12 Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinarian

Updated March 10, 2023

Person with a badge around their neck pets dog on left and bunny sits in front

If you have a passion for animals, you might consider becoming a veterinarian. These professionals study for several years to learn how to care for various species and communicate with pet owners. Understanding the potential advantages and disadvantages of pursuing this career can help you determine if it's right for you.

In this article, we discuss six pros and six cons of being a veterinarian.

6 pros of being a veterinarian

Here are six pros of being a veterinarian:

1. High earning potential

A compelling reason to become a veterinarian is the high earning potential. The average national salary is $120,529 per year, which allows many of these professionals to pay off student debt while living a comfortable lifestyle. You can earn even more if you live in certain areas or specialize in a particular field, and your level of experience, education and employer may also affect your potential salary.

Related: FAQ: What Are the Top-Paying States for a Veterinarian?

2. Positive job outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 19% increase in veterinarian employment from 2021 to 2031. This positive job outlook assures veterinary students that they can find jobs after graduation. Many of these professionals work in independent clinics that care for domestic pets, but other opportunities are available at zoos, aquariums, government hospitals and poultry farms.

Related: Marine Veterinarian: Definition and How To Become One

3. Good work-life balance

Veterinarians typically have a good work-life balance, as many practices operate during normal business hours. Standard 40-hour workweeks allow them to spend the evenings and weekends with loved ones. Veterinarians may also pursue jobs with irregular schedules if they prefer these types of hours. For instance, a position at an emergency clinic would allow you to work nights and weekends.

Related: FAQ: What Are the Work Hours of Veterinarians?

4. Opportunity to open your own practice

Some veterinarians decide to open their own practices because of the increased earning potential and freedom to create their schedules. This entrepreneurial endeavor also allows you to develop skills like management, budgeting and marketing. Other responsibilities that tend to be rewarding include training new employees and developing relationships with clients.

5. Daily variety

Many veterinarians appreciate the daily variety that their profession offers. They see many different clients in one day and perform several procedures. For instance, they might complete an ovariohysterectomy on a dog after performing a routine checkup for a cat. They also communicate with patients, collaborate with office staff and complete paperwork. A veterinarian may even have the opportunity to travel if it's easier to treat clients at an off-site location.

6. Rewarding work

One of the most popular reasons people become veterinarians is because of the rewarding work. It's fulfilling to use your analytical skills and medical knowledge to recommend the appropriate medications and procedures. With your treatment plans and approach to preventative care, pets can have healthy and comfortable lives. Your job also allows you to console owners who are worried about their pets. If you work in an organization like a zoo, you can use your skills to rehabilitate injured animals and return them to their natural habitats.

Related: 15 Well-Paying Jobs for Animal Lovers in 2022

6 cons of being a veterinarian

Here are six potential cons of being a veterinarian:

1. Rigorous education requirements

You might hesitate to become a veterinarian because of the rigorous education requirements. After earning a four-year undergraduate degree, students pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree that takes an additional four years to complete. Students also complete post-graduation internships, obtain licenses and pursue optional certifications to specialize in fields like surgery or toxicology. These qualifications require you to complete many advanced science courses, but they're attainable with a good work ethic and consistent study habits. It's also helpful to remember that the rigorous requirements prepare you to offer the best care possible.

Related: How To Write a Veterinary Student Resume (With Example)

2. Cost of veterinary school

Veterinary school can cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars, but it's often worth it as it leads to a high-paying career. You can make veterinary school more affordable by getting good grades during your undergraduate studies. These credentials can help you qualify for scholarships and grants. Additionally, consider applying for loans and attending an in-state school to lower tuition costs.

3. Emotional challenges

Veterinarians can experience many emotional challenges, as they consistently see sick and injured animals. They also communicate with distraught pet owners and help them cope with challenging decisions like euthanasia. High emotional intelligence can help you show compassion while ensuring your emotions don't interfere with your work. You can also promote good mental health by meditating, eating well and exercising.

4. Allergy concerns

Animal fur can trigger sneezing, breathing problems or itchy skin in some people. If you experience these symptoms around cats and dogs, you may be uncomfortable working in a clinic. Fortunately, many people find relief through over-the-counter medications or treatment via an allergy specialist. You can also choose a different work environment. For instance, a marine veterinarian works with fish that are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

5. Physically demanding

Though many veterinarians work indoors, their jobs can be physically demanding. For instance, they restrain large animals and lift them onto examination tables. They also spend many hours standing and walking around. This activity can leave you tired at the end of the day, but you can increase your stamina through regular stretching and exercise. Additionally, it helps to appreciate that the job allows you to be active instead of requiring you to sit at a desk all day.

Related: All About a Zoo Veterinarian Career (With Salary)

6. Job hazards

Bites from aggressive animals can put veterinarians at risk of injury and infection. They also may encounter exposure to waste anesthetic gases, ionizing radiation and airborne contaminants. While these job hazards are important to recognize, proper training reduces the chance of harm. For instance, veterinarians who use the proper restraining techniques can prevent injuries while caring for aggressive animals. These professionals also benefit from knowing how to use medical equipment and safety gear.

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