Veterinarians must earn a Doctor of Veterinary degree and pass a state exam to practice veterinary medicine. Some veterinary degree programs require students to have a bachelor's degree and prior experience in conducting animal research or working for a veterinarian or animal scientist.
Before applying to a veterinary degree program, students should complete college-level coursework in anatomy, biology, zoology, physiology, chemistry and math to adequately prepare. Most veterinary medicine programs take four years to complete. During this time, students learn about animal behavior, how to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions and how to provide preventative care. The first three years of the program involve classroom and research projects. Students typically have to complete an internship at an animal hospital or clinic during their fourth year. Some programs also require students to complete coursework in business management and finance.
All states require veterinary students to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Some states require students to pass additional exams concerning animal health and business law unique to that particular state. Veterinary licenses are not transferable between states. Veterinarians who want to practice in a state different from where they first earned their license have to pass that state's exam.