Is a Veterinary Science Degree Right for You?
A bachelor’s degree in veterinary science is ideal for animal lovers who would like to one day diagnose and treat domestic, exotic, and wildlife animals. Students will learn all about the anatomy of various animals, common animal diseases, nutrition, and other topics related to animal care. While a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science is more of a stepping stone for those who want to enroll in a U.S. veterinary school, it’s still an ideal program to pursue for aspiring veterinary technicians or technologists. Vet techs work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian when running diagnostic tests and treating injured animals. Employment prospects for vet techs should be good since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 52 % increase in jobs within the next decade. Although wages will vary on experience, location, and education, veterinary technician bachelor’s degree holders typically earn $29,000 a year, the Bureau reports.
Advice for Earning Your Veterinary Science Degree Online
Those pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or a vet tech bachelor degree online should look for proper accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This proves that the program has met a select standard of merit and is legitimate. Even if the program is accredited, students should also make sure the program isn’t exclusively online. It greatly benefits students to earn some hands-on experience working with animals through an internship or as a component of regular coursework. Do some research to see if the program is offered in a hybrid format to get a more well-rounded educational experience.
Most courses will relate to medicine, science, and animal care. Although titles may vary, students can expect to any of the following courses: Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals, Veterinary Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Pathophysiology of Disease, among others. Students will also take a handful of technology and communication courses that focus on the use of modern technology to diagnose animals, as well as how to effectively talk with pet owners and other clients.
Common Career Paths
Although the more popular career choice is becoming a vet tech or a vet technologist, it’s not the only avenue one can pursue with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science. There are other options to consider, a few of which are listed below:
Animal Husbandry Specialist
An animal husbandry specialist is essentially responsible for breeding and taking care of animals, whether that’s on a farm or ranch, animal clinic, or in a research laboratory. While some animal husbandry specialists teach pet owners the best practices for caring for their animals, most are typically more involved with an animal’s life cycle. For example, most concentrate on assisting animals during birth, some focus on creating new/specific breeds through artificial insemination and cross genetics, and others evaluate an animal’s functional use, such as its production of meat or byproducts such as wool.
A bachelor degree in animal sciences gives aspiring animal husbandry specialists the foundation they need in nutrition, genetics, and animal care so they can excel in their jobs. Although salary will vary depending on factors like education, location, exact title, and employer, on average specialists earn $34,000 a year, according to Simply Hired. Rural parts of the country may have more job prospects than the city.
K-9 Dog Trainer
K-9 trainers are professional pet behaviorists that specialize in preparing dogs for assisting the police force. Trainers teach dogs how to find criminals, sniff out contraband, and how to become excellent guard dogs for their handlers. Although K-9 dog trainers need additional certification, such as traditional Canine training certification and Police K-9 Handler Certification, a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science can give you an extra foundation in animal handling and care, which can make you an even better trainer.
Trainers can be employed by a police department directly or work for an independent training facility. Some individuals even create their own training facilities. Therefore, salary and wages can vary tremendously. For a ballpark figure, however, dog trainers typically earn anywhere from $17,000 to $87,000 a year, according to PayScale.
Guide Dog Instructor
Guide dog instructors are also professional pet behaviorists, however they specialize in training dogs to help guide the blind and other disabled people. Training is typically very rigorous. Trainers spend a lot of personal time with “candidates” to make sure dogs don’t have any behavioral or aggressive tendencies before official training starts. Aspiring guide dog trainers must enroll in a special guide dog training academy and must work as an apprentice before becoming a full fledge guide dog instructor, however earning canine training certification and a bachelor’s degree in animal science can prove that you have a strong foundation in animal care as well as increase your chances of academy acceptance.
Guide dog instructors are employed by independent guide dog schools therefore salary will vary. There are no national statistics of the average salary earned for this profession, but typically guide dog trainers earn about the starting salary of a school teacher according to Guide Dogs of America. That means potential starting salaries can range anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000.