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How Can I Become a Veterinarian?

I'm 14 and I have always wanted to be a vet or a vet assistant. Can you give me some advice on how I can...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Aug 19th 2008


I’m 14 and I have always wanted to be a vet or a
vet assistant. Can you give me some advice on how
I can start preparing myself for when I become old
enough to actually do the whole job?

Jessie
Orange, CA

Study hard and get good grades.

University veterinary programs are very competitive. The most important admissions criterion is academic performance. To get into vet school, you need to get good grades at a good college. To get into a good college and to develop good habits you need to study hard and get good grades, starting now.

Also important, and generally more fun than studying, is to gain experience with animals. Vet school admissions committees prefer applicants who have worked with animals in a veterinary setting.

Working with a vet also will help you learn about the profession and help you decide with certainty that you want to enter it. Becoming a vet is a big commitment. It’s a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into early on.

Some veterinary hospitals and animal shelters allow high school students to volunteer at their facilities. You can investigate whether there are any such premises in your neighborhood. When you are old enough to work legally, you can apply for a position as a kennel attendant or animal care assistant at a veterinary hospital. However, be sure that your work does not cause your grades to drop!

Working with a vet is not an absolute requirement for successful vet school applicants. I volunteered at a zoo and an aquarium instead. Other students work on farms. But admissions committees generally favor applicants who have experience in veterinary facilities.

Forgive me for harping on the matter, but always remember that doing well in school is the most important thing you can do. Even if you ultimately decide not to become a vet, good grades will open a world of opportunities in your future.