilitation is an option for those interested in animal medicine, as it blends biology and animal anatomy in a real world setting. Although most wildlife rehabilitators aren't veterinarians, they often work side by side with veterinarians to chart a course of treatment and help with animal trauma recovery. Most wildlife rehabilitators belong to the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and they are required to be licensed in the state in which they work, a license that is specific to the animals found in that state only.
Often looked at as the psychologists of the animal world, animal behaviorists focus on what animals think and feel, observing animal physiology and behavior to make assumptions about said animals and their specific behaviors in certain situations. Animal behaviorists need extensive education in animal studies, including biology and anatomy, as well as research experience. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for an animal behaviorist, with a concentration in biology, microbiology or ecology. Some also belong to the Animal Behavior Society and are certified through them in applied animal behavior. (Sometimes, veterinarians choose to specialize in animal behavior, which requires a veterinarian degree, a two-year residency under the supervision of a veterinary behaviorist, and the passing of an exam to become an American College of Veterinary Behavior, board certified veterinary behaviorist.
Animal physical therapy is another career option, as it combines chiropractic care and physical therapy to help animals recovery from injury or illness, as well as managing chronic conditions. Animal physical therapists are typically certified in canine rehabilitation, or else study for and become licensed physical therapists specializing in the treatment of animals. This career requires a master's degree in physical therapy with an emphasis on animals. You must also pass a state licensing exam to practice physical therapy.
If you're looking for a career in animal medicine, there are plenty of options. Most require years of schooling, but all are definitely rewarding career paths.
If you're passionate about animals then consider getting job where you're caring for them. Working with animals in a professional capacity often requires a college degree, but some just take dedication and perseverance. Lisa Jenkins, a freelance writer for JobMonkey.com, offers helpful information for anyone wanting to pursue veterinarian jobs , animal behaviorist jobs or animal rescue jobs. Learn how to get your foot in the door.