Duties and responsibilities
Companion Animal Practitioners are vets that work only with ‘companion’ animals. These are your typical pets, such as cats, dogs, hamsters and rabbits! The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that about 75 percent of veterinarians work mostly or exclusively with companion animals. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Examining companion animals to assess their health and diagnose problems
- Treating and dressing wounds
- Performing surgery
- Vaccinating animals against diseases
- Operating medical equipment (e.g., x-ray machines)
- Advising owners about general care of their pets
- Referring to specialists if necessary
- Informing owners on medical conditions and treatments
- Prescribing medication
- Euthanizing animals where necessary
To become any type of vet, you must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. This four year program includes three years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work followed by one year of clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital.
Skills and relevant work experience
- Communication skills, as companion-animal veterinarians must be able to communicate effectively with other members of the veterinary team and with the owners of the animals they are treating
- Detail-orientation, as veterinarians must pay exceptional attention to detail in order to spot what is wrong with an animal.
- Dexterity, as veterinarians must be able to control their hand movement and be precise when treating injuries
- Compassion, as companion-animal veterinarians will need to be respectful and professional when dealing with the owners of animals
Most veterinarians work full time, often working more than 40 hours per week. Some work nights or weekends, and they may have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for veterinarians was $95,4600 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $58,080 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $160,780. Specifically, those who work for veterinary services earn a median annual salary of $95,500).
Some veterinarians are happy working in practices owned by others. They may progress to become in charge of a team of other veterinarians and/or veterinarian assistants. In some cases, with lots of experience and knowledge, vets may progress to owning their own veterinary practice.