For high school students

Veterinary Medicine as a career

Interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine? The field is always changing and growing and offers opportunities in a number of areas from clinical practice, research and teaching, and public health. High school is a great time for students to begin exploring this exciting career path and preparing for admission to veterinary school in the future.

Private practice/clinical practice

In private or clinical practice, veterinarians may treat cats, dogs, birds, small mammals, and fish. Others work with horses or livestock in rural areas and others advise farm and ranch owners on food safety and production.

Research and teaching

The field offers opportunities in colleges and universities or in industry to research, treat, and prevent animal and human diseases. From pharmaceutical and biomedical firms to pet food companies and agribusinesses, there are a variety of paths to choose from.

Government agencies

Veterinarians are at the forefront of preventing new diseases that can threaten animal and human health. Careers in agriculture, food safety, animal and plant inspection, and humane law enforcement all use the skills and talents of veterinarians. Opportunities for veterinarians exist with the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security as well as in the military where expertise is needed in bioterrorism, biomedical research, and animal care systems in underdeveloped areas.


While in high school, students are advised to take AP, PSEO and International Baccalaureate, and CLEP courses in mathematics and science which would provide a solid foundation before college coursework. Most prospective Veterinary Medicine students earn their undergraduate degrees —frequently in Animal Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics – before they apply to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Admission at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine is highly competitive.


Students are advised to become involved in animal related activities. FFA, 4H, or volunteering at a local animal shelter or at a farm or horse facility are great ways to gain experience. Shadowing a veterinarian is also an important way to learn about the profession first-hand.

Well qualified applicants typically have participated in 500 hours of animal care experience as well as 500 hours of working, shadowing, or volunteering at a veterinary practice. Additionally, leadership, work history, and extracurricular involvement are also important. Volunteering in the community, participating in sports or clubs, and a history of employment are great ways to gain experience.