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What Opportunites for Advancement Exist for Veterinarians?

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Once you have your veterinary degree, you can look forward to working in an established practice with opportunities to move into private practice. With continuing education, you can advance your career by becoming a specialist. Additionally, you can work for the government or become a researcher.

Private practice

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most vets begin their employment in an established group practice. This way, you can begin to build your credentials and gather a client base. Most vets generally move on to their own private practice after several years or when financially feasible. To open your own private practice, you will need to invest in equipment, office space, and staff. Advertising and marketing are also key ways to expand your client base.

Government opportunities

An experienced vet can also work for the government as a public health veterinarian. They work for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and are trained in public health and regulatory medicine. The majority of these vets work in meat and poultry plants and enforce federal regulations. They supervise slaughter of animals as well as ensure that the transport and distribution of the meat meets federal code.

According to the FSIS, some of these vets work as epidemiologists, pathologists, auditors, risk analysts, and biosecurity experts. They also inspect state programs, design new inspection systems, and investigate outbreaks of food-borne illness.

Vets who are employed by the government can work as researchers and advise industry and professional groups about the importance of food safety and meat processing.

Some vets may find work in Homeland Security, preventing animal diseases and maintaining the food supply in the United States.

Continuing education

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states have continuing education requirements for vets; these vary by state but will involve attending a class or demonstrating knowledge of recent medical techniques. There is also an opportunity for advancement for vets who gain knowledge in nontraditional services such as cancer treatment, preventative dental care, and healing therapies such as acupuncture and massage.


Based in Allentown, Penn., Lindy Speakman has been researching and writing health, fitness and nutrition articles for various publications since 2006. Her work has appeared in "Outpatient Surgery Magazine" and "Prevention Magazine." Speakman received her Masters of Arts in English from Kutztown University.

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