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Veterinarian

Veterinarians diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries in animals. They perform surgery and dentistry. They also provide preventive medical services. They offer advice about the care and breeding of animals. And they provide information on food safety and security and public health.

  • Avg. Salary $100,080.00
  • Avg. Wage $52.10
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Animal Doctor, Associates, Behaviorists, Critical Care Internists, Dermatologists, Doctor, Epidemiologists, Radiologists, Surgeons

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Veterinarians (3114) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Veterinarians (D014) 
  • 2011 NOC: Veterinarians (3114) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

44%
44%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Veterinarian is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Veterinarians
INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to diagnose and treat sick and injured animals, and to prescribe medications; may conduct veterinary research, co-ordinate the operations of animal hospitals, clinics and mobile services to farms, and may enforce government regulations in disease control and food production including animal and animal-based food inspection

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working with scientific instruments and medical equipment to diagnose diseases and perform surgery

social

Interest in mentoring by treating sick and injured animals, by advising clients on proper care of animals and by providing euthanasia services

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Veterinarians (vets) provide animal health and welfare services. They are also involved in food safety, public health, and environmental management. In general, they:

  • perform routine, emergency, and post-mortem exams
  • diagnose diseases
  • provide advice about preventive health care and herd health
  • vaccinate animals against infectious diseases
  • treat a wide range of injuries and disease
  • perform dental work on various species
  • perform surgery on animals
  • provide obstetrical and embryo transfer services
  • keep records of sick animals
  • provide humane euthanasia services.

Diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries, and other conditions often involves:

  • collecting, examining, and studying samples including:
    • body tissue
    • feces
    • blood
    • urine
    • other body fluids
  • taking and reading x-rays
  • giving anesthesia and performing exploratory surgery
  • doing ultrasounds
  • performing endoscopies
  • doing contract studies.

Preventive medical services include:

  • parasite control programs
  • vaccinations against common viral and bacterial diseases
  • routine exams
  • advice about hygiene, nutrition, and general care and breeding of animals
  • quality assurance programs for food animal species
  • routine blood work
  • routine dentistry.

Some veterinarians provide services for a wide range of animals. Others restrict their practices to specific types of animals. These may include:

  • food-producing animals (beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, or fish)
  • domestic pets and small animals
  • exotic birds and animals
  • wildlife and alternative livestock
  • horses
  • aquatic species.

Some vets specialize in a medical discipline such as:

  • reproduction
  • surgery
  • oncology
  • dentistry
  • anesthesiology
  • dermatology
  • diagnostic imaging
  • cardiology
  • pathology.

Veterinarians who work with large animals may focus their practice on herd health. In this area, herd management, monitoring, and regulatory medicine are important.

Vets with private practices are small business owners. They must manage human resources, finances, and inventory and market the business.

Some vets become representatives for food or drug companies. They promote certain products or practices.

Salaried veterinarians may provide a wide range of services. These include wildlife conservation, public health, food safety, agriculture development, disease surveillance, or animal welfare services. Salaried vets working in private practice are referred to as associates.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

The work can be physically demanding. Veterinarians are on their feet all day. Surgery can involve standing stationary for long periods of time. Some have mobile clinics for treating animals in barns or open fields.

The work can be emotionally draining.

Job hazards include:

  • contact with potentially dangerous animals
  • exposure to radiation, biohazardous substances, waste, and anesthetics
  • exposure to diseases that may be transferred to humans.

Many types of veterinary practice require after-hours emergency work.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Veterinarians need to possess:

  • confidence in working with animals
  • a strong commitment to public health and food safety
  • stamina and strength
  • observational skills and good judgment
  • listening and speaking skills
  • people skills
  • the ability to work well in a team setting
  • a willingness to keep current in the fields of veterinary medicine and business.

They should enjoy:

  • spending time with animals
  • working outdoors
  • working on their own and with the public
  • helping others
  • making quick decisions under pressure
  • career-long learning
  • practising medicine.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Prospective veterinarians must complete at least 2 years of university studies. This must be followed by a 4-year doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) program. They must then pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). It is administered in the fourth year of the DVM program. Most applicants for DVM programs have completed more than 2 years of university studies. They have most often studied in a related faculty such as science or agriculture. Suitable pre-veterinary medicine programs are offered by post-secondary schools throughout Alberta.

After graduating from veterinary medicine, vets may choose to specialize in an area. Each specialty area requires more schooling and qualifying exams.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

University of Calgary


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Alberta has an interprovincial quota system agreement with Saskatchewan. This requires the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to accept 20 Alberta students annually. Applicants must have completed at least 2 years of full-time post-secondary instruction at a recognized college or university. They must also complete an interview.

Elsewhere in Canada, the following post-secondary schools offer DVM degree programs. However, applicants must be residents of the province for at least 1 year prior to applying:

Post-secondary schools throughout Alberta offer university transfer programs. These allow students to apply up to 2 years of study toward university bachelor’s degree programs. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the courses they choose will be accepted for credit at the school to which they wish to transfer.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Veterinarian

Veterinarians diagnose animal illnesses, treat diseased and injured animals, perform surgery and dentistry, provide preventive medical services and provide advice regarding the care and breeding of animals, food safety and security and public health.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Veterinary Profession Act and General Regulation, only registered veterinary members of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) may call themselves or practice as Veterinarians. However, animal health technologists may provide veterinary services under the supervision of a Registered Veterinarian.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) an approved Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program and (2) the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). Graduates from non-accredited universities must complete a Basic Clinical Skills Exam, Clinical Competency Exam and the NAVLE. All applicants require a Certificate of Qualification from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ABVMA website or contact ABVMA.

Working in Alberta

Veterinarians who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered veterinarians in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated veterinarians, see Veterinarian Licensing Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
Building #3, Elm Business Park
Suite 104, 9452-51 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta 
Canada  T6E 5A6
Phone number: 780-489-5007
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-404-2862
Fax number: 780-484-8311
Website: www.abvma.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Some vets establish their own practices. Most find employment as associates or partners in established practices.

Vets who do not choose private or clinical practice may work as:

  • agricultural commodity inspectors (see the Agricultural Commodity Inspector occupational profile)
  • food hygienists
  • animal disease researchers
  • pharmaceutical company reps
  • administrators of veterinary public health programs
  • race horse inspectors at racetracks
  • teachers at veterinary colleges
  • animal health or public health researchers
  • clinical veterinarians for lab or zoo animals.

Some vets work for government agencies. They may advance in grade and salary as they gain experience.

In Alberta, 87% of veterinarians work in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018
Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $32.93 $48.08 $39.03 $38.00
Overall $33.46 $109.19 $52.10 $45.00
Top $38.46 $212.80 $72.08 $55.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

72%
72%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

44%
44%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

7%
7%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) website: www.abvma.ca

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) websites: www.canadianveterinarians.net

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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