Be Ready for a Highly Competitive Application Process
Veterinary medicine programs typically take 4 years to complete.
Veterinary programs are highly competitive.
Should You Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree?
While a bachelor’s degree isn’t required before applying to veterinary programs, most applicants pursue one anyway.
A bachelor’s degree gives candidates an advantage since veterinary programs expect students to complete prerequisite courses.
These courses usually include anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, and animal science. Aspiring Veterinarians should always look into their prospective veterinary school’s requirements when planning their undergraduate class schedules.
What Licensing Will You Need?
All Veterinarians need to obtain a state license before practicing.
Residencies typically last three to four years and offer critical field experience and networking opportunities with potential employers.
Zoo Veterinarians are mostly responsible for preventative care.
They conduct regular examinations on animals to ensure health. They also thoroughly examine incoming additions to the zoo family to uphold compliance with government regulations.
When an animal is ill or injured, a Zoo Veterinarian provides immediate assistance to treat that animal and inhibit the spreading of disease. When an animal dies, it is the Veterinarian who performs the postmortem study to evaluate the cause of death.
There is a vast array of exotic animals at the zoo, so the Veterinarian will need to train other zoo staff on how to properly handle and care for each species.
Since conserving endangered animal species is a top priority for zoos, the Veterinarian carefully oversees the nutrition and reproduction of all animals.
Can You Handle Working Irregular Hours?
Zoo Veterinarians have a busy, unpredictable work schedule to adhere to.
Predictably, they are compassionate people. It is this compassion that allows them to comfort frightened animals and adequately care for them.
Zoo Veterinarians also show incredible perseverance. Completing nearly a decade’s worth of education, internships, and residencies takes an uncanny amount of dedication. Their inquisitiveness pushes them to critically study different species and absorb a wealth of knowledge on each animal.
Zoo Veterinarians are open-minded individuals and they have great decision-making capabilities.
They’re able to think of different approaches to solving an issue before deciding upon the best possible solution. If the solution is surgery, Zoo Veterinarians employ the dexterity needed to control a scalpel.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that Veterinarians risk being injured while working with frightened or wounded animals. Working with large elephants and dangerous cats can be daunting, but Zoo Veterinarians possess the fearlessness needed to execute such intimidating work.
Zoo Veterinarians also use their strong management and communications skills to lead teams and collaborate with other zoo employees.
Certifications & Proficiency
Certification is not necessary, but is very helpful in this highly competitive field.
To meet the eligibility requirements for the ACZM boards, candidates must have graduated from an accredited veterinary program, attained a license to practice, and have published at least five publications in the field of zoological medicine.
Additionally, candidates must complete at least three years of professional training or six years of work in zoological medicine, after veterinary school.
Once candidates meet these requirements and pass the ACZM exam, they’ll be board certified, which presents an incredible advantage in being hired.
How Does a Zoo Veterinarian Find Work?
Internships and residency programs allow aspiring Zoo Veterinarians to make connections and network with potential employers.
Generic job search tools also provide plenty of applicable job posts.
However, the best way to find a job as a Zoo Veterinarian is through joining professional affiliations.
There are several professional affiliations that provide exhaustive job databases.
Zoo Veterinarian salaries, more specifically, vary by location and are dependent on the experience level of the individual.
How to Increase Your Salary
There are a few ways to increase one’s chances of reaching the higher end of the salary range.
One primary tip is to become board certified. Zoo Veterinarians who spend the extra years becoming certified earn higher salaries and can skip associate positions to move on to being a full-fledged Zoo Veterinarians.
Another great tip is to look for work at zoos located in metropolitan areas. According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, zoos located in metropolitan areas are often capable of offering higher salaries to their employees.
Zoo Veterinarian Job Growth & Outlook
The employment of Veterinarians is projected to grow 19% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average occupation.
Oversees entire veterinary staff. Duties include managing the care of all zoo animals, training staff, and preparing budgets. Chief Zoo Veterinarians must have a DVM degree, board certification, and license to practice. They also need to have three to five years of clinical and field experience in an accredited facility. Zoo Veterinarians who have critical managerial and communications skills are better suited for this position. Average salaries vary by location and experience, including $134,488 at a Los Angeles zoo.
Conducts medical examinations on all animals, implements preventative care measures, and provides treatments. Zoo Veterinarians require a DVM degree, a license to practice, and two to five years clinical and field experience. Compassionate, experienced, and dexterous individuals are suited for the position. Average salaries vary, with a high of $108,304.
Assists Zoo Veterinarians with animal examinations, medical records, and the maintenance of hospital facilities. Associate Veterinarians must have a DVM degree, a valid license to practice, and a minimum of one-year clinical medicine experience. Candidates with similar personalities and skill-sets as Zoo Veterinarians are perfect for the job.
Assists supervisor, usually the Zoo Veterinarian, and learns from hands-on experience. Veterinary Residents require a DVM degree and plenty of internship experience. Like Veterinarians, Veterinary Residents must be compassionate, patient and fearless when handling exotic animals. The average salary for a Veterinary Resident is $60,578.