How to Hire a Veterinarian
Hiring a Veterinarian
Whether your organization is a vet clinic, zoo, research lab, or other facility that handles animals, you need veterinarians to treat and care for them. However, finding and attracting top talent is difficult due to factors like the current veterinarian shortage and the fact that vets need a DVM and up-to-date licenses. The good news is that there are steps you can take and certain things to look for when hiring a veterinarian, which can make your search for the perfect candidate easier.
A veterinarian could be diagnosing illnesses, performing surgeries, and operating medical equipment at your practice, so you want to make sure you find a high-quality candidate. Their education and training is what sets them at the top of the veterinary hierarchy, and it will take a lot to sway them to your team. But it is doable.
- Doctorate Degree (32.0%)
- Bachelor's Degree (24.9%)
- High School or GED (17.6%)
- Associate's Degree (11.2%)
- Vocational Degree or Certification (7.0%)
- Master's Degree (3.9%)
- Some High School (1.8%)
- Some College (1.7%)
CertificationVeterinarians offer the following certifications
Qualifications / SkillsThe following top skills are often required or desired to land a Veterinarian position
Acupuncture, Animal Care, AVImark, Client Education, Client Services, Communication Skills, Critical Care, Dedication, Dental Prophylaxis, Dermatology
- 1-2 years (25.8%)
- None (19.4%)
- 4-6 years (16.6%)
- Less than 1 year (10.0%)
- 2-4 years (9.5%)
- 10+ years (8.2%)
- 6-8 years (7.1%)
- 8-10 years (3.4%)
Requirements for Veterinarians
The two credentials a veterinarian must have in order to practice are their Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and a state license following their successful completion of the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). Be sure to check with your state to determine the specifics of the required license. Without those two things, a veterinarian can’t work.
However, while those are the legal requirements, there is more to what makes a good veterinarian than just two documents. Because they’ll be managing patients, pet owners, and the vet techs and assistants at your clinic, they also need good communication, leadership, and people skills. They also need to be able to deduce what is wrong with an animal without being able to speak with it, which requires solid analytical skills.
Finally, in some cases, you may need a vet who has specialized in a certain field or animal to complete your team. These specialties include equine care, livestock, radiology, surgery, and zoological medicine, to name a few. A specialist requires further training and education, so if you’re hiring one, you can check this list from the American Veterinary Medical Association to learn more.
Take a look at the other skills and requirements for veterinarians on the included charts.
Veterinarian Salary Data
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median veterinarian salary is just above $100,000. That salary could increase or decrease depending on the location, specialty, or type of clinic you’re hiring for. Keep in mind though, you will likely have to offer above the average to stay competitive (or supplement salary with other unique benefits) and attract the best talent.
- United States
**Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
To see location-specific salary data, use our free Salary Research Tool.
Sample Veterinarian Job Description
Your job ad will be the first thing a prospective veterinarian candidate sees, so it’s vital that you make a good impression. You don’t want it to be a simple copy-and-paste of the job description; it needs to include aspects that make your clinic and the position exciting. Ask yourself why a vet would want to work at your practice instead of a different one and include that in the job ad. This could be your company culture, salary and benefits (see more on that below), or anything else that makes your workplace special.
Don’t forget the basics of a job ad, either. It should be skimmable (use bullets, short sentences, and a simple job title), keep it between 600-700 words, and communicate your fair hiring practices. Use the following sample veterinarian job ad to get you started, and feel free to customize it to fit your needs.
ABC Veterinary Clinic is looking for a skilled Veterinarian to join our practice and provide quality care to the lovable pets we look after. We are a close-knit team with a desire to help animals of all kinds. As a veterinarian, you will have the opportunity to diagnose, treat, and prevent health problems to ensure your patients live a healthy and happy life.
A Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and a license to practice from the state are required. A professional and compassionate attitude, as well as effective leadership and communication skills are keys to success in this role.
- Administering diagnostic tests
- Prescribing medications
- Performing surgeries for pets, livestock, and wildlife
- Operating medical equipment such as X-ray and ultrasound machines
- Interacting regularly with owners
- Educating owners on treatment plans
- Promoting animals’ and pets’ day-to-day wellness
Requirements and Qualifications
- Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine
- State License
- At least 1 year of experience in a veterinary setting (clinical rotation accepted)
- Ability to show compassion to both pets and their owners
- Ability to make decisions under pressure about the well-being of an animal
- Strong fondness and understanding of animals
- Good communication and leadership skills
- Knowledge of animal behavior
Compensation and Benefits to Include in Your Veterinarian Job Ad
To really attract top talent to your clinic, you should include a competitive salary and benefits package in your job ad. If you don’t have the budget to offer above-average salaries for your area, that’s ok; lean on desirable benefits instead. For veterinarians, that includes benefits to address burnout, like more flexible hours, additional PTO (or the ability to take “mental health” days), and access to mental health professionals or services.
Other attractive benefits for veterinarians include:
- Signing bonuses
- Student loan reimbursement
- Mentorship programs
Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring a Veterinarian
The interview portion of the hiring process allows you to determine if the candidate will be a good fit for your clinic. Feel free to ask specific questions about their veterinary knowledge, but remember that if they have their DVM, passed the NAVLE, and are licensed to practice, then they should have the basics covered. Make sure you focus on behavioral and situational questions to get the most out of the interview. These veterinarian interview questions are a good start:
- What breeds and types of animals are you experienced with caring for?
- What aspects of veterinary medicine do you find most challenging?
- What is the most difficult situation you've faced in veterinary medicine? How did you handle it?
- What actions would you take if there were signs that an animal you're treating is being abused?
- What would you do if a client brings in a healthy animal and wants to euthanize it because they no longer want the pet?
- How do you stay up to date on advances in veterinary medicine?
- How do you ensure that staff under your supervision follow veterinary practice protocols?
- Describe your approach to organizing and maintaining client files.
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