When considering any major life decision, turning to the tried-and-true pro versus con list is always helpful. Deciding whether to pursue a career as a veterinarian is no exception.

Let’s explore some pros and cons of working in the veterinary industry together.

Pros of Being a Veterinarian

You Can Make a Difference

Making a difference is such a profound benefit of becoming a veterinarian that it should hold serious weight on your pro-con list. It’s why so many people enter the profession in the first place. A job that provides meaning and satisfaction enriches your life and those around you. So, just how would you make a difference?

  • Improving animal health: As a veterinarian, you will directly impact the lives of animals by diagnosing and treating various health issues. You will alleviate suffering, extend the lives of many animals, and enhance their overall quality of life.
  • Advocating for animal welfare: Many DVMs and veterinary technicians are at the forefront of advocacy for animal rights and welfare. As a highly skilled animal lover, you can work with various organizations, policymakers, and your community to promote laws and ethical practices that protect animals.
  • Strengthening the bond between pets and their owners: The bond between pets and their owners is profound, and veterinarians play a crucial role in nurturing this relationship through health and illness. You have the ability to heal a beloved pet and return it to its family. This has a lasting emotional impact on you as the veterinarian and the pet owners, creating a sense of deep fulfillment.

The role of a veterinarian transcends the boundaries of mere animal care. When you become a veterinarian, you are uniquely positioned to make a tangible, positive difference in the world.

Salary Upsides

Choosing a stable and lucrative career path (especially in today’s economy) is incredibly important. As a veterinarian, you will earn a competitive salary, especially as you gain experience, specialize in a particular field, and take on roles in higher-demand areas.

The salary is especially attractive because it mirrors job satisfaction. You are not just punching a clock to earn a paycheck. Instead, you have spent countless hours developing your skills and are deeply dedicated to providing excellent veterinary care. This enhances job satisfaction, knowing that your financial rewards correspond with the commitment and impact you make in the profession.

An Abundance of Opportunities Across the U.S

With the increase in pet ownership and the growing awareness of animal health, the demand for veterinary services is on the rise. What does this mean for you considering the profession?

  • You will have the option to live wherever you want. Whether you prefer to live in the heart of the city, in the suburbs, or out in the country, your veterinary expertise is needed.
  • You will also have plenty of opportunities to work in different settings, from private practices to animal hospitals, zoos to wildlife centers, research institutions to government agencies.
  • You can choose to specialize in an area that interests you. With a wide range of job opportunities, you could specialize in a certain type of animal (like cats, dogs, exotic pets, or livestock), a field of medicine (like surgery, dermatology, or oncology), or a particular type of work (like research or public health).
  • You will have a stable and long-lasting career. Even in recent economic downturns, the veterinary industry has shown resilience. This is particularly attractive if you are looking for a long-term career path.

You Can Open Your Own Practice

Do you dream of being your own boss? Opening a veterinary practice offers a blend of professional autonomy, financial potential, and personal fulfillment. As the practice owner, you set your own standards of care, choose the types of services you want to offer, and create a practice culture that reflects your vision and values. It’s deeply rewarding.

Owning your veterinary clinic also allows you the following benefits:

  • You build and maintain strong relationships with your clients and their animals.
  • You have greater control over your schedule and can set a better work-life balance.
  • It provides ample opportunity to use your creativity and develop your business management, marketing, and leadership skills.
  • Owning a practice enables you to play a vital role in your community. You provide essential services, participate in local events, and contribute to the overall health and welfare of your community’s pets and wildlife.

The path to practice ownership is not without its challenges, but the benefits of autonomy, financial reward, and a deep sense of personal fulfillment make it a compelling pro.

Versatile Nature of Being a Veterinarian

As a veterinarian, you will never have a dull day. Every hour will bring new challenges and cases, from routine check-ups to emergency surgeries. Whether a private practice, hospital, or zoo, the veterinarian’s office is inherently a diverse and engaging work environment.

The versatility of the job also extends to work arrangements. You can choose to be full-time, part-time, or locum (temporary), which offers flexibility and the ability to balance work with personal life.

Even more, as you progress in your career, your interests and goals will likely evolve. The industry’s versatility allows you to transition between different practices and specializations. You could even shift from clinical work to non-clinical work. All of this helps support long-term career satisfaction and adaptability.

Cons of Being a Veterinarian

Let’s now shift our attention to the challenges of being a veterinarian.

It Can be Emotionally Stressful

Caring for owners and their companion animals is an incredibly emotional job. You will form close bonds with the animals you treat, and it can be deeply distressing to deal with sick and injured animals you care about. It is also inevitable that you will have to deal with euthanasia. All of this can lead to compassion fatigue, a type of stress resulting from caring for those who are suffering.

Beyond caring for sick animals, it is also challenging to work with pet owners who are emotional, often lack pet healthcare, and have high expectations. Navigating the emotional landscape of pet owners, especially during critical situations, requires delicate communication skills.

That’s why at AmeriVet, we prioritize the wellbeing of our veterinarians. We have a strong support system of mentorship, provide access to professional mental health services, and regularly discuss and implement healthy coping strategies. We recognize the emotional toll of the job and provide genuine support to help address it.

It Takes a Long Time to Become a Veterinarian

Becoming a vet requires a significant investment in your education. To become a veterinarian, you typically need a 4-year undergraduate degree in an aspect of veterinary science. You will then need a 4-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program and to complete a residency.

The extended length of vet school delays entry into the workforce, which can be a significant drawback. It is an opportunity cost. You forego potential earnings and professional experience in other fields during the many years of education and training. Such extended schooling can also affect personal life choices, such as starting a family or pursuing other interests.

Being a Veterinarian is Physically Demanding

We’re not going to lie: You will be on your feet most of the day. And even after hours, you are often on call. Emergency cases will require you to work long, unpredictable hours, including nights, weekends, and even holidays.

The work also involves handling both small animals and large animals. You and the vet tech will have to restrain animals, lift them onto operating tables, and perform surgeries, all of which require physical effort.

The physical demands of the job can contribute to a decreased career span. Veterinarians may find it challenging to continue working in such a physically demanding role as they age. It’s why some veterinarians retire early or make a career change later in life.

Veterinary School is Expensive

Veterinary education is notoriously expensive, with students often accruing significant debt from tuition, fees, equipment, and living expenses. Early in your career, you may be financially vulnerable due to your debt-to-income ratio.

Thankfully, Amerivet offers new graduates significant help in repaying student loans. We want to alleviate the financial burden of veterinary school and set you up to be financially successful in the industry.

Difficulties and Challenges Do Arise

It is no secret that the veterinary profession is challenging. Emotional stress, long hours, and high workloads can lead to professional burnout. This then affects your health, the quality of care you can provide, your professional relationships, and your job satisfaction.

Thankfully, people inside and outside the industry are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges veterinarians face. Support networks are being established to improve work-life balance, enhance mental health, and foster supportive professional communities. AmeriVet practices are at the forefront of such change.

So, Is Being a Veterinarian Worth It?

It’s the million-dollar question, yet no one can answer it except you. It all depends on your priorities, values, and resilience.

Do you have a passion for animal care, a strong work ethic, and the emotional fortitude to handle the highs and lows of the job? Becoming a veterinarian will likely be an exceptionally rewarding career for you.

The satisfaction of healing animals and the gratitude of their owners outweigh the challenges for many veterinarians. But with anything, it’s important to enter the field with a clear understanding of both the financial and emotional investments required.

Contact AmeriVet today and explore how a career in the veterinary industry might be the perfect fit for you.