Veterinarian Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Veterinarian, or Vet, is an animal doctor that is responsible for diagnosing and treating animals who are sick, injured or need routine care. Their duties include giving advice to humans on how to properly care for their pets, administering medication and performing surgery on animals.

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Veterinarian duties and responsibilities

A quality Veterinarian should be able to perform various duties and responsibilities. Including this category in your Veterinarian job description will help you attract a capable candidate to your practice. The following are important duties and responsibilities a Veterinarian should be able to execute:

  • Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, dressing wounds, performing surgery and setting bones
  • Educate the public about diseases and infections that are transferable from animals to humans 
  • Promote the health and wellness of animals by advising animal owners about sanitation measures, feeding and general care
  • Record actions by documenting and updating forms, reports, animal records and reporting diseases to public health officials
  • Ensure compliance with veterinary procedures, ethics, policies and relevant statutes
  • Operate diagnostic equipment like ultrasound and radiography machines and interpret the resulting images
  • Establish or carry out quarantine or testing procedures that combat the spread of diseases to humans or to other animals according to established government regulations
  • Euthanize animals in situations they see fit such as in the case of a terminal illness
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What does a Veterinarian do?

Veterinarians typically work at animal hospitals and clinics but may also work as a staff Veterinarian at a zoo, ranch, farm, stable, aquarium or laboratory to provide routine animal care. They are experts in diseases that impact animals and use their knowledge of animal anatomy to identify and correct health issues. Veterinarians develop care plans for animals and teach pet owners how to help their animal recover. They order lab tests, assist in births, perform dental cleanings and tooth extractions, stitch up wounds and cure infections among other procedures. Veterinarians may also perform humane euthanizations and comfort grieving pet owners.

Veterinarian skills and qualifications

A competent Veterinarian will have certain skills and qualifications. Having this section in your job description helps you attract skilled and qualified applicants to your practice. Here are some skills and qualifications to look out for in your candidate:

  • Ability to show compassion to both pets and their owners
  • Outstanding dexterity in handling both large and small animals while performing precise tasks
  • Ability to react quickly and make decisions under pressure about the wellbeing of an animal
  • Strong fondness and understanding of animals
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of animal behavior
  • Ability to work extended hours and on-demand
  • Ability to use medical technologies during diagnosis, research and surgery of animals

Veterinarian salary expectations

A Veterinarian makes an average of $96,199 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Veterinarian education and training requirements

A successful Veterinarian should have attained certain education and training requirements. Looking out for these requirements will help you attract a knowledgeable and trained Veterinarian. Before joining veterinary school, an individual may have a pre-veterinary degree such as a bachelor’s degree in biology, physiology, statistics, chemistry, genetics or physics. Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. A Veterinarian should obtain a state license after successfully passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

Veterinarian experience requirements

A Veterinarian should have experience working with Veterinarians, research, agribusiness, scientists in clinics and some fields of health science. They should also have previous work with animals in animal clinics. For freshly graduated Veterinarians, an internship may be useful for those looking to specialize. Less formal experience such as working with animals on a farm, at a stable or in an animal shelter can also be helpful prior to veterinary school. 

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Frequently asked questions about Veterinarians


What is the difference between a Veterinarian and a Zoologist?

While Veterinarians and Zoologists both work closely with animals, they have vastly different roles. Veterinarians address the medical care and wellbeing of animals while Zoologists mainly research animals and study their habits. Veterinarians tend to work mainly with domesticated animals, livestock and wild animals that live in captivity, while Zoologists study animals that live in their natural habitat away from humans. Zoologists rarely interact with animals directly, instead paying attention to how they interact with one another. Veterinarians may provide medical treatment to the same animals for their entire lives and form a relationship with the animals and their owners.


What are the daily duties of a Veterinarian?

On a typical day, Veterinarians might perform surgeries, examinations and routine care. They communicate with administrative staff and Veterinary Assistants to prepare their schedules for the day and gather the necessary paperwork for treatment. During an appointment, they talk to the animal’s owner about their symptoms and other relevant details. They might put the animal at ease by petting it or talking to it in a calming voice while looking for clues about what could be causing any issues before ordering x-rays and blood tests.  After an appointment, they authorize prescriptions and schedule any follow-up care.


What are the characteristics of a good Veterinarian?

Good Veterinarians are comfortable working in a fast-paced environment and thrive under pressure. Because they may have a high volume of animals that need urgent care, they should be great at making quick decisions and acting with confidence. They are intuitive and can understand what animals need through their observation skills because animals cannot explain what is causing them discomfort. Successful Veterinarians stay organized when multitasking and meticulously document their actions and observations in an animal’s file. They are also kind and compassionate when providing comfort and emotional support to distressed owners who are concerned about their animal’s wellbeing.


What are the different types of Veterinarians?

Veterinarians can choose to perform general care for all kinds of animals, or they can specialize in a particular species or type of care. While most Veterinarians care for pets, some Veterinarians care for animals being raised for their meat to provide them with a humane life and prevent any diseases. Some of the specialized types of Veterinarians include Equine Veterinarians, Exotic Animal Veterinarians, Emergency Veterinarians, Veterinary Nutritionists and Small Animal Veterinarians that care for guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, birds, snakes and lizards.

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