Duties and responsibilities
Veterinary surgeons are responsible for the surgical treatment of a range of animals. They will need an excellent knowledge of animal physiology and anatomy. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Taking x-rays and interpreting the results
- Knowing the laws surrounding animals and their welfare
- Conducting surgery on a range of different animals
- Neutering animals
- Putting old or ill animals to sleep
- Working on-call for emergency cases
To become any type of veterinarian, 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. Ideally, you will get some experience that focuses on surgery.
Skills and relevant work experience
- Communication skills, as veterinary surgeons must be able to communicate effectively with other members of the veterinary team and with the owners of the animals they are treating
- Dexterity, as veterinarians must be able to control their hand movement and be precise when treating injuries
- Compassion, as veterinarians will need to be respectful and professional when dealing with the owners of animal
- Ability to remain calm, as emergencies happen all the time and vertinerary surgeons must be able to work well under pressure to resolve the issue
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.
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.