Veterinarians held about 78,300 jobs in 2014, of which about 74 percent were in the veterinary services industry. Others held positions in federal, state, or local government; animal production, and in colleges and universities. About 1 in 6 veterinarians were self-employed in 2016.
Most veterinarians work in private clinics and hospitals. Others travel to farms, work in laboratories or classrooms, or work for the government.
Veterinarians who treat horses or food animals travel between their offices and farms and ranches. They work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to perform surgery, often in remote locations.
Veterinarians who work in food safety and inspection travel to farms, slaughterhouses, and food-processing plants to inspect the health of animals and ensure that safety protocols are being followed by the facility.
Veterinarians who conduct research work primarily in offices and laboratories. They spend much of their time dealing with people, rather than animals.
The work can be emotionally stressful, as veterinarians deal with sick animals and the animals' anxious owners. Also, the workplace can be noisy, as animals make noise when sick or being handled. Working on farms and ranches, in slaughterhouses, or with wildlife can also be physically demanding.
Injuries and Illnesses
When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, and scratched. In addition, veterinarians working with diseased animals risk being infected by the disease.
Veterinarians often work additional hours. Some work nights or weekends, and they may have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours.