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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.

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Veterinarians (3114) 
  • 2021 NOC: Veterinarians (31103) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Veterinarians

2006 NOC: 3114

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

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.

Traits & Skills
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Veterinarians

2016 NOC: 3114

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 38 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Nov 28, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds or performing surgery
Diagnose diseases or abnormal conditions in individual animals, herds and flocks through physical examinations or laboratory tests
Perform routine, emergency and post-mortem examinations
Advise clients on feeding, housing, behaviour, breeding, hygiene and general care of animals
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Vaccinate animals to prevent and treat diseases
Provide a range of veterinary services including obstetrics, dentistry and euthanasia
Tasks: Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds or performing surgery
Tasks: Vaccinate animals to prevent and treat diseases
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Additional Information

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
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Veterinarian.

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 3114: Veterinarians occupational group, 87.8% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 3114: Veterinarians occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 57 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Veterinarians

2016 NOC: 3114
Average Wage
$74.72
Per Hour
Average Salary
$126,081.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.8
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.4
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3114 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $24.29 $254.75 $59.22 $43.27
Overall $25.64 $269.73 $74.72 $55.38
Top $34.19 $292.21 $104.19 $75.62

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
71%
71%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
75%
75%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
39%
39%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

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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