Veterinary medicine programs require students to study courses on animal anatomy, physiology, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The four-year program breaks down to three years of classroom study, laboratory training and clinical work, with the fourth year spent in residency training at a veterinary medical center or a veterinary hospital.
Many veterinary schools include general business management and career development classes in the curriculum so that new veterinarians have the knowledge and skills to run a successful private practice. To be licensed, veterinarians must complete their degree at a recognized school of veterinary medicine. As of 2012, there were 29 accredited colleges offering veterinary medicine in the United States. Though all states require veterinarians to pass the national North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, a state license is not always necessary to work for a state or federal agency.
Veterinarians diagnose symptoms and treat diseases of house pets, farm animals and other animals. They also perform research into animal health and by doing so help improve public health. As of May 2012, the median salary for veterinarians was $84,460 with job prospects projected to grow by 12 percent from 2012 to 2022. Because competition for available positions is expected to be strong, certification by the American Veterinary Medical Association in any of its 40 specialties such as surgery, microbiology or internal medicine greatly improves job prospects.