young veterinarian examining a beagle

How Long Does It Take to Become a Veterinarian?

The requirements to become a veterinarian may be more intensive than those required for other jobs, but the work is so worthwhile once you have your degree and can begin taking care of animals.

You may be wondering, though, “Exactly how long does it take to become a veterinarian?” The answer is that it depends on the degree program, residency requirements, and the specific type of veterinarian you want to be. 


The Lowdown on Veterinarians

You may have always wanted to work with animals ever since you were a kid, but knowing how to become a veterinarian may have been a different story. You may not even know how much schooling you will need, what kind of average veterinarian salary you can expect, or how long does it take to become a veterinarian. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians had a median pay of about $93,830 per year in 2018. This is the average veterinarian salary you can expect. It’s also necessary to know that you will need a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree after getting your undergraduate degree. Generally, the requirements to become a veterinarian are about 7 to 9 years of schooling and at least two degrees. In reality, though, it can sometimes take even longer.


two veterinary students examining a boston terrier


Requirements to Become a Veterinarian

You may think the question of how to become a veterinarian starts after high school, but it doesn’t. Preparation can start much earlier than this. The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences recommends taking the necessary steps to prepare for your career as a vet as early as middle and high school. Taking mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry courses will help lay a foundation of knowledge and allow you to prepare for college. In a way, you can consider this part of the process of how to become a veterinarian.

Afterward, you’ll want to choose an undergraduate degree program that complements your desire to become a vet. If you don’t, you might struggle in certain classes when you are in veterinary school or have to make up requirements to become a veterinarian down the road. Some degree programs that are suitable include biology, chemistry, and physical sciences.

Once you start your final semester, you’ll probably want to apply to veterinary school to avoid gaps in your schooling and quickly get your degree. Most students start veterinary school in the fall semester after graduation. Veterinary school almost always takes 4 years, and your choice of school, as well as your grades, your subject of focus, and other variables, could very well affect your prospects in the future, so work hard and choose wisely.


veterinary student studying anatomy


How Long Does It Take to Become a Veterinarian?

Before ever starting your career, you can begin thinking about becoming a vet as early as middle school. Then, once you’re ready to attend college, you should expect to be in your undergraduate classes for about 3 to 5 years, depending on your choice of school and your major. Finally, you should expect to be in veterinary school for about 4 years. This means the process of how to become a veterinarian can be as short as 7 years (or 4 if you’ve already finished your undergraduate degree) or as long as 14. It all depends on how early you begin the journey!


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Want to Learn More About Becoming a Veterinarian?

To learn more about the average veterinarian’s salary, what prospective employers are looking for, and how you can make your resume stand out, check out our career advice library and find open positions in your area. It may seem like a long way away now, but you’re on the road to becoming the professional veterinarian you’re meant to be!

By iHire | January 02, 2020
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