California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Veterinarians in California

May also be called: Animal Doctors; Animal Surgeons; Doctors of Veterinary Medicine; Veterinary Medicine Doctors; and Veterinary Surgeons

What Would I Do?

Most Veterinarians treat dogs and cats or other animals that can be kept as pets. They may diagnose health problems, vaccinate against diseases, medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses, treat and dress wounds, set fractures, perform surgery, and advise owners about animal feeding, behavior, and breeding.

Veterinarians in private or clinical practice may work long and irregular hours such as evenings and weekends. They may attend to emergencies and unexpected appointments. They often work in a noisy environment. Veterinarians work with animals that may bite, kick, or scratch them; therefore, they may require that the animals be restrained or sedated for treatment.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Veterinarians may appeal to those who enjoy searching for facts and figuring out problems. They should also enjoy working with animals and have the ability to get along with the pets' owners. Duties may involve working outside. Veterinarians who intend to go into private practice should possess excellent communication and business skills to manage their practice and employees.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Veterinarians in California is $110,194 annually, or $52.97 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Those who are self-employed are responsible for purchasing their own insurance and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Veterinarians should find job opportunities as people continue to have pets and many are opting for more extensive care of their animals.

How Do I Qualify?

Prospective Veterinarians must graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree from a four-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. The only public veterinary college in California is University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. When deciding whom to admit, veterinary medical colleges place heavy consideration on candidates’ veterinary and animal experience. Formal experience, such as work with Veterinarians or scientists in clinics, agribusiness, research, or some area of health science, is required. Informal experience, such as working with animals on a farm or at a stable or animal shelter, also can be helpful.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains an effective job search method for Veterinarians. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Veterinarians